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Difference between Battle and War

‘We have won the battle but lost the war’

This expression is often used to describe different kinds of conflict.  These words, war and battle, are about fighting so why are they confused?  This explanation should make it easier to understand the fundamental difference.The Difference between Battle and War

A battle is a small part of a war.  The battles are won and lost between individuals or small groups leading up the winning or losing the war.  The war is about the principle or ideology behind the disagreement and the strategy that goes with using the armed forces to win the war by fighting battles.  Several battles together can be referred to as a campaign but ultimately all battles and campaigns go towards winning the overall war.

Two World Wars have been fought with massive losses of lives and property damage.   Battles were fought on land. in the sea and in the air.  Wars were won through strategy, espionage and bravery with great leadership.  War offices were the rooms where leaders would meet to plan how to fight the battles of the war.  Different countries, the allies, planned to win the war against a common enemy.  Wars have been fought for centuries under different flags and banners.  War is an industry as ammunitions and vehicles of war are bought and sold by nations to fight their battles and win their wars.


The word battle has been used on a personal level too.  Patients fight battles against disease and cancer.  People battle with their emotions on a regular basis and winning half the battle is an encouraging landmark for someone fighting a disease.  The idiom used to say ‘the heat of the battle’ puts the conflict whatever it is in its most daring and dangerous spot.

Countries and governments have been meticulous about their war efforts and campaigns so that they can enlist everyone in the fight against the enemy.  Winston Churchill was one of the most famous war strategists of his time.  He led Britain and the Commonwealth through the Second World War and it was through his famous speeches that the country was inspired to follow him.

In his address to the House of Commons, on the 18th June 1940,  about Britain’s finest hour he used the word battle and war together in the same speech.  This shows clearly the difference between the two principles.  He says:

“Upon this battle depends the survival of Christian civilization?  Upon it depends our own British life and the long continuity of our institution and our Empire.  The whole fury and the might of the enemy must very soon be turned on us now.  Hitler knows that he will have to break us in this island or lose the war.  If we can stand up to him, all Europe may be free and the life of the world may move forward into broad sunlight ……

This speech makes it is easy to understand that there is a battle to fight for the principle behind the war.  The Second World War fighting for the survival of Christian civilisation.

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References :

[0]Battle. www.en.wiktionery.org/wikki /battle.wikkimedia 20/11/2017

[1]"Image Credit: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Models_of_battle_at_australian_war_memorial_museum.jpg"

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