Did the Battle of Britain begin over Orkney?

July 11th, 2010 - 12:55 pm ICT by ANI  

London, July 11 (ANI): The Battle of Britain began over Orkney Islands, an archipelago in northern Scotland, and not over the white cliffs of Dover, according to a Scottish historian.

Les Taylor, the author of Luftwaffe Over Scotland, claims a three-day attack in April 1940, when the German Luftwaffe targeted UK’s Royal Navy shipping off Orkney and in Scapa Flow, was the true beginning of the famous battle.

It was during the Battle of Orkney that Germany’s Air Force first tried to dominate British skies and it was the first time the RAF used radar to direct fighters to specific points to intercept enemy planes.

“The air battle over Orkney was a dress rehearsal for the Battle of Britain,” The Scotsman quoted Taylor, as saying.

Taylor, who spent a decade researching his book documenting every German attack on Scots soil during the Second World War, added: “Most historians are based in England and that does tend to lead to a blinkered attitude. I expected to get a lot of flak by claiming that the Battle of Britain could be said to have started over Orkney, but I am standing my ground on it.”

The Battle of Britain officially began on July 10, 1940, when the Luftwaffe launched a concerted attempt to destroy Britain’s air defences in a bid to allow Hitler to launch Operation Sealion, the amphibious and airborne invasion of Britain.

Commenting on Taylor’s version of the historic battle, Wing Commander “Tinny” Tinworth said: “You could argue that it started earlier and you could argue that it ended later, but those are the dates set by historians in the past, therefore that is what we are sitting with.”

James Holland, the author of bestseller The Battle of Britain, said: “I don’t completely disagree with him. It depends on what you call ‘the Battle of Britain’. When the commander-in-chief of Fighter Command wrote his dispatch he said he was ‘rather arbitrary’ in choosing the date of 10 July, as that was the first time a large raid of over 70 aircraft came over England.

“I’m not disagreeing with what Mr Taylor is saying about April in Orkney. The only argument against it is that Britain’s sovereignty wasn’t threatened at any stage in April 1940.

“I am open to the argument. The Battle of Britain date of 10 July is arbitrary and on that I agree with him.” (ANI)

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