World War II: The United Kingdom --Constiuent Parts

United Kingdom constituent parts
Figure 1.--

The Germans referred to the British as the English. The United Kingdom was, however, much more than just the English. Britain includes England, Wales, and Scotland. The United Kingdom includes other associated territoties, including Northern Ireland and several smaller territories like Manx and the Channel Islands. The great bulk the population and industrial might of the United Kingdom was in England. But put together they added to the U.K.'s potential wage war. The British Army still recruited regiments from Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland, but the Rotal Navy and RAF were a unified force. In addition there were also natural resources and even more imortabtly strategic benefits as a result of geography that aided the war effort. The territories to the north and west of England were beyond the reach of the initial Luftwaffe assult, because the short range German fighters could not escort the bombers. An early unescorted asault on Scotland by Luftflotte 5 was cut to shreads by RAF fighters (August 1940). It was the first and last unescorted daylight raid attempted. When the Germans shifted to nighttime raids, but this meant that the bombers could not hit targets of military importance, only cities. Scotland' northerly location provide important air and naval bases that the Luftwaffe could not hit in night raids. Scotland and the Islands provifed important bases for controllig the Western Approaches in the Battle of the Atlantic. Bases in England were vulnerable, but not the bases in Scotland. The most important naval base was Scappa Flow. It was secure and close enough to the Channel that the Home Fleet could oppose a Cross Channel invasion. Wales offered no important strategic bases, but Welsh coal fueld British industry throughout the war. Northern Ireland was vital in the Battle of the Atlantic. Unlike World War I, he Irish Free State denid the Royal Navy access to Irish free state. This complicated efforts of the Royal Navy and RAF Coastal Command efforts to protect the Western Approches from the German U-boats. The Irish seemed totally unware of NAZI race policies other than the actions against Jews. The NAZIs ranked Celts low on their racial order and were planning terrible actions in France after they won the war. Northern Ireland was also a staging area for the Americans when they first arrived in the United Kingdom. This freed up British troops for deployment elsewhere.

Geography

The most important British geographic feature that affected Britain in World War II was the English Channel. It stopped the Panzers and protected Britain for two years while the British Army was no match for the Whermacht and before America came into the War. In addition there were also natural resources and even more imortabtly strategic benefits as a result of geography that aided the war effort. The territories to the north and west of England were beyond the reach of the initial Luftwaffe assult, because the short range German fighters could not escort the bombers. An early unescorted asault on Scotland by Luftflotte 5 was cut to shreads by RAF fighters (August 1940). It was the first and last unescorted daylight raid attempted. When the Germans shifted to nighttime raids, but this meant that the bombers could not hit targets of military importance, only cities.

United Kingdom Components

The Germans referred to the British as the English. England was the great bulknof the British population and industrial might. The United Kingdom was, however, much more than just the English. Britain includes England, Wales, and Scotland. The United Kingdom includes other associated territoties, including Northern Ireland and several smaller territories like Manx and the Channel Islands. The great bulk of the British population and the country's industrial might of the United Kingdom was in England. But put together they added to the U.K.'s potential wage war.

England

The great bulk of the population and the country's industrial and technological might of the United Kingdom was in England. The Germans like to point out that the Reich had a much larger population and industrial base than England. This was true, but the English had a very important technological capability. Much is made of the German secret weapons, but the Reich proved incapable of producing thir weapons in war-winning quantities. Britain on hevother hand transferred its technology to America which did have the capability of manufcturing those weapons. The most important proved to be radar and specifically the cacity magnetron, sonar, and nuclear technology. British tchnology also provided the Rolls Royce Merlin engine--the beating heart of the P-51 Mustang which destroyed the Luftwaffe. English scientists also cracked the vaunted German Enigma Machine. British industry was concentrated in the nglish Midlnds north of London, east of Wales, and south of Scotland. This created a problem for the Germans because it proved hard to get at even at the peak of the Luftwaffe's power. The Luftwaffe was built as a tactical air force wihout long-range strategic bombrs. They had only lightly-armed medium bombers. Theu could reach the industrial midlands, but caried only amall bomb loads. And their fighter cover could not reach north of London. This meant only inaccurate night bombing was possible meaning the Industril Midlands cold not be effectivly targeted. And as the War developed, Britain was able to focus its industry on one objective, the Strategic Bombing Cmpaign to destroy he ability of thevGermns to make war. Andjoined by the Americans, the Reich's great industrial cities were reduced to heaps of rubble.

Sotland

Scotland' northerly location provide important air and naval bases that the Luftwaffe could not hit in night raids. Scotland and the Islands provided important bases for controllig the Western Approaches in the Battle of the Atlantic. The most important naval base was Scappa Flow. It was secure and close enough to the Channel that the Home Fleet could oppose a Cross Channel invasion. Bases in England were vulnerable, but not the bases in Scotland, although a U-boat penetrated Scappa Flow early in the War.

Wales

Wales located to the west of the English industrial midlands was the most thoruughly integrated with England of the major constituent parts of the United Kingdom. Wales offered no important strategic bases, but Welsh coal fueld British industry throughout the war. It also proved to be a major problem for the Germans. Britain became a major coal exporter (late-19th century). Most of the exported coal came from he Welsh coalfields. And Wales became the major source of coal for many European countries. Wlsh coal became a critical component of the industrial economies of Western Europe. Germany had the coalfields in the Ruhr to supply its domestic demand, but many other Western European countris did not. Thus when he Wehrmacht invaded and occupied these countries or addded adjacent neutrals (Sweden and Switzerland) to the NAZI Gro▀raum, the Germans had a major problem and when Britain rfusd to surrder, an insolvable problem. If they were going to harness the economies of these countries for their war effort they had to replace the Welsh coal. And they just did not have the coal to do so. They provided some coal to priority countries. This kept the ecomomies on life support. It was especially important to keep the Swedish economy going because this was the Reich's primary source of iron ore for steel production. And Switzerland was an importnt source of ball bearings and other critical manufctured goods. But none of the economies outside the Reich functioned anywhere near pre-War levels and many function at a freaction of their potential. And shipmnts of German coal to Finland, Sweden, and Switzerland created shortahes within the Reich itself. German was basically self-sufficnt in coal, but the War created greater demands which could not be suplied. Coal shortages were a major reason that the Germans despite controlling almost all of industrial Europe could not begin to match Allied industrial output. The Germans managed to increase war production in thecReich until the final nmonths of the War, the situation in occupied Europe was very different. And the cyring off of Welsh coal shipments was an important part of the reason.

Ulster/Northern Ireland

Northern Ireland was vital in the Battle of the Atlantic. It provided ports and air bases that was able to project out intothe all important Northern Approches. Here the convoys cibverged and i were the best location for the U-boats to attck if they could. Northern Ireland was also a staging area for the Americans when they first arrived in the United Kingdom. This freed up British troops for deployment elsewhere.

Irish Free State

The Irish Free State was still constituntional a part of the United Kingdom, but in reality essentially an independent ountry which it would become after the War. The Irish pursue a neutral policy throughout the War. Unlike World War I, the Irish Free State denied the Royal Navy access to Irish ports and the RAF basing rights. This complicated efforts of the Royal Navy and RAF Coastal Command efforts to protect the Western Approches from the German U-boats. The Irish seemed totally unware of NAZI race policies other than the actions against Jews. They The NAZIs ranked Celts low on their racil order and were planning terrible actions in France after they won the war. It was anti-British nationalist sentiment that dominated policy. Primeminister Churchill complained to President Roosevelt. Even so President Devalera wanted American Lend Lease aid. And he used Irish-Americans to try to get it. This did not work well and the Irish Free State was frozen out from Lend Lease aid during the War.

Smaller territories

The United Kingsom inscluded several smaller territories like Manx and the Channel Islands. The Channel Islands off Britainty and would be the only Bitish territory occupied by the Germans during the War. They were occupied after the fall of France (June 1940). The Germans held them until the end of the War.

Military Organization

The British Army still recruited regiments from Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland, but the Royal Navy and RAF were a unified force.







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Created: 4:20 AM 12/10/2017
Last updated: 4:20 AM 12/10/2017