The Battle of Britain. Was it won by the Royal Navy?

The Times August 24, 2006

In World War II, the formidable Royal Navy was the largest and most powerful navy on earth. Historians have said that it could have overwhelmed ANY invasion fleet. (PA)

Never in the field of human conflict was so much owed by so many to . . . the Navy
By Michael Evans

The theory that the RAF stopped Hitler from invading is under attack

THE extraordinary courage of “the Few”, the Battle of Britain fighter pilots who protected the country from the might of the Luftwaffe, and stopped a full-scale invasion by Germany, remains one of the great stories of the Second World War.

However, three military historians have claimed that it was not the gallant Spitfire and Hurricane fighter pilots who saved the country from Hitler’s invading forces in the autumn of 1940, but the Royal Navy.

It was not air power but sea power that dissuaded Hitler from invading Britain in an operation codenamed Sealion, the eminent lecturers at the Armed Forces Joint Services Command Staff College have told History Today magazine.

Operation Sealion would have attempted to land 160,000 soldiers along 40 miles of coastline in southeast England, using 2,000 barges. But the sea invasion was postponed to enable the Luftwaffe to try to destroy the RAF.

This led to the Battle of Britain and Churchill’s subsequent, famous tribute to the RAF pilots: “Never in the field of human conflict was so much owed by so many to so few.”

The Battle of Britain was fought in the skies above the towns and cities of England

After the RAF won the war of the skies, Hitler abandoned his invasion plans on October 12, 1940. However, four weeks before the 66th anniversary of Battle of Britain Day, Andrew Gordon, head of maritime history at the staff college, has given a different perspective on why Hitler changed his mind.

He told Brian James, author of the article, Pie in the Sky?: “I cheered like crazy at the film of the Battle of Britain [Reach for the Sky], like everyone else. But it really is time to put away this enduring myth. To claim that Germany failed to invade in 1940 because of what was done by the phenomenally brave and skilled young men of Fighter Command is hogwash.”

He added: “The Germans stayed away because while the Royal Navy existed they had not a hope in hell of capturing these islands. The Navy had ships in sufficient numbers to have overwhelmed any invasion fleet; destroyers’ speed alone would have swamped the barges by their wash.”

Christina Goulter, air warfare historian at the staff college, added: “While it would be wrong to deny the contribution of Fighter Command . . . it was the Navy that held the Germans from invading.”

Dr Goulter added: “The Battle of Britain was a formative experience for the RAF, like Waterloo for the Army [and] Trafalgar for the Navy, a sacrosanct event. This is why there is more than a modicum of hostility to any suggestion of re-examining this history. The single-seater fighter pilots of today see themselves as inheriting the mantle of the Few.”

Gary Sheffield, the staff college’s land warfare historian, agreed that the Navy was the main stumbling block to a successful German invasion.

Their views were criticised yesterday by one of the Battle of Britain pilots, Air Commodore Peter Brothers, who told The Times: “I’m afraid that the Royal Navy would have had a thin time if there had been no Battle of Britain. The German air force would have done what the Japanese did in Singapore. The Germans had Stuka dive-bombers that would have made mincemeat of the Navy.”

Air Commodore Brothers, chairman of the Battle of Britain Fighter Association, added: “The Battle of Britain dissuaded Hitler from invading. The battle was won by the people, firstly by radar, secondly by those who made the ammunition and aircraft, thirdly by the ground crews and fourthly by the pilots who flew them.”

Peter Furtado, editor of History Today, said: “There is absolutely no intention of denigrating the exceptional efforts of the Battle of Britain pilots. But all the historians are trying to do is to put their efforts into a wider context. Churchill created the myth of the Few for his own reasons.”


In 1939, Britain had the largest naval force in the world: 7 aircraft carriers, 15 large battleships, 15 heavy cruisers, 46 light cruisers, 181 destroyers and 59 submarines. Today, it's the world's second most powerful naval force

In August 1940, the RAF had 615 Hurricanes and 326 Spitfires

“The Few” were 2,353 Britons and 574 pilots from overseas: 544 died during the Battle of Britain

The battle lasted from July 10 to October 31, 1940

Battle of Britain Day is September 15
The Battle of Britain was most definitely won by the RAF, with many pilots from the Dominions Once the German Bomber force was depleted, the navy could have stomped all over any seaborne invasion . Once air superiority was established, there was no chance for any German invasion. It was the air forces that achieved that air superiority.
what the historians forget when suggesting that the nazi's couldnt get passed the royal navy was their pitiful performance against strafing Stukka's in Dunkirk...sure britain had a gigantic navy, but in the end it would boil down to nothing if a few airplanes found em, yes, Britain's navy would have stopped the small flotillas, but it had to be won in the air first.

frankly these new historians are stating only half truths
The Battle of Britain

was a battle against formidable odds. A lot is owed to the designers of the Spitfire, and the Hurricane. R.J. Mitchell and Sydney Camm respectively, designed two of the best fighters in the world at the time. Some credit might also go to Lord Beaverbrook for getting these fighters built in time.
All built in the supermarine factory of the (recently) closed Vosper Thornycroft on Woolston shore Southampton. I thank-a you.

That reminds me, I must pop into the R.J. Mitchell building at Southampton Solent University 2moro!!!....And Lord Beaverbrook is a good example of just how close Canada was to the UK, he was actually in the war cabinet.
As a youngster, I enjoyed listening to my relatives discuss the war when we visited England. The idea of an imminent German invasion is an interesting one. My uncle who was in the RAF always claimed it was hogwash and Germany had little capacity for a land invasion and almost no infrastructure to supply troops if they did land. My other uncle, who was in the British Army said the Germans would have suffered a massive defeat. My father, who was part of the Canadian D Day force also claimed that any type of invasion would have been ridiculous with the lack of German naval power and the real strength is not landing but having overwhelming superiority in numbers to keep it going. Literally thousands of German ships would have been needed.

My mother, in contrast, was a teen in London and said they were all waiting for the invasion. I wonder if Churchill didn't succesfully exaggerate the idea of a German invasion to give the Brits the fortitude they displayed during those dire months.

There's lots of 'what ifs' in any war or historical event that are dependent on so many other variables that it's all speculation.
Oh, was the Hurricane built at Supermarine as well? I didn't know that. What is scary, is that if it weren't for the Spitfires and the Hurricanes, might the Battle of Britain have been fought with Gladiators? Just kidding..
True, it's possible this is why Hitler stopped before he got to Dunkirk to allow the troops to escape, he really didnt have a "beef" with the british (or Americans come to that), so I suppose, under that rationale, Cortex may be a little right when he claims Britain and the US are "rouge states" they sure were in Hitler's eyes.

The air battle was close though for sure, if he hadnt switched to bombing town and not air bases, he certainly could have had air superiority...but the navy is certainly a bit problem to operation sealion.

*I reckon theyd have fought with those old swordfish by-planes they used on the aircraft carriers!!! Juan
Londoners won that battle as well. They had a business as usual mentality. The RAF were outnumbered but fought well.
Theres a DVD I'd like to get called The World At War. Sadly it cost a small fortune, even on amazon.
If the Germans had concentrated their airpower on the English navy we probably wouldn't be having this argument. The fact remains the German airforce targeted dry land and those most responsible for repulsing them were the RAF.
If we think about it,

The 2000 barges were not motorized barges so they would have had to be towed. The German Navy didn't have 2000 ships so they would have had to use tugs. Tugboats are not fast boats, especially when they are towing heavy barges. To get 2000 heavy barges across the channel and landed, would have taken from twelve to forty eight hours depending where they landed. They would have been sitting ducks all the way. It would have been a disaster. The German invasion was a pipe dream.
One writer says that the power of the Royal Navy wasn't the only factor that helped Britain win the Battle of Britain. Another factor was that no matter how hard the Germans tried, they just couldn't break the morale of the British people.

Letters to the Editor

The Times August 25, 2006

Did Germany's fear of the Royal Navy win the war?

Sir, Churchill not only praised “the Few” (which included 56 Royal Navy pilots) in his famous speech 66 years ago, he also praised the other airmen in Bomber Command who had harried the enemy across the Channel and beyond (report, Aug 24).

There is no doubt that, had “the Few” (and radar and the Observer Corps) failed, the Royal Navy would have fought valiantly to stop any invasion of our shores. It would probably have succeeded but, without air supremacy, that would have been at great cost.

But the main point is that the Battle of Britain was the first time that air-to-air combat reversed the outcome of an enemy’s major strategic plan. The invasion did not take place for a number of reasons. Not least of these was the Luftwaffe’s inability to subdue the RAF, the overrun of time that the belligerence of Fighter Command caused to the invasion plans, making weather in the Channel a serious issue, and the threat of the world’s most powerful navy protecting its own shores.

This points not to a conclusion that the Battle of Britain was not a victory, but that this nation and its Armed Forces acted in a way which surprised, weakened and demoralised the German High Command to such an extent that they allowed its leader to turn his attention towards the East where, incidentally, a slower but very similar situation forced the Germans eventually to retreat again.

September 15, Battle of Britain Day, is a time for celebration, for it marked a turning point when our island nation, standing virtually alone [[America had not yet entered the war and most of the rest of Europe was overrun]], turned back a hitherto victorious barbaric regime, giving a breathing space for an eventual victory over the tyranny of Nazism. Had “the Few” not fought so bravely I have no doubt that the world would be a very different place today.

Director General
Royal Air Force Museum
London NW9


Sir, Not only did the Navy have an overwhelming preponderance of ships and resources but it had already inflicted a severe defeat on the Kriegsmarine during the otherwise disastrous Norwegian campaign in which that Service lost or had severely damaged most of its surface fleet. As a result, the German admirals advised Hitler that there was no way they could guarantee to protect an invasion fleet against the certain attacks of the Royal Navy or provide the shipping to supply such a force if it got ashore.

That that battle would have been harder without British air superiority is clear, but the result would still have been the same: the anihilation of any invasion force.

This in no way detracts from the achievements of Fighter Command in the Battle of Britain, which convinced Hitler that an invasion was a non-starter, gave renewed hope to the occupied countries, convinced Britain and her allies that defeat was not imminent or inevitable and set the stage for the invasion of the Soviety Union.

Weymouth, Dorset

Sir, If “the Germans stayed away because while the Royal Navy existed they had not a hope in hell of capturing these islands”, why did they fight the Battle of Britain?

Postwar German documents and the statements of Nazi leaders of the time show that they made no such naive assessment of the situation. The picture is one of uncertainty and indecision, compounded by Hitler’s wavering enthusiasm for invasion. The potential power of the Royal Navy was only one factor of many, including the weather, and false hopes of a British collapse of morale making invasion unnecessary; the growing resistance of the RAF seems to have been the tippping point leading to Hitler’s decision to defer invasion indefinitely.

Little Chalfont, Buckinghamshire
Battle of Britain was won at sea.
By Thomas Harding

The Telegraph

The Battle of Britain was not won by the RAF but by the Royal Navy, military historians have concluded, provoking outrage among the war's surviving fighter pilots.

Challenging the "myth" that Spitfires and Hurricanes held off the German invaders in 1940, the monthly magazine History Today has concluded that it was the might of the Navy that stood between Britain and Nazi occupation.

The view is backed by three leading academics who are senior military historians at the Joint Service Command Staff College teaching the future admirals, generals and air marshals.

They contend that the sheer numbers of destroyers and battleships in the Channel would have obliterated any invasion fleet even if the RAF had lost the Battle of Britain.

The idea that a "handful of heroes saved these islands from invasion" was nothing more than a "perpetuation of a glorious myth," the article suggests.

"Many still prefer to believe that in the course of that summer a few hundred outnumbered young men so outfought a superior enemy as solely to prevent a certain invasion of Britain. Almost none of which is true," reports Brian James, the author.

Dr Andrew Gordon, the head of maritime history at the staff college, said it was "hogwash" to suggest that Germany failed to invade in 1940 "because of what was done by the phenomenally brave and skilled young men of Fighter Command".

"The Germans stayed away because while the Royal Navy existed they had not a hope in hell of capturing these islands. The Navy had ships in sufficient numbers to have overwhelmed any invasion fleet - destroyers' speed alone would have swamped the barges by their wash."

Even if the RAF had been defeated the fleet would still have been able to defeat any invasion because fast ships at sea could easily manoeuvre and "were pretty safe from air attack".

While admitting it was an "extremely sensitive subject", Dr Christina Goulter, the air warfare historian, supported the argument. "While it would be wrong to deny the contribution of Fighter Command, I agree largely that it was the Navy that held the Germans from invading," she said.

"As the German general Jodl put it, so long as the British Navy existed, an invasion would be to send 'my troops into a mincing machine'." Any challenge to the long-held theory that the 2,600 pilots of Fighter Command defeated the might of Germany would be subject to "more than a modicum of hostility", she added.

The Battle of Britain was "a sacrosanct event" for the RAF, like Waterloo for the Army and Trafalgar for the Navy.

It inspired Churchill to say: "Never in the field of human conflict was so much owed by so many to so few."

Although six destroyers were lost during the evacuation of Dunkirk in May 1940 this was due to them being stationary as they picked up troops.

Tackling capital ships would have been an even greater task because at the time the Luftwaffe, unlike the Japanese during the destruction of the fleet at Singapore, did not have armour-piercing bombs, the article says.

It has been argued that German minefields strung across the Dover Straits would have prevented the Home Fleet, based at Scapa Flow, from destroying slow troop barges.

But Dr Gordon disputed this saying that Britain had 52 minesweepers and 16 minesweeping trawlers arrayed against four German minelayers.

The disparity between the navies was huge with Britain having 36 destroyers close by and a similar number two days away. The Navy also had five capital ships on hand, whereas the Kriegsmarine had lost or had damaged their battleships.

"Anyway, in an emergency, the Royal Navy steams straight through minefields as they did when pursuing the Scharnhorst," Dr Gordon said. "They have a drill, following line astern. 'Each ship can sweep one mine' is the rather grim joke."

Can you imagine the RN's targets? An invasion fleet of Rhine barges, moving at about two knots over the water, with a freeboard of a few feet. . . an absolute field day for our navy. So that was the nightmare for the German navy. They knew it just couldn't happen."

Prof Gary Sheffield, the JSCSC's leading land warfare historian, said while some Germans might have got ashore it would have been near impossible for them to be re-supplied with the Navy so close by.

The article also argues that while the RAF had 644 fighters to the Luftwaffe's 725 at the beginning of the battle by October 1940 Britain was far out-producing the enemy.

It also said that after the defeat in France in early 1940 it was vital for Britain to have a victory to reassure the public it was winning the war and the RAF fighter pilots were an obvious choice. "In 1940, the total acceptance of the story's simple broad-brush strokes was very necessary," the historian Richard Overy said.

Dr Gordon added: "The RAF's was a substitute victory - a substitute for the certain victory over Sealion, had the Germans been mad enough to attempt invasion."
I think we have to remember

the mighty Bismarck's demise was initiated by a tiny biplane called a Swordfish. A single torpedo wrecked the Bismarck's steering gear and the ship was forced to run in circles while the ships that eventually killed it, caught up. The RAF badly depleted the German bomber force and that was a huge blow to the invasion plans. Another thing is, that British bombers blew up untold numbers of barges that were meant for the invasion. The German invasion plans were a myth that depended on German air superiority that was never achieved because of the RAF.
blackleaf: "September 15, Battle of Britain Day, is a time for celebration, for it marked a turning point when our island nation, standing virtually alone [[America had not yet entered the war and most of the rest of Europe was overrun]], "

Not really. My father, a Canadian soldier, was aleady stationed in Britain and my mother, a Londoner, was eating bread and other staples brought in to Britain via the Newfoundland merchant marine escorted by the Canadian navy.

Many Canadian (and other non-Brits) were killed in the Battle of Britain.
So who did win the Battle of Britain?

25th August 2006

RAF pilots run to their planes during the Battle of Britain.

They might as well have suggested that Winston Churchill was gay.

The cluster of historians who declared this week that the Royal Air Force did not win the Battle of Britain achieved the sort of instant notoriety usually reserved for Jeffrey Archer, and sent soaring the blood pressure of traditional British patriots.

It is August, and that jolly little magazine History Today likes to boost sales by rattling cages. In an article for its latest issue, author Brian James declares our belief that The Few saw off Hitler in 1940 to be ‘nothing more than a perpetuation of a glorious myth’.

In truth, said James, it was fear of the Royal Navy that deterred the Germans from invading this country. He found a battery of reputable historians to support his claim.

So much for Fighter Command, then, for Biggin Hill and ‘Stuffy’ Dowding, Angels Ten and Heinkels at six o’clock. Another great national legend goes down in flames. Shame on them.

The quick response to the legend-busters is a single salvo that should put them smartly back in their box. Consider the words of Admiral Sir Charles Forbes, Commander-in-Chief of the Home Fleet, on September 15, 1940, biggest day of the Battle of Britain. The triumphs of Fighter Command, said this doughty seadog, ‘had removed the threat of invasion completely’.

It is unlikely that a senior officer of the Royal Navy would overstate the claims of a rival service. If Forbes believed that the RAF had successfully frustrated the danger of a German landing on our shores, it seems pretty silly 66 years later for historians to suggest differently.

Yet it is true that, as a nation, we like to shroud Britain’s 1940 experience in romance and a little conceit. We kid ourselves, for instance, that Hitler regarded this island as his principal enemy.

In reality, from the first day of the war his chief purpose was to invade Russia. He wanted to create a great German empire in eastern Europe, whose peoples would become his slaves, whose lands would provide his granaries and oil wells. Everything else he did was subordinate to that aim. He wanted France out of the way before he turned east, and thus attacked in the west in May 1940. After his devastating success, and the French surrender, he believed that the western war was won.

He believed, not wrongly, that Britain could do little to interfere with his command of the continent. Forever an opportunist, he was willing to invade and occupy these islands if he could do so cheaply, without compromising his plans for Russia.

His naval commanders told him, in the words of the authoritative German official history of the war, that ‘the most important precondition of the success of the landing is German air superiority over the Channel and southern England’. Thus, he allowed Goering’s Luftwaffe to embark upon its great assault which began in July, rising to a crescendo in August and early September.

It was Britain’s good fortune that the only contingency for which this country was well-prepared in 1940 was that of meeting bomber attack.

A handful of inspired scientists, aircraft designers and airmen had created a defence system for Britain unmatched anywhere in the world. Other nations had radar — German sets were better than ours — but none had coupled the technology to the sophisticated fighter direction network of plotting tables, controllers and ground observers which Dowding’s force possessed.

When the Luftwaffe’s massed formations began to appear over southern England, the young pilots of Fighter Command rose to meet them backed by a brilliant organisation.

RAF tactics were at first rigid and unimaginative, their guns too small and marksmanship poor — a tiny handful of ‘aces’ accounted for most of the Germans shot down. But they learned fast and soon were mauling the enemy terribly.

The British had some lucky breaks. For instance, the Germans’ superb Messerschmitt Bf109 fighters could dogfight over England for only a few minutes. If Goering had fitted his planes with additional fuel tanks, for which the technology existed, Fighter Command’s outnumbered Hurricanes and Spitfires would have been in desperate trouble. If the Germans had persisted with their attacks on the RAF’s airfields and radar stations, instead of turning to attack cities, the results could have been disastrous.

Goering never devised a coherent plan.

Scattering bombs on Godalming, Aldershot, Haslemere and Farnborough, as German aircraft did on July 7, killed 62 hapless people, but did nothing to advance the cause of winning the air battle. There were always only just enough RAF planes and just enough pilots — only 3,080 qualified for the Battle of Britain medal clasp — to sustain the defence.

Dowding, as C-in-C of Fighter Command, understood what Winston Churchill did not: that his job was not to destroy the Luftwaffe, an almost impossible task, but simply to keep his force flying and fighting.

If Dowding had thrown everything into the battle, as the prime minister instinctively wanted, the RAF could not have supported its rate of attrition against the much bigger German air force. As it was, day by day and week by week, Luftwaffe casualties mounted and still Fighter Command was airborne.

Between September 7 and 15, for instance, the RAF lost 135 planes — but Goering’s men lost 189, and British factories’ output of fighters was rising fast.

The Luftwaffe’s squadrons were constantly told that the British were at their last gasp, but every German raid met forces of 60 or 70 defending Hurricanes and Spitfires.

On September 15, General Raymond Lee, the shrewd American military attaché in London, wrote in his diary: ‘This is the date after which I believe Hitler’s chance will rapidly dwindle.

‘There are the beginnings of a Press campaign in Germany breaking the news to the people that England is to be subdued by blockade and bombing — I can’t for the life of me puzzle out what the Germans are up to. They have great air power and yet are dissipating it in fruitless and aimless attacks all over England.

‘Just as I finish writing this, the heavy guns commence giving tongue and the little Irish maid comes in to turn down the bed. She went over to Victoria to see the planes which crashed there and is very pleased because she saw the dead German crew extracted from the wreckage.’

The British Government clearly perceived that, from mid September onwards, the threat of German invasion was fading. RAF reconnaissance of the Channel ports showed the assemblies of invasion barges dwindling in numbers. On October 31, though the German night blitz of Britain was causing painful casualties and distress, the Prime Minister agreed that the threat of invasion had become ‘relatively remote’. In truth, however, long before that date Hitler had lost interest. As early as the end of July, the German Naval Staff declared that the prospect of a successful invasion must be in doubt, for 1940 at least.

The Fuhrer was disappointed that the Luftwaffe’s massive demonstration over England had failed to enable the British ‘peace party ’— the likes of Lord Halifax, Lloyd George and the Duke of Windsor — to overthrow Churchill and ask Berlin for terms. He did not think it mattered much, however. Hitler never intended to accept many risks in order to invade England.

He was content to leave Churchill’s people to stew in their own juice while he addressed himself to Russia. At the end of the Battle of Britain, the Luftwaffe remained a formidable fighting force. The RAF had not destroyed it.

German bombers continued to pound Britain by night through the winter of 1940. In the spring, most were transferred eastwards to support the invasion of Russia. Britain was left battered, bloodied — but undefeated.

Those who say that British victory in the Battle of Britain did not bring a day closer the defeat of Nazism are part-right: not until Russia and the United States became our allies could Hitler’s command of the Continent be challenged.

Yet had the Luftwaffe been successful in shooting Fighter Command out of the sky in 1940, Hitler must have been tempted to try invasion. It is true that, with or without the RAF, German naval officers were very fearful of the Royal Navy.

In the summer of 1940 Germany mustered only two fast battleships — Scharnhorst and Gneisenau — two old battleships, two heavy and two light cruisers, up to ten destroyers, 28 operational U-boats and about the same number of torpedo boats.

Against these, the Royal Navy deployed 32 destroyers and five corvettes in the Nore Command alone, supported by six cruisers, with the entire Home Fleet ready to move south from Scapa Flow and Rosyth if a German invasion armada put to sea.

It would have been extraordinarily difficult for the Germans effectively to protect their landing barges from such a force.

And yet, and yet . . . the whole course of World War II showed how devastatingly vulnerable were surface ships to air attack. At Dunkirk, in the Mediterranean, in the Pacific, again and again powerful fleets were devastated by dive-bombers and torpedo aircraft.

If the Luftwaffe’s full might had been concentrated on the Channel, and Fighter Command been destroyed, the Royal Navy would have suffered terribly, seeking to fight a battle barely 20 miles from German airfields.

Britain’s warships could probably have seen off a German invasion — the German Navy certainly thought so, and in that sense the historians who made such a splash this week are right.

But it would have been a bloody business, and could have disastrously weakened the Royal Navy for its other vital tasks — keeping open the Atlantic lifeline, and preserving Britain’s foothold in the Mediterranean.

We can go on arguing about possibilities until the cows come home: the British Army, aided by Dad’s Army, might have been able to defeat a German Army even if it had got ashore.

The Royal Navy might have achieved a victory in the Channel to rival that of Trafalgar. But neither of these contingencies was ever tested. What actually happened was that the Germans threw their air force at that of Britain — and failed to defeat it.

In the eyes of the world in 1940, and in those of sensible historians to this day, victory was won, and Britain saved to fight on, by the pilots of Fighter Command under the splendid Air Marshal Sir Hugh Dowding, who was so unjustly ousted by jealous rivals within weeks of his triumph.

Of course Churchill exaggerated the scale of success. Much of his genius in 1940 lay in the deployment of rhetoric to convince the British people that, in the face of all logic, they could prevail against Hitler’s legions.

Had not Churchill been in Downing Street that summer, there is every chance his feebler colleagues would have thrown in the towel.
Quote: Originally Posted by athabaska

blackleaf: "September 15, Battle of Britain Day, is a time for celebration, for it marked a turning point when our island nation, standing virtually alone [[America had not yet entered the war and most of the rest of Europe was overrun]], "

Not really. My father, a Canadian soldier, was aleady stationed in Britain and my mother, a Londoner, was eating bread and other staples brought in to Britain via the Newfoundland merchant marine escorted by the Canadian navy.

Many Canadian (and other non-Brits) were killed in the Battle of Britain.

I think when people say "Britain stood alone" they mean the British Empire stood alone. In the 1940s, Canada was just a part of Britain, anywhere

But let's look at the figures:

2,353 British pilots died during the Battle of Britain but only 574 non-British people. So the people who fought for Britain in that battle were overwhemingly British.
I think thats the point many americans try to impress on canadians when they call their ancestors who fought in wars like 1812, ww1 and 2 as "non-brits", that they were infact as british as someone in britain, the empire encompassed many lands, and they were all british subjects
Quote: Originally Posted by Daz_Hockey

I think thats the point many americans try to impress on canadians when they call their ancestors who fought in wars like 1812, ww1 and 2 as "non-brits", that they were infact as british as someone in britain, the empire encompassed many lands, and they were all british subjects


I think you're getting a bit carried away here. If we look at the lists of WW2 Canadian war dead, we see as many Ukrainian, Polish, German, names, as we do British names. In fact quite a few Canadian Natives fought in WW2. The majority were 18 - 22 year old boys who were born in Canada. These young men made a commitment to their country. They were not "as British as someone in Britain". They were Canadians, and Canada was a member country of the British Commonwealth, and in 1939, certainly not the "British Empire".

I would agree for the most part with your story about the war of 1812, but less in WW1, and very little about WW2
Canadian pilots in Battle of Britain


Canadian fighter Aces WW2


BTW Blackleaf, The RAF lost 498 pilots during the Battle of Britain. I don't know if some Canadian losses are included in that number.
I reckon they are Juan, as I say, when you consider lord Beaverbrook's role in the british cabinet, certainly a lot of the canadians who joined werent all anglo's, and there were a lot of other nations too (funny you say poland, cus there's a good 20,000 living in my town now, thats the problem when you have a free-flowing union, but parts of it are much richer than the other).

But yeah, I was mainly on about 1812, a bit of ww1, ww2 I realise about the other nations and such
The British and the Americans are quick to forget Canada's large envolvment in ww1 and ww2. We helped defend the UK long before the USA and even invaded the mainland before the Americans were in the war.

Also the Canadian Navy can not be forgotten in this conflic, one of the largest navies in the world after the war. The fact is Canada kept the UK afloat, if we had not joined the war I highly doubt the UK would have made it, or would have had a harder time at it anyhow.

Also the Battle of Britain was not won by the UK but lost by Germany. It was Hitlers stupity when he was about to destory the royal airforce to switch the bombings from the run ways of the RAF to the cities of England. It is widely known that if Hitler had kept the German airforce bounding the RAF directly there would not have been an RAF to defend the UK.
And do you really think His Majesty's Canadian Navy would NOT defend err..well their King's homeland?

not in a million years
When I mentioned the Gladiator.

this was what I meant.

Ah Roahld Dahl flew one of those!!!

But you understand what I mean though, the week's difference in declaring war was just a formality, do you really think Canada wouldnt have fought on Britain's side?
There was never a question whether Canada would join Britain in that war. From the puny military we had at the start of WW2, I think we had a hundred thousand soldiers in Britain in the first year. By the end of the war we had a million men in uniform. I should have said men and women. :P

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