As France lied prostrate like an incapacitated boxer in the ring, an “impromptu” government took over power and gradually led the country to the most disgraceful collaboration with the enemy.
Almost the entire French Air Force withdrew to bases in North Africa, waiting to see the turn of events; and things did change fast. A large number of pilots, mechanics and other air experts were already in England, providing back-up to the OTU (Operation Training Units).
In the morning of August 8, 1940, the following agenda was read out to all Royal Air Force airmen and soldiers on English territory:
“The battle is starting for England. All RAF members must always bear in mine that the fate of generations lies in their hands.”
Dawning of the Eagle Day
On the German side,….planes were aligned, including DO17s, which had continuously been subjected to changes never completed, JU87s, HE111s, which were not actually bombers; they were less robust than the JU88 and could fly for at most six hours. The Germans also mobilized Bf110s, Bf109s, and FW 190s.
On the English side, fighter aircrafts like the Hurricane and the famous Spitfire V and IX were mobilized. When the hour for revenge rang, a multitude of bombers clouded the sky with the intention of eviscerating the Nazi.
On September 7, 1940, (the Eagle Day), the Battle of London started, with Operation Adler Tag. The first night raids targeted docks, stores and depots. Before long, the entire big bend of the Thames was in flames. The losses incurred by the Germans led to the decision to carry out night raids.
Never in the field of human conflict was so much owed by so many to so few
In London, sirens sounded day and night. The English fighter fleet was getting exhausted. Meanwhile, British pilots who had been shot down were rescued while German crews, who happened to be caught alive, were taken prisoners. On May 10, 1941, the last London assault took place, after which no more sirens were heard. The “Blitz” was over. By June 1, 1941, the English casualty was forty thousand dead and fifty thousand seriously wounded.
From July to October, 415 English pilots were killed in this crucial battle. Prime Minister Winston Churchill, on August 20, expressed the gratitude of British citizens for this sacrifice:
“Never in the field of human conflict was so much owed by so many to so few”.