<< Back to Online Exhibitions

 

Introduction

The Battle of Britain was the aerial conflict between British and German air forces in the skies over the United Kingdom in the summer and autumn of 1940. It was one of the most important moments in Britain's twentieth century history and a decisive turning point of the Second World War. Royal Air Force Fighter Command defeated the Luftwaffe's attempt to gain air supremacy over southern England and saved Britain from German invasion and conquest.

Wreck of a German bomber shot down by a Spitfire (HU44270)

The defensive victory won in 1940 dashed German hopes of a swift end to the war in western Europe and ensured that Britain remained a free and independent state able to carry on the war. Victory was eventually won in partnership with more powerful allies, America and the Soviet Union, but, without the retention of the island base, in close proximity to the European mainland, it would have been impossible to launch the liberation of Europe and achieve the eventual defeat of Nazi Germany.