History of the Second World War: United Kingdom Military Series

Edited by J. R. M. Butler

The Defence of the United Kingdom

By Basil Collier




The authors of the Military Histories have been given full access to official documents. They and the editor are alone responsible for the statements made and the views expressed.

Table of Contents


Chapter 1: Retrenchment and Air Defence, 1918–1932

Chapter 2: Disarmament and Rearmament, 1930–1938

Chapter 3: Maritime Defence, 1918–1939

Chapter 4: The Eve of War, 1938–1939

Chapter 5: The Opening Phase, September 1939–May 1940

Chapter 6: Norway to Dunkirk, April–May 1940

Chapter 7: The Stocktaking, May 1940

Chapter 8: After Dunkirk, June–August 1940

Chapter 9: The Battle of Britain: The Prelude, June–July 1940

Chapter 10: The Battle of Britain: The Preliminary Phase, July–August 1940

Chapter 11: Operation SEALION, July–September 1940

Chapter 12: The Battle of Britain: The First Phase, 13th–23rd August 1940

Chapter 13: The Battle of Britain: The Second Phase, 24th August–6th September 1940

Chapter 14: The Invasion Risk: The Crisis and After, September 1940–June 1941

Chapter 15: The Battle of Britain: The Last Phase, 7th September–31st October 1940

Chapter 16: The Night Offensive Against London, 7th September–13th November 1940

Chapter 17: The Night Offensive Against British Industry and Communications, 14th November 1940–16th May 1941; Summary 7th September 1940–16th May 1941

Chapter 18: Blockade: Part One, October 1940–June 1941

Chapter 19: Blockade: Part Two, June 1941–October 1943

Chapter 20: The Dwindling Threat, The German Air Offensive 1942–1943

Chapter 21: The Watch on the Base, 1943–1944

Chapter 22: The Threat from Long-Range Weapons, 1939–1944

Chapter 23: The Flying Bomb: Part One, 1939–1944

Chapter 24: The Flying Bomb: Part Two, 1944–1945

Chapter 25: The Long-Range Rocket, 1944–1945

Chapter 26: A Summing-Up

Appendix 1: British Naval Forces in Home Waters, 31st August 1939

Appendix 2: Equipment and Location of Coastal Command Squadrons, 31st August 1939

Appendix 3: Home Defences: Chain of Command, September 1939

Appendix 4: British Capital Ships, 1st June 1940

Appendix 5: British Naval Forces in Home Waters, 1st July 1940

Appendix 6: Organisation of the Air Defences, Summer 1940 441

Appendix 7: Equipment and Location of British Fighter Squadrons, 9th July 1940

Appendix 8: Equipment and Location of Balloon Squadrons, 31st July 1940

Appendix 9: Disposition of Anti-Aircraft Guns, 11th July 1940

Appendix 10: The Battle of Britain: the Preliminary Phase (Summary of Operations)

Appendix 11: Strength and Serviceability of Luftwaffe Units deployed for use against the United Kingdom, 10th August 1940

Appendix 12: Equipment and Location of British Fighter Squadrons, 8th August 1940

Appendix 13: The Battle of Britain: the First Phase (Summary of Operations)

Appendix 14: The Battle of Britain: the Second Phase (Summary of Operations)

Appendix 15: Night Attacks on Liverpool–Birkenhead, 28th–31st August 1940: German Statistics

Appendix 16: Coaching Mileage of the Four Main British Railway Companies, June–September 1940

Appendix 17: Equipment, Strength, Serviceability and Location of Luftwaffe Units deployed for use against the United Kingdom, 7th September 1940

Appendix 18: Equipment and Location of Squadrons Available in Nos. 16 and 18 Groups, Coastal Command, for Anti-Invasion Duties, 26th September 1940

Appendix 19: Fixed Artillery Defences of Home Ports, November 1940

Appendix 20: Equipment and Location of British Fighter Squadrons, 7th September 1940

Appendix 21: Equipment and Location of Balloon Squadrons, 31st August 1940

Appendix 22: Disposition of Anti-Aircraft Guns, 21st August and 11th September 1940

Appendix 23: Some Problems and Achievements of Anti-Aircraft Gunnery during the Battle of Britain

Appendix 24: The Battle of Britain: the last Phase (Summary of Operations)

Appendix 25: Numbers of Pilots and other Aircrew who lost their Lives in Battle during the Battle of Britain, 10th July–31st October 1940

Appendix 26: Night Attacks on London, 7th September–13th November 1940: German Statistics

Appendix 27: Night Attacks on London: British Statistics showing Numbers of Bombs on London Boroughs from the Night of 7th October to the Night of 6th November 1940

Appendix 28: Summary of Operations against the United Kingdom by the Italian Air Force, October 1940–April 1941

Appendix 29: Equipment and Location of British Night-Fighter Squadrons, September–November, 1940

Appendix 30: Notable Night Attacks on United Kingdom Cities, 14th November 1940–16th May 1941

Appendix 31: Tons of High-Explosive aimed at United Kingdom Cities in Major Night Attacks from the Night of 7th September 1940, to the Night of 16th May 1941

Appendix 32: Night Attacks on London: Numbers of High-Explosive Bombs to the Hundred Acres on some of the most heavily-bombed Boroughs

Appendix 33: Equipment and Location of British Night-Fighter Squadrons, November 1940–May 1941

Appendix 34: Analysis of British Night-Fighter Effort, January–May 1941

Appendix 35: The Air War against British Coastal Shipping, November 1940–December 1941

Appendix 36: The Führer’s Order for the ‘Baedeker’ Offensive

Appendix 37: Principal German Night Attacks 1942

Appendix 38: Principal German Night Attacks 1943

Appendix 39: Notable Day Attacks by German Fighter-Bombers 1943

Appendix 40: Angriffsführer England: Units under Command, 30th April 1943

Appendix 41: Angriffsführer England: Operational Bomber and Fighter-Bomber Units under Command, 20th January 1944

Appendix 42: The ‘Baby Blitz’

Appendix 43: The A-4 Rocket: Technical Details

Appendix 44: Summary of Anglo-American Air Effort against suspected Flying-Bomb and Rocket Installations in Northern France, ‘5th December 1943–12th June 1944

Appendix 45: The Flying-Bomb Offensive

Appendix 46: Analysis of Anglo-American Air Effort against suspected Flying-Bomb and Rocket Targets, 17th August 1943–1st September 1944

Appendix 47: Boroughs or Districts in London Civil Defence Region reporting Thirty or more Flying-Bomb ‘Incidents’

Appendix 48: Counties outside the London Civil Defence Region reporting Ten or more Flying-Bomb ‘Incidents’

Appendix 49: The Long-Range Rocket Offensive

Appendix 50: Civilian Casualties caused by Bombing and by Various other Forms of Long-Range Bombardment


References to Unpublished Documents


1. The Steel-Bartholomew Plan of Air Defence (1923)

2. The Fifty-Two Squadron Scheme of Air Defence (1924)

3. The Reorientation Scheme of Air Defence (1935)

4. Organisation for Maritime Defence 1939

5. Disposition of Home Forces, 1st May 1940

6. Disposition of Eastern Command and G.H.Q,. Reserves, 31st May 1940

7. G.H.Q. Line covering the principal Production Centres, June–July 1940

8. Coastal Command Anti-Invasion Patrols, 16th July 1940

9. Organisation for Home Defence, Summer 1940

10. The Radar Chain and Observer Corps Network, July 1940

11. Organisation of Luftwaffe Commands for the Battle of Britain, Summer 1940

12. Disposition of British Fighter Forces, 9th July 1940

13. The Revised SEALION Plan, September 1940

14. Action on the Morning of 13th August 1940

15. Action on the Afternoon of 13th August 1940

16. Actions of the Tyne-Tees and the Humber, 15th August 1940

17. Disposition of Home Forces, 11th September 1940

18. Photographic Reproduction of German Intelligence Map showing supposed Disposition of Home Forces, 20th September 1940

19. Coastal Command Anti-Invasion Patrols, 26th September 1940

20. Disposition of Home Forces, May 1941

21. Coastal Command Scheme of Anti-Shipping and General Reconnaissance Patrols, 20th December 1940

22. Disposition of British Fighter Forces airborne at 5 p.m., 7th September 1940

23. Disposition of British Fighter Forces airborne at 11.30 a.m., 15th September 1940

24. Fighter Command Groups and Sectors, Spring 1941

25. The Bombing of London, Night of 29th December 1940

26. Distribution of Major Night Attacks on British Cities (1940–1941)

27. Disposition of Home Forces, Spring 1942

28. The Bombing of Exeter, Night of 3rd May 1942

29. The V-1 Organisation, June–September 1944

30. Proposed V-2 Organisation, June 1944

31. V-2 Launching Areas used for the Bombardment of the United Kingdom, September 1944–March 1945

32. General Map of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland


(Imperial War Museum)

1. Air attack on British Warships in the Firth of Forth, 16th October 1939

2. Preparing to fire a 3.7-inch Mark II Anti-Aircraft Gun (Static Mounting)

3. Beach Defences on the Coast of Kent: a Concealed Machine-Gun Point at Dymchurch

4. Coast Defence Gunners preparing to fire a Practice Round from a 9.2-inch Gun

5. Obstructions to prevent the landing of Gliders or Troop-Carrying Aircraft on a Bypass Road in Surrey

6. A Camouflaged Strong Point in Northern Command

7. Hudson Aircraft of Coastal Command on Patrol over the North Sea

8. Destroyers on Patrol off the East Coast

9. General Sir Edmund Ironside, General Officer Commanding-in-Chief, Home Forces, May-July 1940

10. General Sir Alan Brooke, General Officer Commanding-in-Chief, Home Forces, July 1940-December 1941

11. Spitfires of a Fighter Command Squadron

12. Air attack on a British Convoy in the English Channel, 14th July 1940

13. Air Chief Marshal Sir Hugh Dowding, Air Officer Commanding-in-Chief, Fighter Command 1936–1940

14. Air Vice-Marshal K. R. Park, Air Officer Commanding. No. 11 Group, Fighter Command, April–December 1940

15. An Observer Corps (later Royal Observer Corps) Post at Work

16. A Barrage-Balloon Close-Hauled

17. German Bombers above the Thames near Woolwich, 7th September 1940

18. Polish Pilots of Fighter Command at Readiness in their Dispersal Hut

19. A 25-pounder Field Gun in Action during a Practice Shoot

20. An Anti-Aircraft Rocket Projector in Action (3-inch U.P. Single Projector)

21. The City of London on the morrow of 29th December 1940

22. The Guildhall, York, during the ‘Baedeker’ Raid on the night of 28th April 1942

23. Air Marshal R. M. (later Sir Roderic) Hill, Air Marshal Commanding, Air Defence of Great Britain 1943–1944, and Air Officer Commanding-in-Chief, Fighter Command 1944–1945

24. Lieutenant-General (later General) Sir Frederick Pile, Bt., General Officer Commanding-in-Chief, Anti-Aircraft Command 1939–1945

25. German Flying Bomb immediately after Launching

26. German Long-Range Rocket A-4 in process of elevation to Firing Position

27. German Flying Bomb about to descend near Drury Lane in London

28. German Flying Bomb engaged and brought down at Night by Anti-Aircraft Fire

29. German Flying Bomb Storage Depot at Saint-Leu-d’Esserent

Reproduction of Bilingual Notice prepared by the Germans for use after Invasion of this Country