When Was The Battle Of Britain

When Was The Battle Of Britain?

When was the Battle of Britain? The dates vary according to the academics. Officially, the Battle of Britain began on 10th July 1940 and lasted until 31st October 1940. These dates represent the British perspective for the most intense daylight bombing. German historians differentiate from this. They date it from the middle of August 1940 through to the end of June 1941. At this time, the German bombers withdrew to prepare for operation Barbarossa and the Blitz ended. Let us look at the timelines.

10th July 1940 (phase one)

On the 18th June 1940, Winston Churchill spoke the following words to Parliament. ‘…the Battle of France is over. I expect that the Battle of Britain is about to begin.’ The Luftwaffe had two objectives. The first, to disable Britain by ramping up attacks on British ports and ships. The second, to eliminate the RAF in the air and on the ground.

Significant dates of the German forces achieving stage one of their objectives are as follows. On 4thJuly the Luftwaffe sank four freighters and damaged three others in the Channel. As a result, the Channel was closed to merchant ships wanting to cross the Atlantic. The 10th July saw a major attack by the Luftwaffe, 120 German bombers and fighters struck a British convoy in that very Channel, while 70 more bombers attacked dockyard installations in South Wales. This marked the start of the Battle of Britain.

During the initial stages of the Battle, the RAF successfully brought down and damaged more enemy aircraft than they lost. Despite being significantly outnumbered, the RAF had superior radar, making a sneak attack by the Germans unlikely. Britain also has superior aircraft. The Supermarine Spitfire could turn tighter than the German ME109s. This helped the pilots to elude pursuers.

17th July – 12th August (phase two)

On 16th July 1940, Adolf Hitler issued his War Directive No. 16. The RAF museum website gives an excellent breakdown of the phases of the Battle of Britain and states this is when the frequency of attacks by the Luftwaffe ramped up. The Germans increased attacks to now include more inland raids. This tactic aimed to wear the RAF down. Night-time bombing campaigns increased, particularly on the West Midlands, East Coast and RAF facilities. Both sides received heavy losses.

The Hawker Hurricane’s (more numerous than the Spitfire’s) attributed to a lot of the German losses. The RAF preferred tactic involved the Hurricane’s being deployed against formations of bombers, whilst the Spitfires fought against the escorts. Clearly Britain needed a collective ‘stiff upper lip’. Shortages in equipment, especially aluminium, led to the government asking for donations of household goods. ‘We will turn your pots and pans into Spitfires and Hurricanes’, and they did! Pilot fatigue and a shortage of ground crew had affected the RAF, but gradually numbers increased.

13th August – 6th September (phase three)

This period in the Battle saw a significant damage to the southern bases. Despite this, Fighter Command continued to succeed in some significant air battles. 15th August became known as ‘The Greatest Day’. The Germans mounted its largest number of sorties in the campaign. Assuming RAF efforts to be concentrated in the south, the Luftwaffe attacked the North East of England. However, out of 115 bombers and 35 fighters sent, Fighter Command destroyed 75 planes and damaged many others beyond repair.

The 18th August recorded massive losses on both sides however, duped ‘The Hardest Day’. Poor weather conditions the following week gave both sides some time to review their situation. Despite unexpected losses the Luftwaffe would not quit, they continued their assault against the RAF. By the beginning of September however, they decided to turn their attentions to the suburbs of London.

7th September – 2nd October (phase four)

On 3rd September 1940, Herman Göering, the commander of the Luftwaffe. ‘My fellow commanders, we are now on the brink of victory. Our intelligence has …now informed us that the RAF is now down to less than a hundred fighter aircraft, the airfields protecting London are out of action because of the superb and accurate bombing of our bomber force……The next target must be London itself.’

He was right. August’s onslaught reduced RAF numbers significantly. At the beginning of August an average squadron included 26 pilots, by the end of this vicious period, numbers averaged 16 pilots per squadron. Between 24th August to 6th September alone, Fighter Command recorded 295 fighter aircraft lost and 171 severely damaged. Compare this to just 269 new and repaired Hurricanes and Spitfires being created.

Seizing the opportunity and hoping to further deplete the RAF into submission, Germany began its assault on London. Relentless bombing of the capital ensued but despite the odds being against them Fighter Command kept defending the skies. Worsening weather at the beginning of October gave the Luftwaffe an opportunity to withdraw and review its tactics once again.

3rd October – 31st October (phase five)

The Luftwaffe scaled back its daytime attacks and concentrated on more single-engine fighter bomber raids. Shorter days and more difficult weather conditions meant raids on clear days of up to 100 aircraft. The BF 109s used by the German forces had an advantage over the Hurricane as it could reach altitudes of over 20,000 feet. The Spitfires could achieve this too however, so tactics changed to have Spitfires flying to monitor for invasion, once spotted, more Spitfires from the ground joined them for the battle.

The Luftwaffe changed tactic once more and began a campaign of bombing Britain into submission, targeting civilians and infrastructure rather than just aiming to defeat the RAF. The Battle of Britain came to an end, but the Blitz was just beginning.

Conclusion

When was the Battle of Britain? It was during a short three- and half-month period, the summer and autumn of 1940. A short period of time with significant impact on our history. The U.K lost 1065 aircraft and 544 young pilots. Nearly another 1000 from other commands also lost their lives. Sir Winston Churchill’s famous speech sums it up perfectly, ‘Never was so much owed by so many to so few’. It was the Battle that saved Britain from German Invasion.

Here at Sweet and Nostalgic we stock a lovely rang of World War II memorabilia gifts. In addition to this we have a plethora of nostalgic gift ideas covering the whole of the 20th Century. We are pleased to be in the top 50 of Feedspot’s  Gift Websites and Blogs to follow in 2020.

 

 

 

 

The D-Day Landings

The D-Day Landings

On Tuesday 6th June 1944, the Allied invasion of Normandy in Operation Overload began. Codenamed Operation Neptune, more commonly known now as D-Day and the largest seaborne invasion in history. The D-Day landings marked the start of the campaign to free North-West Europe from the Nazis.

Planning the Operation

Planning for the operation began in 1943. However, talks about completing such an offensive had been ongoing between Winston Churchill and U.S President Franklin D. Roosevelt since early 1942. You can read a full account of their fluctuating support for such an assault on History.com. The North Africa and Italian campaigns took precedent, they proved to be lengthier and costlier than expected. Operation Overlord finally came into planning at the end of 1943. Leading up to the invasion, the Allies conducted a military deception, called Operation Bodyguard. Bodyguard succeeded in its mission. It misled the Nazis over the date and location of the mass landings. As a result, the Nazis were surprised by the D-day landings and Hitler delayed sending reinforcements.

D-Day

Poor weather delayed the D-Day landings for 24 hours. Any further delay would  have resulted in plans being put back by at least two weeks. Why? The plans had been carefully devised around the phase of the moon, tides, and the time of day. As a result, only a handful of days a month proved suitable.

The attack began with a bombardment of German defences along the coastline. This allowed the troops to get ashore easier. At the same time, planes and gliders dropped allied soldiers behind the German defences, taking control of key roads and bridges. Over 6,000 vessels landed allied troops, their objective, to link the Normandy coastline. This involved landing at five key beaches: Utah, Omaha, Gold, Juno, and Sword. The men faced heavy gunfire, barbed wire, mines, and wooden stakes. Casualties were extremely high, particularly at Omaha with its large cliffs. The five beaches were not connected until 11th June.

The Casualties

More than 150,000 brave, young soldiers from America, Britain and Canada stormed the beaches of Normandy. Poor weather and German resistance made the landings bloody and chaotic. Casualties in this first wave were horrendous. Nevertheless, by the end of the day, each of the beaches had been claimed. The Allied fatalities for D-Day alone amounted to an estimated between 5,000 and 12,000. German casualties (killed, wounded, or missing) it is estimated numbered between 4,000 – 9,000. Just 2 days after the D-Day landings, the first Allied cemetery was dedicated. There are now 27 war cemeteries in Normandy. Some have fewer than 30 graves in them, the largest has over 20,000.

The Outcome

D-Day gave the Allies the foothold it needed to turn the tide against the Nazis, though it had not entirely gone to plan. Capturing Caen, for example, a major objective, did not occur until July 21st. The Battle of Normandy, in fact, dragged on until August. Allied casualties amplified to over 226,000! There is no doubt though, that the D-Day landings were instrumental in winning World War II. The attack set on that day lasted for 11 months. It led the Allies to Berlin and Adolf Hitler’s Bunker Headquarters. On 8th May 1945, the World celebrated Victory in Europe. 3 Months later, in August, World War II ended with Victory against Japan too.

Here at Sweet and Nostalgic we have a wide range of World War II memorabilia available, including the D-Day landings. Come and have a look! Our products span the whole of the 20th Century, a remarkable period in our history.

VE Day 75th Anniversary GIfts

VE Day 75th Anniversary Gifts

On 8th May 1945 the Allied Forces of World War II officially accepted the unconditional surrender of Nazi Germany’s armed forces. This ended nearly six years of a war that had cost so much. Millions of lives had been lost, homes and cities had been destroyed and families torn apart.

The end of World War II itself, did not occur until Japan surrendered on 15th August 1945. Despite this however, celebrations erupted in towns and cities across the world. Over a million people took to the streets of Great Britain singing and dancing. In London, crowds massed in Trafalgar Square and up The Mall to Buckingham Palace. There King George VI, Queen Elizabeth and Prime Minister Winston Churchill appeared on the balcony of the palace. They greeted the cheering crowds, sharing their feelings of relief and pride. Famously Princess Elizabeth (the future Queen Elizabeth II) and her sister Princess Margaret joined the masses incognito. The princesses fully immersed themselves in the revelry and joy, a very rare feeling of freedom.

2020 will observe the 75th Anniversary of this historic event and there are many VE Day 75th Anniversary Gifts available to mark this milestone and the events of World War II. Take a look at our replica miniature war medals or our vintage coins, they’ll make a great addition to your commemorative goody bags!

Nazi Germany Surrenders

On 7th May 1945, at the headquarters of the Supreme Allied Commander, General Eisenhower in Reims, France,  General Alfred Jodl signed the treaty on behalf of Germany. The treaty officially came into effect the next day.  The Imperial War Museum website states that ‘Germany’s surrender was not a surprise’.  Indeed, the news had been anticipated by many for some time. It was late on 7th May that the BBC interrupted its scheduled broadcast with a news flash. The announcement stated that Victory in Europe Day would be a National holiday and would take place the next day.

Newspapers rallied to run the headlines. Special edition papers were printed and distributed to commemorate the long-awaited announcement. We have some excellent examples in our personalised newspaper books which make wonderful VE Day 75th anniversary gifts for enthusiasts. The books contain scans from original newspaper articles. Each book captures the stories and events of World War Two as they happened, including VE day. With no embellishments or alterations, the book’s contents are printed exactly as they were when first published. Our World War Two Pictorial Book also features masses of high-quality photographs. It provides a provocative and educational insight into WWII.

Celebrations Begin

Many people didn’t wait for the official day to celebrate victory in Europe, they began the festivities as soon as they heard the news! Colourful bunting lined the streets, parades were organised, bonfires were lit, pubs were filled with revellers. Churchill had assurances from the Ministry of Food that there was enough beer in the capital!  Dancing broke out, licensing hours were extended, and dance halls stayed open until midnight. People had endured so much, from horrendous air raids (captured in our Blitz memorabilia packs), to strict rationing of food and clothing. They were more than ready to let loose and enjoy themselves.

The 8th May was, however, a day of mixed emotions. The noise and celebrations were too much for some who mourned the loss of their loved ones. Others remained worried for those still serving overseas. The war years had taken their toll on many, leaving some individuals feeling weary and not in the party mood.

Winston Churchill reflected these feelings of mixed emotions in his famous speech to the nation at 3pm on 8th May. ‘We may allow ourselves a brief period of rejoicing; but lets us not forget for a moment the toils and efforts that lie ahead.’ He knew that they still had to defeat Japan and that the political, economic and social impacts of the war would be felt for many years to come. Indeed, ration books remained in place until 1954, nearly ten years later. Perhaps, if you are organising a VE day party, you might like to give everyone their own ration book (they can write their name in it)  or a ration book themed mug, they make great VE day 75th anniversary gifts? On the other hand, why not treat yourself to a 1940’s hamper, packed with memorabilia for that authentic party feel?Retro Gift Hamper

VE Day Celebrations in 2020

It is ironic, that the 75th anniversary year for VE day should now be hit by its own horrendous difficulties. A new war, an unseen enemy, Coronavirus has impacted almost every country in the world. NHS workers, Care givers and keyworkers are the new heroes whilst thousands of people have sadly lost their lives.

Celebration plans for VE day have, understandably, been put on hold with a tentative hope that they may now be combined with VJ day celebrations on 15th and 16th August. During these difficult times sentiments from World War II are being echoed throughout the country. Even the Queen, in an unprecedented address to the nation, recalled the events of World War II. The Queen recollected how she and her sister had spoken to the evacuees to have courage whilst parted from loved ones. Her parting words indeed were, ‘We will meet again’.

We would like to reiterate those feelings here at Sweet and Nostalgic. These are troublesome times, but look back to World War II when our parents, grandparent and great grandparents faced such traumatic difficulties and loss. They survived, they came through it. When this terrible time in our current history is over, we will celebrate as they did with joy, revelry and of course reflective remembrance for those that we have lost. Stay Safe x

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World War II Educational Resources

World War II Educational Resources

WWII touched the lives of all that lived (and died) through it, from 1939 -1945. It was a global affair, involving most of the world’s countries.  WWII features heavily in Britain’s educational curriculum and is taught to us from a very young age. It is vital that children learn about the horrors, the politics and the social and economic impact that the war had, but this needs to be done, above all, sensitively and without glorification. There are a number of excellent World War II educational resources available online to help teachers, those home schooling (especially during lock down) or indeed keen amateur historians.

The key to engaging students with learning is to make it interesting and fun. Encouraging them to use their imaginations, to explore, discover and question, will certainly have a positive effect in their understanding for the events of the Second World War . Online classrooms like BBC Bitesize and Teaching Ideas are excellent. These wonderful sites provide fun games, videos and activities to engage children. Activities include word searches, poetry templates and quizzes. The exercises are all tailored to specific age groups and are free to use!

We all learn through stimulation and it is generally understood that this is achieved through one of four different methods, known as the VARK learning styles. These styles are divided into four groups; Visual, Auditory, Reading/Writing and Kinesthetic. Below are a few ideas on how to engage each of the learning styles with World War Two.

Visual Learners

Visual learners enjoy graphics and charts. Creating timelines for events during this period is a great way to help visual students retain dates. Our World War II memorabilia packs also make excellent visual aids and specialise in all aspects of the era. The packs include ‘Children’s War’, ‘The Home Front’ and ‘The Blitz’. Each one contains replica documents like ration books, images and examples of advice leaflets given at the time. They are a visual feast for those wishing to learn more about the war time period.

Auditory Learners

Auditory learners like to recite information out loud to remember it. They prefer to listen to information and discuss it, rather than reading it. Watching educational videos about the era, like those on watchlearnknow.org, for example, can really benefit children retain the details. It is a great idea to set up discussion groups too, giving them an opportunity to talk about the videos they have watched.

Reading/Writing

If you have students that prefer to learn through the more traditional method of reading and writing, why not try simple question and answer handout sheets?  Researching information online or from books and making notes is another effective method. There are some very informative World War II books available in our shop. Another great idea, read some original newspaper articles from the day, then set a challenge to students to write an article themselves. There’s a superb selection of replica newspapers available at Sweet and Nostalgic, these are excellent World War II educational resources.

Kinesthetic

Finally, Kinesthetic learners. They prefer a more hands on approach. Often thought of as ‘tactile’ learners, these individuals are stimulated by far more than simply utilising their ‘touch’ sense. These learners tend to use all their senses equally when learning. They are very active, so flash cards and practical exercises can be very beneficial. We stock World War II educational colouring postcards and posters suitable for younger students. These packs create a fun, practical way to learn some of the facts of this era and come with the colouring pencils too! Immersing youngsters into the period itself can be great fun too! Role playing events, for instance, purchasing goods with a ration book and vintage coins, can be really effective. Take a look at our World War II gifts for more ideas.

We have just touched upon the plethora of World War II educational resources available to teachers, students, parents and keen amateur historians.  The internet is awash with information and we hope our suggestions will help guide you towards some original ones. World War II is a period in our history that should never be repeated and we believe at Sweet and Nostalgic that it is only through education, understanding and remembrance that we, the human race, will avoid such an atrocity recurring again in our futures.

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What was life like in Wartime Britain and the 1940’s?

What was life like in Wartime Britain and the 1940’s?

The outbreak of war created new values and attitudes, a feeling that everyone should do their bit towards the war effort. ‘Digging for victory’ and ‘Make do and Mend’ became popular phrases and encouraged community spirit. So, ‘ Keep Calm and Carry On‘ reading, what was life like in wartime Britain and the 1940’s?

How to survive rationing during World War Two

Initial Action

Evacuation of children from the major cities began in 1939. Everyone issued with gas masks were encouraged to carry them at all times. Food rationing soon came in, with ration books issued to everyone. Bacon, butter, sugar and meat were issued on a points system quickly followed by tea. The Ministry of Food printed Leaflets and booklet to help to make the most of the limited food that was available. Production of posters identifying aircraft and ships helped to make the public aware of the enemy.

Women In War


Women, essential to the war effort, filled in the gaps left by the men who had gone to fight. They became munition workers, post women, conductors and police officers. Famously, organisations like the Land Army, the WRNS, WAAF and ATS recruited women. They plugged the gap in the workforce. Women, paid significantly less than the men, however, often struggled with the balance between work and home.

The Blitz

The Blitz, a German campaign to bomb Britain in 1940 and 1941, killed approximately 43,000 civilians. Targeting cities and key locations across Britain, the Luftwaffe hit London, Liverpool, Bristol, Belfast, Cardiff and Swansea, to name but a few. Despite the severity of the attacks, a ‘blitz’ spirit developed, clear evidence of the staunch determination to succeed felt by the nation.

Entertainment

Newspapers headlined the major events like the Blitz, Dunkirk, The Dambusters and of course Victory in Europe. Movies shown in cinemas boosted morale and the radio became the focus for the latest news and family entertainment. Popular songs captured the mood and remain symbols of the period in their own right. Morale boosters, such as Lilli Marlene, kept the spirits up and poignant songs like ‘We’ll Meet Again’, filled hearts with a feeling of hope. Vera Lynn and Anne Shelton became forces sweethearts.

The Home

Clothes, rationed from June 1941, created an emphasis on making do and mending what you had. Sweets rationed to three ounces a week, from July 1942, led to Jelly Babies, liquorice and lemon sherbets becoming popular. Everything was in short supply particularly saucepans, toothbrushes and soap. Families, encouraged to economise on fuel and electricity, switched off unnecessary lights and used no more than five inches of hot water in the bath.

1940’s Post War Economic Recovery

The war in Europe came to an end on 8th May 1945 and Japan finally surrendered on 14th August.

1946 saw rapid change in industry from wartime to peacetime production. In an attempt to recoup the costs of war however, the Government encouraged exporting most of the products. In addition to this, the Government needed to tackle a shortage in housing. The destruction of thousands of homes during the bombing raids and an influx of servicemen, recently demobilised and in need of accommodation, increased demand. A temporary solution came in the form of prefabricated homes. Council house building started in earnest too, with new estates springing up. The Labour government set out plans to nationalise industries like coal, gas and electricity. They also added railways, roads and ports to the agenda, with the railways being nationalised in 1949.

Post War Life

Despite the end of the war,  rationing continued. Bread, which had not been rationed during the war, became rationed for two years because of a world shortage of grain.

Some great children’s stories found their way onto bookshelves during this period. The Reverend W. Awdry’s book Thomas the Tank Engine steamed its way into the Nation’s hearts.  Enid Blyton’s Famous Five series and Rupert the Bear continued to be printed.

The New Look’ by Dior revolutionised the fashion industry. However, with material still rationed, the extravagant look remained beyond the reach of most people.

More people now took paid annual leave and Butlin’s and Pontin’s holiday camps proved popular although guests were reminded to take their ration books.

Here, At Sweet and Nostalgic, we stock a great range of 1940’s and World War Two gift ideas. Come and have a look! Our products create a warm sense of nostalgia for this influential decade. Our range covers the whole of the 20th Century, so there’s something on our site for everyone interested in the most influential century that the world has known to date. 

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