German Blitz on London

The Germans complained when the British and later the Americans bombed Nazi Germany. These photographs are examples of what the Nazis did to London early in the war with their bombs. The Nazi blitz on London killed thousands of civilians and destroyed hundreds of thousands of homes. Payback is a bitch.

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boy clutching teddy bear amid ruins after a German raid on London

 

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British Prime Minister Winston Churchill inspecting bomb damage in London,  September 1940. (Photo courtesy of BBC/Getty Images)

From the BBC World War Two History Site

the link is here: BBC World War Two History Site

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This smiling girl, dirtied but apparently not injured, was assisted across a London street on October 23, 1940, after she was rescued from the debris of a building damaged by a bomb attack in a German daylight raid. (AP Photo & caption)

“On 7 September 1940, the Luftwaffe unleashed a merciless bombing campaign against London and Britain’s major cities. Instead of breaking morale, however, the raids only galvanised the will of the British people for the rest of the war.”

Hitler targets London

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A Nazi Heinkel He 111 bomber flies over London in the autumn of 1940. The Thames River runs through the image. (AP Photo/British Official Photo)

On 4 September Hitler, frustrated by the RAF’s superiority over the Luftwaffe and enraged by its bombing of German cities, vowed to destroy the British capital and the spirit of its people.

In response, the Luftwaffe shifted its focus from attacking RAF Fighter Command’s bases and communications networks to bombing Britain’s cities. Hermann Goering, the Head of the Luftwaffe, had severely lost face over both the bombing of Berlin, and his force’s failure to defeat the RAF. He hoped that the intense bombing of British cities would both destroy public morale and draw the remaining RAF fighters into battle and annihilation.

The bombing begins

 

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Firemen spray water on damaged buildings, near London Bridge, in the City of London on September 9, 1940, after a recent set of weekend air raids. (AP Photo)

After a preliminary raid on 5 September, the bombing started proper on the afternoon of the 7th. Almost 1,000 German aircraft – over 300 bombers escorted by 600 fighters – crossed the Channel. It was the largest collection of aircraft ever seen. Fighter Command had not expected raids on London but now attempted to intercept the waves of bombers. A huge dogfight developed over London and the Thames Estuary.

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7 September 1940 view along the River Thames in London towards smoke rising from the London docks after an air raid during the Blitz. (US National Archives)

 

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Author Charles McCain: “I took this photo looking aft from World War Two museum ship HMS Belfast, anchored in the Thames in November of 2014.”

Convinced that the German invasion of Britain was imminent, the country was put on the highest alert. Signals of impending invasion went out – the code word “Cromwell” was sent to military units and church bells rang.

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A scene in central London, the morning after a bomb raid. (Photo by Keystone/Getty Images). 1940

Some of the German bombs did fall on their intended target of the docks, but many fell on the residential areas around them. Substantial parts of East and South-East London were devastated, 430 civilians were killed and 1600 seriously injured. Firestorms ravaged the city, acting as beacons for the second wave of bombers that evening.

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Prime Minister Winston Churchill prepares to broadcast to the Great Britain and the Empire (Imperial War Museum)

After the raids Winston Churchill shared the public’s fury and defiantly announced: “He [Hitler] has lighted a fire which will burn with a steady and consuming flame until the last vestiges of Nazi tyranny have been burnt out of Europe”.

Bombing continues for the next 76 nights

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People shelter and sleep on the platform and on the train tracks, in Aldwych Underground Station, London, after sirens sounded to warn of German bombing raids, on October 8, 1940. (AP Photo)

Although no-one knew at the time, this was the beginning of the Blitz. With the exception of one night, when the weather was bad, the bombing continued for the next 76 nights consecutively, with daytime raids as well. Liverpool, Manchester, Swansea, Cardiff, Bristol, Southampton were also targeted.

Now that the Luftwaffe’s resources were directed into bombing civilians, Fighter Command had an opportunity to repair its infrastructure and attack anew. As well as their own lives, the pilots were now battling to protect their homes and loved ones all over the country.

Published by

Charles McCain

Charles McCain is a Washington DC based freelance journalist and novelist. He is the author of "An Honorable German," a World War Two naval epic. You can read more of his work on his website: http://charlesmccain.com/