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Battle of Britain

One of the most significant battles in World War II was The Battle of Britain. The Battle of Britain began on July 10th, 1940 and lasted many months.

Germany started bombing Great Britain from the air during this battle. The battle was fought by the German air force (the Luftwaffe) and the Royal Air Force of Great Britain (RAF).


Germany had taken over much of Europe, including France and then wanted to invade Great Britain. To do this, they had to first defeat Britain’s Royal Air Force (RAF).

This battle was named the Battle of Britain following a speech made by Winston Churchill, who was the prime minister of Britain.

Battle of Britain monument

In this speech, Churchill claimed that the Battle of France is over and that “the Battle of Britain is about to begin.”

Hermann Goering was in charge of the German air force and he led this battle.

Winston Churchill
Winston Churchill

The Battle

Germany began the Battle by attacking towns on the southern coast of England. They did this to try and weaken Britain’s defences.

However, they hadn’t expected that the Royal Air Force of Great Britain would defend their land so well. They had to change their strategy. Germany decided to focus on the Royal Air Force instead.

They began by bombing airport runways.

airport runway

The British air force seemed to be fighting off Hitler’s attacks and the Germans had underestimated how long it would take to defeat the British.

This was when the tactics changed. Now, large cities like London were on the German agenda, and Britain was to be bombed like never before.

London bombed WW2

The streets of these cities totally ruined by these attacks. They never quite looked the same again, just like lots of the countries in Europe where the war was fought.

On September 15th 1940, Germany launched a huge attack from the air, bombing London, which is the capital city of England (in Britain).

London underground air raid shelter
London underground air raid shelter

People were very scared and had to hide out in ‘air raid shelters’ to protect themselves from the bombs. The Royal Air Force shot down the German planes which weakened the German attack.

Imagine the noise, dust and chaos on the streets of London as bombs were dropped, fires were started and planes were falling from the sky?

It was very scary for everyone, especially children.

Battle of Britain firefighter

The battle in the air did not stop there. They also bombed major ports like Liverpool and big cities like Manchester in the North of England.

Many children who lived in these cities had to be evacuated from their homes.

This meant that they had to leave their families and go and live in the countryside with families who would keep them safe until the war was over.

Loading bombs onto a World War II plane

How did Britain win the Battle?

It was a bit surprising that Britain won this battle because Germany had more planes and pilots. However, Britain had a secret weapon up their sleeve: radar.

Radar technology allowed Britain to see when planes were coming in advance. Britain could then target German planes quite accurately.

The Battle of Britain

There were also warning noises called ‘air raid sirens’ that also called out to let the people of Britain know that an attack was coming.

People were supposed to put their lights out so that German planes could not see from above. The warning noises let people know they should hide in their air raid (bomb) shelters.

Quiz – Time to Test Your Knowledge!

  • What was the German air force called?
  • What was the British air force called?
  • Where did the name Battle of Britain come from (whose speech)?
  • When did the city of London get bombed?
  • Where did people have to hide while the city was being bombed?

World War 2

World War 2 map of Europe 1941-1942

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