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Churchill, in eloquent speeches, rallied his people and expressed the determination of Britain to meet "the whole fury and might of the enemy.

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From the north cape of Norway to the Pyrenees stretched a vast arc of coastline from which enemy submarines, surface ships and aircraft threatened Britain's maritime lifelines; in the air the German Air Force outnumbered the British three to one. It was fortunate that an invasion did not come, for the forces in Britain were not yet prepared to meet such a powerful foe.


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While the troops had been rescued from Dunkirk, they had been compelled to leave behind most of their equipment. Further, many of them had not yet received adequate training. The 1st Canadian Division, which still possessed the bulk of its equipment, therefore assumed a position of vital importance.

It engaged in intense preparation for a role of counter-attack against the expected German assault. However, before a Channel crossing could be attempted, the Royal Air Force would have to be knocked from the skies.

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On August 12, the German Air Force, the Luftwaffe , struck at Britain attacking the radar stations, bombing the airfields, and engaging British fighters in an attempt to gain air supremacy. Had the policy been continued the Luftwaffe might have been victorious, but the Germans switched to mass daylight raids on London giving the Fighter Command the needed respite, and they were able to inflict staggering losses on the Luftwaffe. Unable to control the air, Hitler indefinitely postponed Operation Sea Lion. The Battle of Britain was over.

Many Canadians served in the squadrons of Spitfires and Hurricanes which repulsed the Luftwaffe in the summer of It shot down three of them and damaged four others with the loss of one pilot and one plane.

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Its next meeting with the enemy was not as fortunate as it was attacked out of the sun by Messerschmitts and lost three planes. The operations rooms also directed other elements of the defence network, including anti-aircraft guns, searchlights and barrage balloons.

The Dowding System could process huge amounts of information in a short period of time. It allowed Fighter Command to manage its valuable — and relatively limited — resources, making sure they were not wasted.

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The Battle of Britain took place between July and October The Germans began by attacking coastal targets and British shipping operating in the English Channel. They launched their main offensive on 13 August.

Attacks moved inland, concentrating on airfields and communications centres. Fighter Command offered stiff resistance, despite coming under enormous pressure. During the last week of August and the first week of September, in what would be the critical phase of the battle, the Germans intensified their efforts to destroy Fighter Command. Airfields, particularly those in the south-east, were significantly damaged but most remained operational.

On 31 August, Fighter Command suffered its worst day of the entire battle.

The Battle of Britain

But the Luftwaffe was overestimating the damage it was inflicting and wrongly came to the conclusion that the RAF was on its last legs. Fighter Command was bruised but not broken. This would be an error of critical importance. On 15 September Fighter Command repelled another massive Luftwaffe assault, inflicting severe losses that were becoming increasingly unsustainable for the Germans.

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Although fighting would continue for several more weeks, it had become clear that the Luftwaffe had failed to secure the air superiority needed for invasion. While most of the pilots were British, Fighter Command was an international force. There were even some pilots from the neutral United States and Ireland.

These were followed by other national units, including two Czech fighter squadrons. Ground crew — including riggers, fitters, armourers, and repair and maintenance engineers — looked after the aircraft. Factory workers helped keep aircraft production up.


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  5. The Observer Corps tracked incoming raids — its tens of thousands of volunteers ensured that the 1, observation posts were continuously manned. By July, nearly 1. While victory in the Battle of Britain was decisively gained by Fighter Command, defence was carried out by the whole of the Royal Air Force.