I was originally going to devote the letter W to Weather. You know, talk about how Britain is known for rain and fog, and how we encountered little of that during our visit. But recently I have been watching a documentary series on TV entitled “The World Wars” on the History Channel. If you haven’t seen it, you need to. It is very informative and very well done. Because of it, I decided to make this post different from the former ones. Rather than talk about our travels across Britain, I will be talking about something that occurred over 70 years ago that made it possible for me to even make the trip.
One of the things that really struck me was how much of the world the Axis (Germany, Italy, USSR, and Japan) took over during WW2. It had to have struck terror into the Allied nations. In 1940, Hitler decided to strike Britain with an intense bombing campaign. Many cities were attacked over many days. 60% of London was destroyed and thousands of people were killed, not to mention all the injured. It was Hitler’s intent to break the will of the Brits so they would ask Churchill to back down and surrender to the Germans. It had the opposite effect. The Brits were not about to cave in to a ruthless dictator. But, what to do about it?
Although England had a large naval fleet, they knew it could not stop the bombers. So, some fast, agile fighter planes were commissioned to take the battle to the air. Also, advances in radar allowed tracking of the German planes from the time they took off. The counterattack was extremely successful, with the RAF bringing down a large percentage of the bombers making their way to England. Hitler was so distraught over the situation that he decided to call off the British attacks and go after one of his allies, Russia. This ended up being one of the worst decisions he could have made.
One of the commentators on “The World Wars” show said he felt that England’s successful counterattack saved Western Civilization. I think perhaps he is right. And I’m so thankful for the resolve of the British people and their leaders, especially Winston Churchill. I really like Western Civilization and am glad it was saved.
In conclusion, let me symbolically take my hat off to the British. Thanks for being the stopgap during WW2 while the US was still contemplating what to do. It’s good to be your ally.
Here’s a few photos from London in WW2 that I found at http://www.historyplace.com/worldwar2/timeline/london-blitz.htm . I can’t imagine the horror those people felt as they were being attacked night after night during the German blitz.