It was called Operation Sea Lion by the Nazis (Unternehmen Seelöwe), and it was Hitler’s plan to invade Britain in the early days of World War II. Launched in 1940, it marked the height of Hitler’s ruthless rampage across Europe. Country after country had fallen to the Germans. By May, France was being crushed, and the English troops were taking a beating at Dunkirk.
Hitler assumed Britain would now surrender. He was wrong. His proposal of peace negotiations (which included absolute air and naval rule of the English Channel) were met with one of Winston Churchill’s many famous quotes: “If this long island story of ours is to end at last, let it end only when each one of us lies choking in his own blood upon the ground.”
What followed was a summer of bombings and blackouts — the Battle of Britain, one of the most iconic eras of the war, when the German Luftwaffe would execute its nightly raids across the Channel, blowing the hell out of England’s military and manufacturing hubs.
While it would be two years before Hitler would officially call the invasion quits, in fact, by September 1940, the writing was on the wall. Wikipedia notes that “with air losses increasing, Hitler postponed Sea Lion indefinitely on 17 September 1940 and it was never put into action.”
“We shall never surrender” In 2017’s Darkest Hour, Prime Minister Winston Churchill (an Oscar-winning performance by Gary Oldman) rallies Parliament — and the British people — with what would become the most famous war speech of all time. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=skrdyoabmgA (4 min, 55 sec)
“You prisoner of war” If you watch only one war movie in your life, make it Hope and Glory. This brilliant, funny, very touching film follows an average London family trying to survive “the battle at home” during the Blitz. This particular scene catches the family mid-air raid, during which a lone German pilot lands in the middle of the street. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hLJKIsCtkic (3 min, 17 sec)
What’s happened to William? William Beech is a main character in the movie Goodnight Mr. Tom. This wonderful film tells the story of a young evacuee from the east end of London who lands on the doorstep of a crusty curmudgeon in a country village. When the young lad is called back to the city by his mother, and then isn’t heard from, ‘Mr. Tom’ (played by the wonderful late John Thaw) goes looking for him. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fyI_7mqe9fk (2 min, 14 sec)