By Mark Simmons The legend of 1940, “their finest hour,” has become almost considered fact in Britain. Many felt, as they saw it at the time, the Germans merely had to turn up on her shores for Britain’s defeat. Indeed, strong opinion in the United States, too, felt it was only a matter of time before Britain and her empire would fall to the jackbooted Nazis. It was often said at the time, and afterward in memoires, that “Britain had nothing.” But average citizens knew little about the real situation, only what they saw: the antics of the Civil Defence volunteers, later to become the Home Guard, “Dad’s Army” parading with broom handles. Or the newsreels depicting a defeated army plucked from the beaches of Dunkirk by the little ships. And later they witnessed the vapor trails in the skies above southern England as the RAF fighter pilots—“the few”—took on the mighty Luftwaffe, the world’s most powerful air force. Yet, on the other side of the hill, the Germans, after their stunning victory against France and much of Western Europe, were as confused in victory as the British were in defeat. For them there were many problems in taking on Britain and her empire. On June 30, 1940, Maj. Gen. Alfred Jodl, Hitler’s closest military adviser, expressed the view that final German victory was inevitable and “only a matter of time.” Yet this was a simplified view. Vice Admiral Kurt Assman of the naval staff was nearer reality when he sarcastically dismis


$2 / Month

Subscribe now for only $3.99 $2 a month!

Unlimited Website Access, Thousands of Searchable Articles, Warfare Newsletter, and more.

Back to the issue this appears in