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Dunkirk and The Battle of Britain - Why was Britain able to win the Battle of Britain?

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Dunkirk and The Battle of Britain Why was Britain able to win the Battle of Britain? The importance of factors such as determination, fighting spirit, and even organisation cannot be underestimated as important factors in Britain's victory. If there is one thing that the British have been distinguished for, it has to be organisation. On the eve of the Battle of Britain as well as throughout it, they faced two major problems though: a lack of qualified pilots and a lack of planes. A lot of the RAF's strength had been used up in France. So in stepped Lord Beaverbrook, the newly appointed minister for air production. He began to turn things around by reorganising airplane production and repair units. Productivity soared and this allowed the RAF to equip all its operational fighter squadrons and at least keep in touch with meeting the mounting losses it would face. The organisation was in place to keep the RAF in the air and fighting, and that was vital if Britain was going to win. Planes were useless without pilots; however, they still had few of those. Training new pilots at that time took almost a year. Things did begin to change following what happened in France, but with the Battle of Britain looming, there simply was not time to train pilots properly. Training was shortened even further as the battle intensified, until new pilots began to arrive for operations having had only hours of training. Such inexperience would show in the air and would also reflect in the numbers of RAF losses. This makes the British achievement in the battle even more amazing and raises the question as to whether the battle was won because of the pilots or in spite of them. But what they did took amazing bravery and emphasizes the fighting spirit and determination of those involved, to still take to the air knowing they faced almost certain death, but knowing the alternative would be even worse. ...read more.


At face value, I agree with this source. It shows many boats of all sizes suggesting that these were civilian vessels such as pleasure boats and fishing boats. I know from my studies that ordinary men, not necessarily soldiers went to Dunkirk to help with the evacuation. Most of the soldiers were brought home by destroyers, which were helped by every sort of privately owned vessel. Also, the source shows masses of soldiers on the beaches clambering into boats. I believe this was a correct interpretation as there were 338, 000 men brought to England from the beaches between 27 May and 4 June. Source A shows many aircrafts in the air, although it is able to tell whether they were the RAF or the Luftwaffe, I think it is reliable as from my own knowledge I know that the men on the beaches were under constant fire from the Luftwaffe but they still escaped under the defence of the RAF. Most of the RAF's pilots were inexperienced and had not faced combat before. By studying the source more closely, I understand that it is a contemporary painting meaning that it was painted at the time of the evacuation from Dunkirk. This adds reliability to the source. Charles Cundall who worked for the government as an artist painted the source. This may decrease the reliability of the source, as Cundall would have painted what the government wanted him to paint. The government at that time was portraying Dunkirk, as a miraculous victory so would have probably wanted the painting to seem very dramatic and heroic for propaganda purposes. I do not know if Charles Cundall was actually there at the scene. He may have taken photographs or drawn quick sketches of events and then, when he returned to Britain, started to paint the things he saw. This could be a limitation of the source as he may have recorded incorrect events. ...read more.


The source is however contemporary. Source F is a view of a British historian, A.J.P. Taylor, and shows both deliverance and disaster. Historians interpret and make conclusions based from pieces of evidence, however this is still only one person's view. The first point of deliverance is "Operation Dynamo succeed beyond all expectation." This suggests that the victory and how it came about was unexpected and, in a way, a pleasant surprise. The source also goes on to say that 860 ships took part, some of which were civilian vessels that were there to aid the rescue. This must have been a great morale booster for the troops and also could be used in a propaganda campaign. According to the source the weather was benevolent in the rescue and how Gort and his force shrank. The source though is evened out with a great deal to suggest disaster: "Almost the entire BEF was saved." This suggests that there was some of the BEF that was not saved and lost their lives. "It has lost virtually all its guns, tanks and other heavy equipment. Many of the men had abandoned their rifles. Six destroyers had been sunk and nineteen damaged. The RAF had lost 474 aeroplanes." This means that if another battle broke out concerning England it would not have the facilities, weapons or arms to fight. The original question came from this source. The source is secondary which decreases its reliability and also may be biased, as the author was British. Overall, considering the points of every source, I believe that there is sufficient evidence from sources A to F to support the interpretation that "Dunkirk was a great deliverance and a great disaster." Every source shows either deliverance, disaster or both and I feel that there is not more of one than of the other. The points are evenly balanced but I feel some sources may be unreliable. In order to make a more substantial conclusion, I feel more reliable evidence would be needed, such as statistics and eyewitness accounts. 1 Juliet Reeds History Coursework ...read more.

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