VI. The World Wars and the Interwar Period, 1914–1945 > K. World War II, 1939–1945 > 4. The Battle of Britain, 1940
  The Encyclopedia of World History.  2001.
4. The Battle of Britain, 1940
1940, June
The fall of France and the loss of war materiel in the evacuation from Dunkirk led the British prime minister, Winston Churchill, to appeal to the U.S. government for military supplies. These were released by the War Department (June 3), and three weeks later a first shipment, including 500,000 rifles, 80,000 machine guns, 900 75-mm field guns, and 130 million rounds of ammunition, reached Britain.  1
On the fall of France the Germans occupied islands in the English Channel and intensified their air attacks on British cities, communications, and shipping.  2
Aug. 8
German bombers opened an offensive designed to destroy British air strength by blasting the airfields and vital industries.  3
Aug. 15
One thousand German planes ranged as far north as Scotland. Croydon airfield was bombed. The British retaliated with heavy raids on Berlin, Düsseldorf, Essen, and other German cities.  4
Aug. 17
The German government proclaimed a total blockade of the waters around Great Britain.  5
Sept. 2
An important defense agreement was concluded between Great Britain and the United States. Fifty American destroyers were transferred to Britain to combat the air and submarine menace. In exchange the U.S. received a 99-year lease of naval and air bases in Newfoundland, Bermuda, the Bahamas, Jamaica, Antigua, St. Lucia, Trinidad, and British Guiana.  6
Sept. 11
The British bombed Continental ports, including Antwerp, Ostend, Calais, and Dunkirk, to frustrate German invasion preparations.  7
Sept. 16
Improved British defense measures inflicted heavy losses on German air raiders, 185 invading planes crashing in one day.  8
Sept. 27
A GERMAN-ITALIAN-JAPANESE PACT was concluded at Berlin providing for a ten-year military and economic alliance. The three contracting powers further promised each other mutual assistance in the event that any one of them became involved in war with a power not then a belligerent.  9
Oct. 10
Resuming the air assault with full intensity, the German Luftwaffe raided London heavily. Some Italian air squadrons joined in the attack. But shorter days, stormy weather, and improved defenses diminished the effectiveness of the air arm.  10
Nov. 10
In a supreme effort at crushing British industrial resources and demoralizing the population, the Germans blasted the industrial city of Coventry with destructive effect. Thereafter the air attacks became more sporadic. The British had survived the worst of the aerial Blitzkrieg, and after November the winter weather made any attempt at invasion less likely. German losses in aircraft had been heavy: an official estimate placed them at 2,375 German to 800 British planes destroyed in the period Aug. 8–Oct. 31. But many British cities had been severely shattered and burned, and 14,000 civilians had been killed in London alone. British losses at sea had also been heavy. On Nov. 5 Churchill declared that the submarine boat had become a greater menace than the bombing plane.  11
The Encyclopedia of World History, Sixth edition. Peter N. Stearns, general editor. Copyright © 2001 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Maps by Mary Reilly, copyright 2001 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.