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The Measures Taken by Britain to Counter the Threat of Invasion during World War Two.

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Matt Drage 10a History Coursework The Measures Taken by Britain to Counter the Threat of Invasion. When, on September 3rd 1939, Britain declared war on Germany, the mood of the British government and public was serious. Unlike in World War I, no one expected the war to be over by Christmas, and measures to counter the threat were quickly brought in. The speedy response of the British government was due to earlier war scare in 1938 during the Munich crisis, which had provided a valuable practice run. Gas masks had been issued to the entire population, air-raid shelters had been constructed, and, in August 1939, the Emergency Powers Act was introduced, which allowed the Government to control the lives of the British public. One aspect of this was the introduction of ID cards, which everyone had to carry at all times. Also, every person of central European birth in the country was imprisoned on the isle of Wight. This was called internment. The British government estimated that, on the first day of the war, 3,500 tonnes of explosives would be dropped on Britain, and that hundreds of thousands would be killed. ...read more.


Churchill, instead of caving in to international pressure on him to give in to Hitler, began to make a series of speeches to raise morale of the British people. The most important of these came at the end of May and the beginning of June, when the 310,000 BEF survivors returned to England from the beaches of Dunkirk and Calais in France without any of their weapons, tanks, of any other equipment. The British attack was a failure, but Churchill made it seem like a victory. It became known as the 'miracle of Dunkirk'. The Daily Mirror had the headline; 'Bloody Marvellous'. This complete defiance of the German threat and refusal to accept reality became known as the Dunkirk Spirit. After Dunkirk, the British army had only 26 trained divisions of men and 12 almost completely untrained. They only brought back 25 out of the 600 tanks they took with them to the French shores. At the start of 1940 there were only 72 tanks in the entire country, and Britain only had 420 field guns and 163 heavy guns with only 200 shells each. ...read more.


Home Guards took their duties extremely seriously. They could shoot anyone who did not stop on demand, and, occasionally, people were killed. Makeshift defences were constructed across the south coast of England. The 72 tanks and 42 anti-tank guns were spread across the coast, along with the 200,000 soldiers left. Barbed wire and concrete blocks were also placed along the coastlines of Britain, along with mines, railway sleepers, and pillboxes, in the hope of holding back any German forces. Old cars and scaffolding were placed in the middle of fields were put in the middle of fields by farmers to try and stop the Luftwaffe landing on British soil. The RAF also played a large part in the defence of Britain. In conjunction with Radar stations, and Fighter command, they retained air supremacy over Britain's skies. After all of these precautions, Operation Sea-lion, the invasion of Britain, was called off by Hitler. This may have been because he was beginning to concentrate on the invasion of Russia, or because he wished to have air supremacy over Britain. It is quite unlikely, however, that the invasion was called off because of the precautions that Britain took in an attempt to stop the invasion, some of which were simply a waste of time. ...read more.

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