The Battle of Britain is unusual in that it was named before it was fought. Its name came from Prime Minister Winston Churchill in his famous speech of 18 June 1940:
What General Weygand has called The Battle of France is over.
The battle of Britain is about to begin.
Upon this battle depends the survival of Christian civilisation.
Upon it depends our own British life and the long continuity of our institutions and our Empire.
The whole fury and might of the enemy must very soon be turned on us.
Hitler knows that he will have to break us in this island or lose the war.
If we can stand up to him, all Europe may be free and the life of the world may move forward into broad, sunlit uplands.
But if we fail, then the whole world, including the United States, including all that we have known and cared for, will sink into the abyss of a new Dark Age made more sinister, and perhaps more protracted, by the lights of a perverted science.
Let us therefore brace ourselves to our duties, and so bear ourselves that, if the British Empire and its Commonwealth last for a thousand years, men will still say, "This was their finest hour".
The Battle of Britain was the first major campaign fought entirely by air forces. British historians have defined the duration as from 10 July 1940 to 31 October 1940.
The primary objective of Nazi Germany was to achieve a negotiated peace settlement with Britain.
In July 1940, an air and sea blockade began with the Luftwaffe mainly targeting coastal shipping convoys, ports and shipping centres.
On 1 August 1940, the Luftwaffe was directed to achieve air superiority over the RAF with the aim of incapacitating RAF Fighter Command.
Twelve days later the Luftwaffe shifted its attacks to RAF airfields and infrastructure.
As the Battle progressed, the Luftwaffe also targeted factories involved in the aircraft production and strategic infrastructure.
Eventually, it employed terror bombing on areas of political significance and civilians.
By denying the Luftwaffe air superiority over England, the British forced Hitler to postpone and eventually cancel an amphibious and airborne invasion of Britain, Operation Sea Lion.
by Steve Dunster