Wednesday, July 29, 2015

The Battle of Britain – Royal Mail First Day Cover

The new Royal Mail First Day Cover is dedicated to The Battle of Britain, celebrating its 75th anniversary. By mid June 1940, Poland, Norway, Holland, Belgium and France had been conquered by Nazi Germany, leaving (among other countries) Britain and her Empire undefeated. As Prime Minister Winston Churchill refused to contemplate surrender, Hitler ordered preparations for an invasion of Britain: ‘Operation Sealion’. However, ‘Sealion’ could not proceed until the RAF had been defeated.
The Luftwaffe, led by Hermann Goering, boasted 2.500 aircraft, while Air Chief Marshall Sir Hugh Dowding’s Fighter Command possessed only 700 fighters. Fortunately, Dowding had created an advanced air defence system, utilising radar, which allowed him to conserve his outnumbered squadrons. This system divided Britain into regional ‘Groups’. Air Vice-Marshall Keith Park’s 11Group, defending London and the south-east, would see most of the fighting.


The Battle of Britain opened in early July with German attacks on Channel convoys. Having probed the defences, Hitler ordered the defeat of the RAF prior to the launch of ‘Sealion’, eventually set for 15 September. From 13 August – ‘Eagle Day’ – the Luftwaffe assaulted Fighter Command in the air and on the ground. The RAF inflicted heavy losses on the enemy, but between 24 August and 6 September 300 fighters were destroyed and 11 Group’s airfields were severely damaged by bombing. Worse, 230 pilots were casualties and there were not enough trained replacements. With Fighter Command seemingly near defeat, Hitler changes tactics.
On 7 September, 300 German bombers and 600 fighters raided London. The bombers caused serious damage and killed 400 civilians, but with the change of target, pressure was taken off Park’s airfields, allowing the RAF to recover and regroup. On 15 September - commemorated as Battle of Britain Day – Fighter Command repulsed two massive raids on the capital, downing 60 enemy aircraft. It was clear that the Luftwaffe could not beat the RAF. Two days later, Hitler postponed ‘Sealion’ indefinitely.
German air raids continued into May 1941, causing widespread destruction and over 40.000 deaths, but Fighter Command had won the battle in September 1940. The RAF’s victory ensured Britain’s survival as a rallying point and strategic base from which the invasion and liberation of Europe could be launched.


2 comments:

  1. Where can I purchase this first day cover?

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  2. You can purchase them from the following link: http://www.fdcovers.com/

    ReplyDelete