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On This Day: July 10th, 1940:

The Battle of Britain (officially) began as Germany sought to establish air superiority against Great Britain.

In 1940, after the German annexation of France and the Low Countries, Hitler ordered the preparation of Operation Sea Lion, an amphibious and airborne invasion of mainland Britain. In order to achieve this, the German Luftwaffe would have to incapacitate the British Royal Air Force. Unlike the Luftwaffes’ previous opponents in mainland Europe, the RAF were highly capable, organised, well supplied and modern, equipped with the now iconic Hurricanes and Spitfires.

Initial Luftwaffe estimates were that it would take four days to defeat the RAF in Southern England and from there they could attack and destroy British military facilities at will in longer range bombing campaigns. A number of factors including poor German intelligence, unclear and unfocused bombing strategies and highly successful British interception caused the Luftwaffe to fail in their objective.

Thereafter the German high command changed their strategy, beginning a major bombing campaign against civilian and industrial targets; A devestating eight months which came to be known as The Blitz.

The Battle of Britain would see more than 4,000 aircrew and more than 14,000 civilians killed. It marked the first major setback suffered by the Nazis. The South of England, so valiantly defended would become the launch point for the allied liberation of Europe four years later.

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