On an Impending Invasion

You probably know that during the war, England was under threat of immediate invasion for many months. And being an island country, England had a lot of coast line to defend.

Where would the enemy strike? The obvious place would of course be across the English Channel, the shortest spot across from Europe. The enemy landing troops in the south eastern corner would begin marching north and west, attacking the capital, and fighting its way inland.

So the king and his advisers and the government set up a system of early warning systems to let everyone know if any amphibious attack was pending. Meanwhile, the army could not ignore the possibility that an attack might come from any side, really.

There were even rumblings that the enemy might even attack from the west, the Ireland side of the island. That posed an entirely different and other threat. So the army made preparations to strengthen a fairly spread out defensive perimeter as far along the coasts as possible.

Luckily for England, the island is difficult to attack. It had been so many years since any enemy had successfully subdued the place. Even as far back as the Romans, conquering Britain was considered to be an amazing military accomplishment. The English Channel is notorious for rough weather and dangerous seas. It has always been a dictum that the true first line of defense for the land was the sea itself.

Once any potential enemy landed, the equivalent of a loose national guard would swing into action. These locally led and organized units worked closely with the army to prepare for any possible invasion contingency. Yes, and entire network of local fighters would make any invasion that much more difficult. In this way, the actual force of the army was several times its professional strength. The keys would be supplying these local militias and getting everyone turned out as soon as an invasion appeared to be imminent.

Thus, as the war began and potential allies fell one after another under the heel of the enemy, Britain stood alone. She knew that the enemy had more men, better (and more modern) equipment, and momentum–a string of recent impressive victories. Yet, England had an indomitable spirit, and most people felt united under the bravery of their leadership.

What most people don’t know is that an invasion force did try to attack from enemy-occupied Norway in the autumn of the war’s first year. But England won a decisive victory and turned the invaders away.

The king celebrated the victory, but he knew it came at the cost of troops he could not spare. In fact, The pyrrhic victory in the northeast may have been one of the major reasons King Harold of England was defeated by William the Conqueror at the Battle of Hastings in 1066.