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Battle of Britain

The Battle of Britain was an air-based attack on Britain by German Air Force (Luftwaffe) with the intentions of subduing Britain’s Royal Air Force (RAF). The duration of this German campaign was from the summer to the autumn of 1940. The name of ‘The Battle of Britain’ is derived from Winston Churchill’s infamous speech, “The Finest Hour”, when he stated (primary source), “The Battle of France is over. The Battle of Britain is about to begin, upon this battle depends the survival of Christian civilization, upon it depends our own British life and the long continuity of our institution and our Empire.” However, this battle is commonly referred to “The Few” by pilots, which there were approximately 2,936 engaged in this battle. Most notably, this battle was the only battle fought exclusively in the air.

Expanding off of the main objective of the Luftwaffe, the Germans sought it necessary to subdue the RAF because that was the compelling force that was preventing the Germans from successfully making the channel crossing into Great Britain and landing 160,000 German troops. Therefore, German forces assembled 2,600 aircraft for the battle, which outnumbered the RAF by four-to-one. Additionally, German pilots also had a superior aircraft, the Messerschmitt BF109. Finally, the battle came to an end when Hitler ordered his attacks to be targeted at the British airfields, one of his ‘blitz’ tactics. In total, the RAF lost 792 aircrafts, and the Luftwaffe 1,389. Approximately 544 men during the battle, and 791 after the battle, were reported to have lost their lives as well.


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The Messerschmitt BF109


Pearl Harbor

Pearl Harbor was a naval harbor located in beautiful, tropic Hawaii. However on Sunday December 7th, 1941, the harbor had an anything but marvelously tropic appearance; Japanese warplanes swooped in, obliterated the U.S. Pacific aircraft carriers, and devastated U.S. forces. This occurrence was noted as the final compelling force that drove the U.S. to officially join the war and become a power of the Allied forces.
The U.S.’s frigates still remain in the depths of the historic harbor to this day and have become a popular tourist destination; however, the most significant aspect of this occasion would be the thousands of lives lost in this battle and it being the final straw for Americans pertaining to the war situation. President Roosevelt’s speech on Pearl Harbor did a bang-up job on summarizing the distressing event, “The attack yesterday on the Hawaiian islands has caused severe damage to American naval and military forces. Very many American lives have been lost. In addition, American ships have been reported torpedoed on the high seas between San Francisco and Honolulu.”
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Pearl Harbor in the midst of attack


Hiroshima
Hiroshima is a Japanese city located on the island of Honshu. During WWII, Hiroshima was home to about 300,000 civilians and approximately 43,000 soldiers, who were stationed at a Hiroshima military center. On August 6, 1945, America launched a B-29 bomber containing the newly developed and incomprehensibly destructive 9,700 pound uranium bomb, nick named “Little Boy”. The B-29 bomber was titled the ‘Enola Gay’, who was the mother of the pilot, Colonel Paul Tibbets. It took a mere 43 seconds from deploying the bomb from the plane for it to travel 1,900 feet below to Hiroshima, annihilating the city in the infamous ‘mushroom cloud’. Colonel Paul Tibbets commented, “The city was hidden by that awful cloud . . . boiling up, mushrooming, terrible and incredibly tall.”
This devastating bomb was measured to have the power of the equivalency of 15,000 tons of TNT. The bomb literally turned those in its wake into dust; people described it as a blast of a light bulb and a gigantic wave of heat; destruction was ubiquitous. Furthermore, the radiation that followed a few days to weeks after the bomb proved to be as destructive as the initial blast. The bomb has been noted as one of the most vicious attacks in history; about 70,000 people died from the initial blast, however the post-blast effects were much worse, the death toll having been documented to have exceeded 200,000.


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"Little Boy"

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Map of the damage radius in Hiroshima

D-Day
D-Day also referred to as ‘Operation Neptune’ or ‘Operation Overlord’ which was an operation executed by America and Britain, with hopes of gaining necessary European ground, striking against their Germany nemeses. D-Day took place on Tuesday June 6, 1944 and involved two phases of attack: one attack would be an air assault, whilst the other would be an amphibious landing on the beaches. This historic attack was deemed the largest amphibious attack, with 175,000 troops landing in Normandy.

Essentially, D-Day was a significant morale booster for both the soldiers on the forefront, and those at home supporting them. The U.S. also achieved their goals of gaining European ground, and was then able to pursue forward in their conquest. The Germans suffered a blow from this battle; they were forced to retreat further and further. President Eisenhower put it best in his speech when he stated, “Your task will not be an easy one. Your enemy is well trained, well equipped and battle hardened. He will fight savagely.”

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D-Day on the Beach


Bibliography:
1) "World War 2 Timeline." 2worldwar2.com. Web. 1 Mar. 2010. <http://www.2worldwar2.com/timeline.htm>.
2) Battle of Britain Historical Society. "The Battle of Britain: 1940." Battleofbritain1940.net. Battle of Britain Historical Society, 2007. Web. 1 Mar. 2010. <http://www.battleofbritain1940.net/contents-index.html>.
3) Unknown. Messerschmitt BF109. Digital image. Militaryimages.net. 1966. Web. 1 Mar. 2010. <http://www.militaryimages.net/photopost/showphoto.php/photo/8212.>.
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10) Neson, Lynn H. "General Dwight D. Eisenhower (Ike) D-Day Message." Kansasheritage.org. Kansas History Gateway, 22 Oct. 2005. Web. 1 Mar. 2010. <http://www.kansasheritage.org/abilene/ikespeech.html>.
11) Jenkins, Tony. D-Day on the Beach. Digital image. Rotary-sidcup.org. Rotary Club of Sidcup. Web. 1 Mar. 2010. <http://www.rotary-sidcup.org/d-day.php>.