The turning point of the war in Europe is clearly the Battle of Britain since if Germany had defeated the Royal Air Force and conquered Britain, Germany could have taken over control of Europe. In 1940, most of Europe was under the control of Germany. After France had fallen, victorious German soldiers paraded down the Champs Elysees, the famous Paris Boulevard. France’s surrender in June 1940 left Britain alone in the fight against Germany. Hitler had believed that Great Britain would seek peace with Germany after the fall of France but Britain fought on with the war alone. The British expected Hitler to order an invasion of their nation. Hitler made preparations to cross the English Channel and invade southern England. Before the Germans could invade, however, they had to defeat Britain’s Royal Airforce. The Battle of Britain, which began in July of 1940, was the first battle ever fought to control the air.
In August 1940, the German air force, the Luftwaffe, led by a German man named Goering, second in command next to Hitler, began to attack Britain’s Royal Airforce bases. The German Air Force consisted of 3,000 long range bombing planes against only 600 planes made up of Americans, the British and Free France. The advantage that Britain had was the speed of their small planes called Spitfires. The job of the German Luftwaffe at the beginning of the Battle of Britain was to put the Royal Air Force out of action. Germany’s aircraft outnumbered those of the Royal Air Force, but the British had a secret weapon of radar. Radar stations along England’s coast provided warning of approaching planes and helped the Royal Air Force intercept them.
Each side greatly overestimated the number of enemy planes it had shot down, but the British had an advantage over the German invaders. The Battle of Britain drained the Luftwaffe of pilots because Germans that were shot down over Britain spent the rest of the war in prisoner of war camps. By September 1940, the Luftwaffe mistakenly believed it had destroyed the Royal Air Force. The Germans then halted their strikes against Royal Air Force bases and began to bomb London and other civilian targets. They hoped to weaken civilian morale and force Britain to surrender. The bombing of London caused much destruction to the area. Londoners sought safety in subway tunnels during the nightly raids. Air raids known as the Blitz took place nearly every night through the fall and winter. German bombing raids were restricted to nights after British fighter planes shot down many of the bombers in daylight. These raids only caused the British response to be that of a greater determination to fight. Most importantly, the British sent bombers to Berlin after German pilots bombed London, which hurt the morale of Germans. In May 1941, Germany finally gave up its attempts to defeat Britain from the air.
Hitler’s decision to end the attacks on the Royal Air Force enabled Britain to rebuild its air force. Britain’s survival was immensely important later in the war because the country served as a base for the Allied liberation of Europe from Nazi Rule. The Battle of Britain had also caused a great admiration from America for the courage of the British people.
The Battle of Britain saved numerous countries from the rule of Nazi Germany. Even if Germany had defeated Britain, causing no need for bombing on London, the British might have never sent bombers to attack Berlin. Importantly, later in the war there would have been no country of Britain to serve as a base for the Allied freeing of Europe from Nazi rule. If the Royal Air Force had failed in the attempt to stop Germany, Hitler would have been able to invade southern England, thus taking entire control over Europe. This could have eventually led Germany to be the victors of World War II.