Two failed attacks were launched on this day with historical significance – the German air assault in the Battle of Britain and France’s bombing of Greenpeace’s Rainbow Warrior.
The Battle of Britain Begins
With the fall of France in June, Hitler turned his attention to Great Britain and began an aerial assault on the nation’s shipping, military targets and ultimately its cities in order to gain the air superiority needed for an invasion. It was the first major air battle in history and remains one of the most devastating and important since it gave Hitler his first defeat. By holding off the Germans in the air, Hitler was forced to abandon plans for an October invasion and instead turned his attention east towards the Soviet Union.
From July 10 – October 31st, the Germans lost 1,977 aircraft and 2,585 airmen were killed and another 925 were captured. While the British lost 1,744 aircraft and 1,542 airmen and crew. This does not include the approximately 40,000 British civilians killed by the Blitz.
Prime Minister Winston Churchill, speaking of the British pilots in an August speech, said, “Never in the field of human conflict was so much owed by so many to so few.
Bombing of Rainbow Warrior
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Greenpeace’s flagship vessel, the Rainbow Warrior, was sunk by two explosions while it sat in Auckland, New Zealand’s harbor, killing a photographer who drowned. The Rainbow Warrior had planned to protest French nuclear testing in Moruroa. The French government ultimately acknowledged responsibility and paid over $8 million to Greenpeace and the photographer’s family.
Today is Tesla Day commemorating the birth of Nikola Tesla in Smiljan (which is now part of Croatia).