Battle of Britain Stamp Sheet
Commemorates Important Allied Victory
This Battle of Britain stamp sheet was issued on the 50th anniversary of the first conflict fought entirely in the air. It pictures aircraft used by both the British and German forces.
The German Army had pushed the Allied forces to the coast of France, and England was the next target. British Prime Minister Winston Churchill refused to consider a peace agreement with Germany, and Britain braced for an attack. In the words of Churchill, “The Battle of France is over, the Battle of Britain is about to begin.”
On July 16, 1940, German Chancellor Adolph Hitler issued Directive Number 16, which stated, “The objective of this operation is to eliminate the English home country as a base for the continuation of the war against Germany.” The invasion plan was code-named “Operation Sea Lion.” Hitler knew the first step was to destroy the Royal Air Force so German ships could cross the English Channel without being attacked from the air.
On August 13, called Eagle Day by the German High Command, the German Air Force, or “Luftwaffe,” began bombing raids on English air bases. When the Royal Air Force runways were bombed, the pilots used private airfields. The servicemen on the ground worked tirelessly to gather supplies and repair the planes.
The German bombers began to fly around the clock, so repairs couldn’t be made on the airfields. The outskirts of London were hit during a night raid, and in retaliation, English planes bombed Berlin. Hitler ordered his air force to change their focus from airfields to industries and cities. He hoped the Royal Air Force would gather together to protect the cities, making them easy targets.
The change in tactics worked in England’s favor. Without the constant bombing, the air bases and planes were repaired. The new German flight path was closer to another British base that engaged the German planes. By October, increased German losses led to postponing Operation Sea Lion indefinitely.
The victory of the British Royal Air Force in the Battle of Britain was the first defeat for Germany’s military. It boosted the morale of those who were valiantly fighting the advance of Nazism.