Independence Day, 1941

For visitors from outside the United States, today, the Fourth of July, is celebrated as Independence Day.

The clip below, Indepence Day in 1941, reflects the fact that, although World War II was already raging in Europe, the United States had not yet entered directly into that conflict.

However, in March of 1941, Congress had passed what was generally called the Lend-Lease Act, which permitted President Franklin D. Roosevelt to send both military and non-military aid to support Great Britain in the war in Europe.

When Roosevelt gave this speech, France had already fallen to the military of Nazy Germany four months earlier.

The Battle of Britain, which was fought in the skies over Britain, would begin six days later, on July 10, 1941. At first, the German air attacks were primarily focused on shipping in the English Channel separating Britain from continental Europe. Attacks were focused on ships and Channel ports.

Shortly thereafter, the focus of the Luftwaffe was changed to destroying British military aircraft to pave the way for the invasion of Britain. This involved attacks on military airfields and continuing to destroy planes used by the Royal Air Force. British radar stations on the South Coast were also heavily bombed..

August 13 was declared, ‘Eagle Day’ (Adlertag): The Luftwaffe launched intense raids on RAF airfields, focusing their attacks in the south east of England.

August 18 would be called The Hardest Day by contemporary British historians and featured fierce air battles between the Luftwaffe and the RAF, with severe loss of RAF aircraft on the ground.

August 19 – September 6, 1940 – The Luftwaffe continued to bomb towns, cities and airfields across the south coast of England, the Midlands and the north east.

On August 20, British Prime Minister, Winston Churchill, spoke in the House of Commons to acknowledge the enormous gratitude the nation owed to British & Allied aircrew: ”Never in the field of human conflict has so much been owed by so many to so few.”

24 August: During night bombing of Britain, a lost German bomber formation dropped bombs on London by mistake.

August 25: In retaliation of the bombing of London, the RAF launched their first bombing raid on Berlin.

August 31 : Fighter Command suffered its heaviest losses to date. 303 Squadron (Polish Squadron) – based at RAF Northolt – became operational.

September 7, 1940 – 31 October 31, 1940
Mass bombing raids were launched against London, and continued against other major British cities.

September15: Battle of Britain day. The Luftwaffe launched its heaviest bombing raids on London. Fighter Command successfully fought the attacking aircraft, resulting in heavy Luftwaffe losses.

September 17: Hitler postponed the invasion of Britain (Operation Sealion) It was not known then, but following this decision, Hitler turned his attention towards Russia and, while the air raids continued, their frequency and intensity began to decline as Luftwaffe planes and crews began to be transferred to the Eastern Front to attack Russia.

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Here’s a link that will take you to YouTube if this embed doesn’t work well for you.