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ON THIS DAY

10 Jul 1940. Luftwaffe launches Battle of Britain. The German Air Force, the Luftwaffe, has mounted a series of attacks on shipping convoys off the south-east coast of England. It is the first major assault by the Luftwaffe and is being seen as what the Prime Minister, Winston Churchill, dubbed in a speech three weeks ago as the beginning of the “Battle of Britain”. Although heavily outnumbered, the British fighter pilots put up a fierce fight and succeeded in driving off the attackers. The Air Ministry says they inflicted “the greatest damage on the German air force since bombing raids on this country began”. In total the Air Ministry says 14 enemy aircraft were shot down and 23 more were severely damaged. (Source: BBC)

10 Jul 1943. Western Allies invade Sicily. The armed forces of Britain, the United States and Canada have landed on the Mediterranean island of Sicily. It is the first major landing of British troops on European soil since the fall of Crete two years ago. Initial resistance has been surprisingly weak against British forces with little anti-aircraft fire and no enemy naval intervention. However, the US forces faced a tougher fight on their beaches. The Times reports Allied air forces acted in close co-operation with naval and ground forces. (Source: BBC)

16 Jul 1945. Allied leaders gather at Potsdam. The leaders of the three Allied nations have gathered in the German city of Potsdam to decide the future of a defeated Germany. British Prime Minister Winston Churchill, US President Harry S Truman and leader of the Soviet Union Josef Stalin, accompanied by senior ministers and military staff, are conducting a systematic review of the political and economic situation in Europe. The main aims of the conference are:
To establish the future control of Germany.
To decide how to disable certain industries in Germany so that the country cannot rise up against its neighbours again.
To ensure delivery of food and raw materials to a liberated Europe ravaged by war and in danger of famine.
Adequate shipping is desperately need to bring in supplies, but allied ships are currently in demand in the Pacific region where fighting is continuing. The war in the Pacific will certainly be high on the agenda. Earlier this year the Soviet Union broke is treaty of friendship with Japan and the Japanese are hoping the USSR will not get involved in the war in the Far East. In the last few days US battleships and swarms of planes have been bombarding Japan’s industrial cities. The Japanese, crippled by defeats on islands off the Philippines last October, have been slow to respond and even the infamous suicide aircraft have been conspicuous by their absence.

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