By June 18, 1940 Hitler’s forces had overrun much of France and pushed England’s forces off the European continent. On June 20 the New York Times reported…
Defended by her mighty fleet and with the largest force of trained and experienced troops in her history concentrated in this island, Great Britain tonight hastened preparations to withstand a siege or repel an invasion
Britain’s Prime Minister Winston Churchill said “The Battle of France is over, the Battle of Britain is about to begin”
And begin it did. In what was to be the prelude to a Nazi invasion of England, the mighty Nazi Luftwaffe sent wave after wave of fighters and bombers across the English Channel to bomb British military targets.
In late August a few German bombers strayed from their targets and dropped bombs on civilian areas of London. The British retaliated the next night with a bombing raid on Berlin which killed less than a dozen civilians. The raid enraged Hitler who ordered what amounted to terror night and bombings of English civilians.
The irony of Hitler’s revenge was that the bombings of London and other civilian targets meant fewer attacks on RAF (Royal Air Force) targets. That helped get the RAF back “on its feet” and into the air to ultimately defeat the Nazis in the Battle of Britain. Hitler’s invasion of England was never to be.
The London Blitz began with 76 consecutive nights of bombings. The entire “Blitz” lasted from early September 1940 until mid-May 1941. During the Blitz more than 20,000 London civilians were killed and more than 40,000 total English civilians died.
It should be noted that all the major powers “terror” bombed civilians during World War II
New York Times Archives
Battle of Britain Historic Site