Please Select your Language:

German spanish Greek

Wartime England



This was their finest hour.”

— Winston Churchill


On June 18, 1940, Winston Churchill delivered to the British House of Commons a speech. He said “The Battle of France is over. I expect the Battle of Britain is about to begin.”

Winston Churchill would not be disappointed, for in the summer and fall of 1940, German and British airplanes clashed in the skies over England. The Battle of Britain would be a significant turning point in the war. On June 17, 1940, the defeated French signed an armistice with Germany.





England now stood alone against the might of all of Germany’s military forces, which had conquered western Europe in less than two months. But Prime Minister Churchill rallied his people through his radio broadcasts, and encouraged those who fought fires and hid in subways during air raids.

England’s Royal Air Force (RAF) fought a gallant fight.

Together, not only was the resistance successful but made clear to the United States and the world that Nazi aggression could be stopped.



Despite continuous bombing of military and civilian targets, Germany’s air force, the Luftwaffe, failed to gain air superiority against England’s RAF. This decisive victory saved England from a sea-borne invasion and possible occupation by Germany.



The Battle of Britain would go down in history as the first battle won in the air, and Churchill would deliver a speech immortalized by the words This was their finest hour and Never was so much owed by so many to so few.


With the Battle of Britain over, the Battle of the Atlantic had yet to be won. Because of Germany’s victories in France and Norway, U-boats or submarines were able to operate throughout the Atlantic unabated. Millions of tons of Allied shipping were destroyed along with many lives. But as the United States took on the role of escort, Allied merchant marine convoys began to deliver much-needed food, raw materials, and military equipment to England. If Germany had prevented these convoys from reaching Great Britain, the outcome of the war could have been drastically different.




On the home front, Churchill went on the radio nightly, while the Royal Family also maintained the morale. When war broke out in England in 1939, King George VI and his wife Queen Elizabeth had already been through three years of his reign. He refused to leave London, and they remained at Buckingham Palace for the duration of the war.




Buckingham Palace was bombed nine times. King George VI would visit British soldiers in Europe and Africa. Both would visit the bombed out shells of buildings around London and other cities which were damaged, delivering encouraging speeches wherever they went.


But in the face of air raids, power outages, and the dire news fought on many fronts, the British would come to be known the world over for their steely resolve.

In uniting themselves and fellow Commonwealth countries — especially Canada, Australia and New Zealand — a new strength would lift England out of the darkest hours of the war.





These three Commonwealth countries, including Punjabi Sikhs from India, would send their military to fight in the Pacific, Europe, and Africa, boosting the morale and strength of English soldiers the world over.

England’s face of war may have seemed grim in the early years, but changed over time with its leadership to that of resilience.





The Imperial War Museum

The BBC — World War II

The US National Archives 


Photos courtesy of the US National Archives, the BBC, the Imperial War Museum