Transport 250,000 troops, their equipment and supplies,
on river barges repurposed for crossing the treacherous
English Channel in order to invade Britain.
Admiral Raeder warned Hitler the German navy was
unable to protect his invasion fleet from British attack,
even under the best of circumstances. In turn,
Hitler's army had no enthusiasm for this adventure.
There was little serious effort to implement Hitler's order.
Hitler gives the mission to defeat Britain to his
second in command, Hermann Goering.
The Luftwaffe commander is supremely confident
of victory and feels no need to coordinate the actions
of his various air fleets for maximum effect.
German intelligence was poor, providing false hope
in place of actual facts to color the decision-making
Churchill tours bombed out Coventry Cathedral.
Churchill has faith in eventual victory over the Nazis
because America is bound to enter the war against Hitler
and their overwhelming industrial might will make
the decided difference in defeating Germany.
Beaverbrook performed his role brilliantly as Air Minister -
his responsibility being to make sure the RAF was never
short in their supply of fighter aircraft.
RAF commander Dowding's system for Air Defense
This pamphlet, available to British citizens in 1941,
describes in some detail how all the organized parts
coordinate to ward off enemy bombers targeting them.
It's all there except for the most critical component -
RADAR - which was still classified TOP SECRET.
Frustrated RAF pilots complained of the small size
of their .30 caliber machine gun rounds. While
lethal to humans they could seem like bouncing BBs
off the hide of a cow for all the good it sometimes did
in knocking a bomber from the sky.
RAF commander Dowding had two guiding rules:
protect the pilots / we've no shortage of planes
shoot down bombers / avoid the fighters
bombers attack vital ground locations
bombers are easier to down
it's how you beat the Germans
Tight confines aboard a German bomber.
Bomber crews made up the vast majority of Luftwaffe deaths.
These men realized their lives were being risked for a façade -
at best a bluff. No real effort was being made to fashion
together an invasion force with any chance of success.
No surprise, then, the morale of the despairing
being a problem.
An official enthusiasm for invasion of England was allowed
to dwindle as bleak autumn weather took hold over the Channel.
Hitler was content with leaving his fleet of U-boats to strangle
the island nation of its Atlantic lifeline to its many critical needs.
Meanwhile Hitler begins plans for a spring invasion of Russia
in the coming year. His alliance with Mussolini will require an
unwanted divergence of armor to bail out the Italian dictator's
hapless military challenge to British forces in North Africa.
Germany's war of quick victory
devolves into a years long battle
of attrition with sustained struggle
on several broad fronts, a conflict
beyond the nation's capacity
l o v e
d a d
© Tom Taylor