To conclude our series of Turning Points of WW2 we are going to look at the defending of the UK during the Battle of Britain
State of play beforehand
The German Army had stormed through most of Europe using the highly efficient Blitzkrieg stratagem. With the USSR enjoying peace with Germany through the Molotov-Ribbentrop pact and the USA still opposed to getting directly involved, the UK stood as the last major enemy against the Axis.
The German plan for defeating Britain was to bomb them into surrender or, failing that, an invasion. The Germans however, were wary of the power of the Royal Navy and the RAF so needed to defeat them to make crossing the English Channel safe enough for their invasion force.
Why didn’t it work for the Axis
Germany stopped bombing RAF targets, believed to only be a few weeks from breaking point, in favour of a new doctrine which was to bomb London and other major cities and ports starting what would come to be known as The Blitz.
This was devised to defeat the morale of the common man and bomb the British into submission. This change of plan was in part believed to be in retaliation to the daring RAF bombing raid of Berlin, deep within Germany, showing the RAF was still a force to be reckoned with. The UK claimed that the attack on Berlin was in retaliation to a few German crews bombing civilians in London, instead of military targets.
Compounding this was the underestimation made by the Germans as to the RAF’s ability to replenish its stock of aircraft and to train pilots, meaning the battle drew in more and more of Germany’s already stretched resources.
Why considered a turning point
The failure of the Luftwaffe to break the RAF was the first major defeat of German forces since the beginning of the War in 1939. The defiance of the RAF led German planners to postpone, and then cancel plans for the invasion of Britain, which the British would have struggled to stop. Had the British fallen, it would have ended the war, and allowed Germany to throw all of its might into the future invasion of the USSR and therefore most likely have succeeded there. This in turn would have plausibly prevented the USA from entering the war, as by then it would have been largely over.
Now our mini series has come to an end, head over to our Facebook Page (Link) to vote for which of the featured events you think was the most significant turning point of World War Two. Will the Battle of Britain be your choice?