“Do your worst …and we will do our best”

The end of the most intense period of the Blitz in June 1941 provided an opportunity for restoring essential services. In many bombed out residential areas there was no rebuilding, just the removal of debris.

In a speech in Parliament that became known as ‘ Do your worst … and we will do our best’ Winston Churchill paid tribute all who had served in the defence of Britain during the blitz:

Water was cut off, railways were cut or broken, large districts were destroyed, thousands were killed, and many more thousands were wounded. But there was one thing about which there was never any doubt.

The courage, the unconquerable grit and stamina of our people, showed itself from the very outset. Without that all would have failed. Upon that rock, all stood unshakable.

All the public services were carried on, and all the intricate arrangements, far-reaching details, involving the daily lives of so many millions, were carried out, improvised, elaborated, and perfected in the very teeth of the cruel and devastating storm.

He went on to warn that the bombing raids on Britain were far from over. As the RAF bombing offensive gathered pace they could expect retaliatory measures:

It is time that the enemy should be made to suffer in their own homelands something of the torment they have let loose upon their neighbours and upon the world. We believe it to be in our power to keep this process going, on a steadily rising tide, month after month, year after year, until they are either extirpated by us or, better still, torn to pieces by their own people.

We do not expect to hit without being hit back, and we intend with every week that passes to hit harder. Prepare yourselves, then, my friends and comrades, for this renewal of your exertions. We shall never turn from our purpose, however sombre the road, however grievous the cost, because we know that out of this time of trial and tribulation will be born a new freedom and glory for all mankind.

On the very same day Hitler was issuing his Directive No. 32. He had a growing confidence that Russia would soon be defeated and he could therefore afford to redirect resources back to the Luftwaffe, so that he could continue the war against England.

Our military mastery of the European continent after the overthrow of Russia will make it possible considerably to reduce the strength of the Army. Within the limits of this reduced Army, the relative strength of the armoured forces will be greatly increased.

The manning and equipment of the Navy will be limited to what is essential for the direct prosecution of the war against England and, should the occasion arise, against America.

The main effort of equipment will be devoted to the Airforce, which will be greatly strengthened.

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