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Battle of Britain: The Real Story (2010) HD online

Battle of Britain: The Real Story (2010) HD online
Language: English
Category: Movie / Documentary
Original Title: Battle of Britain: The Real Story
Director: Aaron Young
Writers: James Holland
Released: 2010
Duration: 59min
Video type: Movie
A historical re-examination of Britain's Finest Hour and its actual nature.
Credited cast:
James Holland James Holland - Himself - Presenter
Peter Caddick-Adams Peter Caddick-Adams - Himself - Military Historian (as Dr. Peter Caddick-Adams)
Hilda Muller Hilda Muller - Herself - Factory Worker, Berlin
Steve Prince Steve Prince - Himself - Head, RN Historical Branch
Hajo Hermann Hajo Hermann - Himself - Bomber Pilot, KG4
Harry Bennett Harry Bennett - Himself - University of Plymouth (as Dr. Harry Bennett)
Joyce Reeves Joyce Reeves - Herself - Munitions Worker, Gosport
Hans-Ekkehard Bob Hans-Ekkehard Bob - Himself - Fighter Pilot, JG54
Billy Drake Billy Drake - Himself - Fighter Pilot, 1 Squadron
Thomas Neil Thomas Neil - Himself - Fighter Pilot, 249 Squadron (as Tom Neil)
Sebastian Cox Sebastian Cox - Himself - Head, RAF Historical Branch
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
James McNicholas James McNicholas - German Soldier (voice)

Reviews: [3]

  • avatar


    I love documentaries--particularly about history. However, I don't love EVERY documentary. Too often, these films simply recapitulate everything said in previous documentaries and offer nothing new...nothing. However, when I do see a film that offers a new insight into a super-familiar subject I am excited--and among the billions of WWII documentaries, "Battle of Britain: The Real Story" is among the best.

    This show takes a different view when discussing the Battle of Britain. Conventional wisdom is that the British were grossly outclassed by the much more able Germans and yet the Germans (perhaps due to intervention by God) somehow lost a battle that they SHOULD have won. Well, James Holland would NOT agree with this view and offers his own view that in many ways the British were NOT helpless and outclassed and survived due to a miracle. Instead, he picks out many ways in which the Brits were at an advantage and many ways in which the Nazis were woefully unready for such a war. Such thinking is radical yet compelling because Holland backs it up with a compelling argument.

    All in all, an immensely interesting and novel re-imagining of the Battle of Britain--and a show that manages to give us new insight into the old.
  • avatar

    fire dancer

    James Holland looks at the whole picture on both sides of the Battle of Britain, showing that it wasn't just one thing that tipped the balance in Britain's favor during Germany's campaign to knock Britain out of World War II. This was an eye-opener to me. It was neither just the courage of British fighter pilots nor the radar technology of the British. No, it was British coordination of all their technologies into a highly sophisticated defense system.

    The German navy wanted to cripple Britain, but the British had the better navy, and the Germans had shockingly few submarines at this point--only 14!--not enough to do irreparable damage to British shipping.

    While the Meserschmidt 109E was a superior plane to the British Spitfires and Hurricanes, Germany's air marshal, Hermann Goering, ordered the 109Es to fly slowly along side the German bombers, thereby squandering their tactical advantages of speed and maneuverability.

    Holland points out that German engineers had come up with better designed radar devices just as they had come up with better planes and boats. In their search for quality, however, the Germans allowed themselves to fall behind British quantity and systematic application. The British combined the factory production of numerous planes with efficient deployment of pilots, better organization and--above all--coordination of the information collected by their radar and human observers. The British had the best integrated defense intelligence system in the world at the time while the Germans had nothing like it.

    Add to this that the German's underestimated British strength while the British overestimated German strength. Overestimating your attacker just puts you more on your toes, while underestimating the one you are attacking makes you cocky. As Holland concludes, the German's added bad planning and amateurish strategy to their cockiness.

    In the end, the Germans were unable to achieve their goal of disabling the Royal Air Force and controlling the skies over Britain. This was as much due to their failure as it was to the considerable efforts and achievements of the defending Brits.
  • avatar


    I'm afraid this review belongs to another program in the series, "The Lost Evidence: The Battle of Britain." But that particular program is unavailable at the moment in Yet is provides a perspective that's somewhat different from the usual, so I'm taking the liberty of posting a review here.

    A briefer course on the history of the Battle of Britain, the chief contours of which are by now widely known. By 1940 Hitler had conquered most of the European continent, leaving Britain on her own. Hitler made several peace offers. Germany could rule the land, while Britain ruled the seas, but Churchill was prescient enough to realize that the British Navy was likely to become no more than Hitler's Navy. So Hitler made plans to invade Britain.

    The air battles over France were, oddly enough, unanticipated by the Allies, as was the speed of the Blitzkrieg. The Luftwaffe pilots, experienced in combat during the Spanish Civil War, outclassed and outfought the Allies fighters at every turn, British Hurricans included. The film makes no mention of any other Allied fighters in France who bore the brunt of the fighter attacks. You will not hear the words Bouton Paul Defiant mentioned, let alone any French fighters, some of them pretty good. Nothing about the RAF abandoning their attractive V formations and adopting the far more effect four-finger pattern of the Luftwaffe. The film also attributes the victory in the Battle of Britain to Churchill and the resolve of the English citizens. No mention of increased support from North America, but only after Churchill had shown his willingness to fight by almost sinking most of the French fleet in its harbor at Oran, killing thousands of French sailors and engendering an ambivalent attitude among all the French. But then the entire film is tilted in the direction of the Allies. At this remove, propaganda always strikes me as almost offensive. We already know who was good and who was bad.

    The Germans had plenty of reconnaissance photos of British facilities -- factories, airfields, and the like. They had photos of the radar defense towers along the southern coast too but failed to understand their significance, (The Japanese Navy were superb at night fighting but faced with same problem with radar, partially making up for it by highly trained lookouts and superior optics.) The Luftwaffe first attacked shipping in the English channel, sending a horde of fighters to cover the "infamous" Stuky Ju-87s, but were frustrated when the Briitish Hurricanes and Spitfires ignored the German fighter lure and instead attacked the lumbering, practically unarmed Stukas -- easy prey. Yet the losses on both sides, in airplanes and crew, were appalling. The losses couldn't be sustained by either side. So the Germans switched tactics and began to pummel British fighters on their air bases. The problem here was that the Brits, as so often, were magnificent at deception. They disguised many of their fields simply by criss-crossing them with lines of black sand that looked like hedge rows in recon photos.

    A brief sketch of the battle shows German Intelligence misinterpreting the aerial recon photos and thereby committing several blunders. They gave up trying to destroy the radar warning system and began bombing RAF bases. This was effective, if costly for the Germans. But then, because of an accident, Goering switched to bombing first the docks and fuel storage tanks on the river, and then the city of London itself. I visited London in 1959 and there were still blocks of nothing but charred ruins along the Thames.

    It was an exhausting and expensive battle on both sides. The German airplanes outnumbered the RAF fighters, whose numbers were underestimated by the Luftwaffe, but many of the German airplanes were relatively slow and underarmed. The RAF wisely left the bombers to the less speedy Hurricanes while the lesser numbers of Spitfires handled the Me-109s. No mention is made of the fact that the Germans were engaged over hostile territory and a bail out or crash landing meant one less Luftwaffe pilot. And nothing is said about the disadvantage under which the Messerschmidt's fought. They could carry only enough fuel for some twenty minutes over England before they were forced to turn back and leave the Dorniers and Heinkels to carry on without fighter escort. The USAAF faced the same problem in the first years of the bombing campaign against Germany.

    No disrespect is meant towards individual combatants on either side. War is a terrible business and, like a lethal disease, it's cause is unknown.