World War II In HD Colour episode 3: In June 1940, Britain stood alone against the Nazis. Hitler was convinced that it was only a matter of days before it sued for peace. He had more troops, a better air force and the better weapons. This film shows how close Britain came to defeat, as its exhausted air force struggled to fight all the German Luftwaffe. However, because of critical errors by the Luftwaffe commander Hermann Goering, Britain was able to regroup. Then using its brilliant team of code crackers and specially trained spies, it began the fightback, working alongside the resistance movements in the occupied territories.
World War II in Colour is a 13-episode British television docuseries recounting the major events of World War II narrated by Robert Powell. It was first broadcast in 2008–2009. The series is in full colour, combining both original and colourized footage. The show covers the Western Front, Eastern Front, North African Campaign and the Pacific War. It was on syndication in the United States on the Military Channel.
World War II In HD Colour episode 3
During the Second World War, in the May 1940 Battle of France, the British Expeditionary Force (BEF), while aiding the French and Belgian armies, were forced to retreat in the face of the overpowering German Panzer attacks. Fighting in Belgium and France, the BEF and a portion of the French Army became outflanked by the Germans and retreated to the area around the port of Dunkirk. More than 400,000 soldiers were trapped in the pocket as the German Army closed in for the kill. Unexpectedly, the German Panzer attack halted for several days at a critical juncture.
For years, it was assumed that Adolf Hitler ordered the German Army to suspend the attack, favouring bombardment by the Luftwaffe. However, according to the Official War Diary of Army Group A, its commander, Generaloberst Gerd von Rundstedt, ordered the halt to allow maintenance on his tanks, half of which were out of service, and to protect his flanks which were exposed and, he thought, vulnerable. Hitler merely validated the order several hours later. This lull gave the British and French a few days to fortify their defences. The Allied position was complicated by Belgian King Leopold III’s surrender on 27 May, which was postponed until 28 May.
The gap left by the Belgian Army stretched from Ypres to Dixmude. Nevertheless, a collapse was prevented, making it possible to launch an evacuation by sea, across the English Channel, codenamed Operation Dynamo. Winston Churchill, the British Prime Minister, ordered any ship or boat available, large or small, to collect the stranded soldiers. 338,226 men (including 123,000 French soldiers) were evacuated – the miracle of Dunkirk, as Churchill called it. It took over 900 vessels to evacuate the BEF, with two-thirds of those rescued embarking via the harbour, and over 100,000 taken off the beaches. More than 40,000 vehicles as well as massive amounts of other military equipment and supplies were left behind. Forty thousand Allied soldiers (some who carried on fighting after the official evacuation) were captured or forced to make their own way home through a variety of routes including via neutral Spain. Many wounded who were unable to walk were abandoned.
The Luftwaffe was the aerial-warfare branch of the German Wehrmacht before and during World War II. Germany’s military air arms during World War I, the Luftstreitkräfte of the Imperial Army and the Marine-Fliegerabteilung of the Imperial Navy, had been disbanded in May 1920 in accordance with the terms of the 1919 Treaty of Versailles which banned Germany from having any air force.
During the interwar period, German pilots were trained secretly in violation of the treaty at Lipetsk Air Base in the Soviet Union. With the rise of the Nazi Party and the repudiation of the Versailles Treaty, the Luftwaffe’s existence was publicly acknowledged on 26 February 1935, just over two weeks before open defiance of the Versailles Treaty through German rearmament and conscription would be announced on 16 March. The Condor Legion, a Luftwaffe detachment sent to aid Nationalist forces in the Spanish Civil War, provided the force with a valuable testing ground for new tactics and aircraft. Partially as a result of this combat experience, the Luftwaffe had become one of the most sophisticated, technologically advanced, and battle-experienced air forces in the world when World War II broke out in 1939. By the summer of 1939, the Luftwaffe had twenty-eight Geschwader (wings). The Luftwaffe also operated Fallschirmjäger paratrooper units.
The Luftwaffe proved instrumental in the German victories across Poland and Western Europe in 1939 and 1940. During the Battle of Britain, however, despite inflicting severe damage to the RAF’s infrastructure and, during the subsequent Blitz, devastating many British cities, the German air force failed to batter the beleaguered British into submission. From 1942, Allied bombing campaigns gradually destroyed the Luftwaffe’s fighter arm. From late 1942, the Luftwaffe used its surplus ground support and other personnel to raise Luftwaffe Field Divisions. In addition to its service in the West, the Luftwaffe operated over the Soviet Union, North Africa and Southern Europe.
Despite its belated use of advanced turbojet and rocket-propelled aircraft for the destruction of Allied bombers, the Luftwaffe was overwhelmed by the Allies’ superior numbers and improved tactics, and a lack of trained pilots and aviation fuel. In January 1945, during the closing stages of the Battle of the Bulge, the Luftwaffe made a last-ditch effort to win air superiority, and met with failure. With rapidly dwindling supplies of petroleum, oil, and lubricants after this campaign, and as part of the entire combined Wehrmacht military forces as a whole, the Luftwaffe ceased to be an effective fighting force.