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Air war over the nore
Defending England's North Sea Coast in World War II
By Jonathan Sutherland
The Battle of Britain and the Atlantic and the Blitz are invariably the focus of books and perceptions of the air war over and around Britain during the Second World War. Yet, it was Britain's more exposed eastern flank, from the South Foreland in the south to Bridlington in the north that faced nearly six years of unrelenting attacks by the Luftwaffe, the Kriegsmarine and, amazingly, the Corpo Aereo Italiano based in Belgium. The Italians alone launched some 150 raids on England hitting Great Yarmouth, Clacton, Harwich, Deal, Ramsgate and a host of other targets.
This book chronicles the air war around the east coast as its principle focus but also incorporate the joint operations mounted by both the Allies and the Axis forces. It looks at the preparations for invasion, the defense of vital convoys, the air defenses, the coastal blitz, ship and crew rescue and crucial docks and shipyards. With so much attention paid to the south coast, the air war over the east coast was often fought on a shoestring although it was the coast that lay closest to Germany. It was not a war of vast fleets of warships and submarines, it was conflict staged by aircraft and smaller raiding craft. It also saw the biggest mine-laying campaign in history and the largest battle fought between Axis E Boats and Allied Motor Torpedo Boats. As the tide turned in Britain's favor, the east coast became the staging post of the great bomber offensives against enemy occupied Europe and Germany itself. Yet the raiding and attacks on the east coast continued culminating in air-launched V1 attacks and finally V2 strikes.