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Last Updated: Thursday, 24 August 2006, 10:33 GMT 11:33 UK
Navy 'stopped invasion by Nazis'
RAF pilots
RAF pilots are credited by some for preventing an invasion
The Royal Navy, and not the Royal Air Force, saved Britain from Nazi invasion, according to a study.

Writing in the latest issue of History Today, Brian James argued too much importance was given to the Battle of Britain in fighting the German threat.

He said it was Adolf Hitler's fear of British naval strength that prevented a Second World War invasion.

However, other historians argued this trivialised the role of RAF fighters in repelling the Germans.

Traditionally, a small band of RAF fighter pilots have been acknowledged with keeping Hitler's forces at bay.

It was their heroic actions that stirred Sir Winston Churchill to say: "Never in the field of human conflict was so much owed by so many to so few."

Mr James interviewed military historians from the Joint Services Command Staff College, who said the standard version of events was "hogwash".

The college's Dr Andrew Gordon said: "Like everyone I cheered like crazy at the film of the Battle of Britain, but it really is time to put away this enduring myth.

"To claim that Germany failed to invade in 1940 because of what was done by phenomenally brave and skilled young men of Fighter Command is hogwash.

"The Germans stayed away because while the Royal Navy existed they had not a hope in hell of capturing these islands."

Importance of air power

However, Tony Hirons, marketing director at the RAF Association, argued that control over the British skies would have been key to a German victory.

He said: "Facts don't lie, the heroics of the RAF, through the pilots of the Spitfire and Hurricane squadrons, took on and defeated the Luftwaffe invasion.

"If we had not managed to overcome the Luftwaffe, it would have cleared the skies, which would have led to a naval invasion and a land invasion.

"Whether the Army and navy would have been able to suppress that is open to conjecture.

"As far as history stands, it was the Battle of Britain that prevented subsequent invasions taking place."




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