Continuing his examination of the events of the Spitfire Summer, in The Breaking Storm Dilip provides a day-by-day chronicle of the Battle of Britain’s first phase – the so-called Kanalkampf – which was fought over the Channel-bound convoys between 10 July and 12 August 1940. This account, though, does not simply concern RAF Fighter Command, as the author recognizes the operations and efforts of the RAF’s Bomber and Coastal commands, the Royal Navy and mercantile marine – making this book part of what he calls ‘the Big story’.
Hitler’s actual policies and intentions towards the ongoing war with Britain are also explored. If the Battle of Britain was fought to deny Germany the aerial superiority required to launch a seaborne invasion of southern England, then, the author argues, the conflict could surely only have begun when the Germans committed to Operation Seelöwe – which was not, in fact, until 21 July 1940. It has previously been accepted that Hitler’s War Directive of 16 July 1940 signaled the intention to invade, but the author proves that this was no more than another example of the ‘brinkmanship’ that Hitler was renowned for, and the air attacks at that time little more than ‘Air Fleet Diplomacy’, all of which was intended to frighten Britain into accepting the Führer’s ‘last appeal to reason’ of 19 July 1940.
In his broadcast of 22 July 1940, Lord Halifax made the nation’s unbowed position quite clear. He called Hitler’s bluff: previously reluctant to fight Britain, Hitler’s preferred policy in the ongoing war had been blockade and diplomacy – but now he had no choice but to unleash the Luftwaffe against Britain. All of this is investigated in detail, aligning these wider events and high decisions with action in the air.
Through diligent research, combined with crucial official primary sources and personal papers, Dilip unravels many myths, often challenging the accepted narrative. This is not simply another dull record of combat losses and claims – far from it. Drawing upon unique first-hand accounts from a wide-range of combatants and eyewitnesses, along with Daily Home Intelligence Reports and numerous other primary sources, this book forms part of what is likely to be the first and last such comprehensively woven account of this epic air battle.