Nazi Germany Unleashes Bombers on London

Germans Bomb London

Bomb damage to HMV (His Master’s Voice) gramophone shop, Oxford Street, London, 1940. The shop had been opened by Sir Edward Elgar in 1921Photograph: Cecil Beaton/Imperial War Museum


The Blitz, London, 1942. A workman with a wheelbarrow clears up fallen debris from the roof of St Mary-le-Bow after its first bombing. Subsequently the church was completely destroyed. The church was rebuilt after the war. It was said that a genuine Cockney was a person born within the sounds of the bells of St. Mary-le-Bow.  Photograph: Cecil Beaton/Imperial War Museum


Bomb damage to the church of St Lawrence Jewry, Guildhall, London, 1940. Designed by Sir Christopher Wren, the church suffered major damage during the Blitz and was rebuilt to Wren’s original design in 1957.  Photograph: Cecil Beaton/Imperial War Museum


London Blitz:  Young woman pulled alive from rubble of bombed building by London Air Raid Precaution emergency workers

Payback is a Bitch
Stuttgart after a visit from RAF Bomber Command in 1943

ROYAL AIR FORCE BOMBER COMMAND, 1942-1945. (CL 3437) Low-level aerial photograph of the devastated city centre of Stuttgart from the south-west, after 53 major raids, most of them by Bomber Command, destroyed nearly 68 percent of its built-up area and killed 4,562 people. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source:



Mississippi Given to Greeks Bombed by Germans

The USS Mississippi was the first battleship of her class and was commissioned for the US Navy in 1908. She was subsequently sold to Greece in 1914 and was then renamed Kilkis. Kilkis saw minimal action during WW 1, assisted the White Russian Forces in the 1919 Allied Crimean expedition, and became a naval artillery training ship in 1935. She was sunk by German Bombers in April 1941 while docked at Salamis Naval Base.



Dressed with flags, off Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, during Founders’ Week, 1908. Note motor launch off the starboard quarter, with Mississippi’s name painted on its stern, and the ship’s name in large letters atop the after superstructure.




View on the foredeck, looking aft, with the forward 12″/45 gun turret trained to starboard, 1908. Note: anchor chain and capstans; hatches; bridge structure with ship’s bell attached below its forward end. Photographed by Enrique Muller.




View looking forward from the ship’s port bridge wing, 1908. Note the 12″/45 gun turret with grating hatches open; also winch and capstans, with decorated tops on the latter. An old fortification is in the left distance. Photographed by Enrique Muller.

Under attack by German JU 87 dive bombers, at the Greek naval base at Salamis, 23 April 1941. In the lower left, in the floating drydock, is the destroyer Vasilefs Georgios. Kilkis, the former USS Mississippi (Battleship # 23), was sunk in this attack. The floating dock and destroyer were also sunk (reportedly on 20 April ?), but Vasilefs Georgios was subsequently raised and placed in service by the German Navy as Hermes (ZG-3). Photograph and some caption information were provided by Franz Selinger.


Sunk at the Greek naval base at Salamis, after she was hit by German air attacks on 23 April 1941. Photographed from a German Heinkel HE 60 seaplane after the base was occupied by the German Army. Note bomb damage to the nearby pier. Kilkis was the former USS Mississippi (Battleship # 23). Photograph and some caption information were provided by Franz Selinger.
Lots of American naval ships end up in foreign navies.


P51 Mustang Saves Bomber Offensive

P51 to the Rescue

Lieutenant Vernon R Richards of the 361st Fighter Group flying his P-51D Mustang nicknamed ‘Tika IV’, during a bomber escort mission in 1944. (photograph and caption courtesy of the Imperial War Museum)

D-Day was not the Second Front.
The Anglo-American Strategic Bombing Offensive against Germany was the second front
d-day was the Third Front.
The First Front was the massive battle on the Eastern front between the Germans and the Soviets. 


Graves of German soldiers somewhere in Russia. (Bundesarchiv)

Because the Soviets killed over 80% of German soldiers killed in World War Two, something Stalin frequently pointed out to Churchill and FDR, the most important strategic goal of the Allies (the US and the British Empire) was to keep the Soviets in the war. The P-51 ended up playing an important role in this.

We absolutely had to think of a way to relive the intense German military power being unleashed on the Soviets by the Germans (who had a kill rate of one German soldier to 27 Soviet soldiers). The British had begun a small bombing campaign against Nazi Germany and its allies before America was in the war because there was no other way for the Brits to attack Germany.

Pilots of No. 310 (Czechoslovak) Squadron RAF in front of Hawker Hurricane Mk I at Duxford, Cambridgeshire, 7 September 1940. (Photo and caption courtesy of the Imperial War Museum).

Germans Bomb London and Other Cities Throughout the UK

From the late summer of 1940 to the early summer of 1941, the German Luftwaffe bombed London and other major British cities and ports in a savage campaign which killed more than 40,000 people in the UK, half of them in London. More than one million homes were destroyed. So, the British felt little remorse at bombing the Germans.

RAF Bomber Command took unacceptable casualties in daylight bombing and began bombing only at night. The US Army Air Force and the Bomber Barons were convinced that daylight bombing was the best way in spite of the British experience.

Boeing B-17F 42-29513. 346th Bombardment Squadron, 99th Bombardment Group

In our arrogance, the US believed that properly staged formations of B-17 Flying Fortress’s would be self-defending and wouldn’t need fighter cover. This assumption was proven to be completely wrong by the horrifying losses suffered during 1943 and early 1944 by the USAAF 8th Air Force flying from Great Britain.

Unfortunately, no fighter had the range to accompany American bombers all the way to Berlin and points east and then fly all the way back to Great Britain. Someone thought of drop tanks which were easy to make. However, there needed to be a rugged and fast heavy fighter to take on the German fighters over Germany.

What About the P51?

P-51D Mustang at the National Museum of the United States Air Force. (U.S. Air Force photo)

American bombers finally accompanied by fighters for the entire flight

The P-51 had been a disappointment. It wasn’t fast enough. Someone thought of putting a Rolls Royce Merlin engine from a Spitfire on the airframe of a P-51. The rest is history. Fitted with drop tanks and the Merlin engine, the P-51 was able to provide fighter cover to American bombers all the way to Berlin and back. This allowed the bombing of Germany to continue and allowed American fighter to destroy the fighter arm of the German Air Force.

Every week, long before D-Day, General Dwight Eisenhower, Supreme Commander of the Allied Expeditionary Forces, sent Stalin a book of photographs of German cities Americans had bombed. Churchill did likewise. As the Anglo-American bombing offensive took hold, the Russians felt the effects. German aircraft were withdrawn from Russia and most importantly, the famed German 88 artillery piece, anti-tank gun, and anti-aircraft gun were withdrawn in large numbers from the Eastern front to defend German cities.

P-51D cockpit in the WWII Gallery at the National Museum of the United States Air Force. (U.S. Air Force photo)

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.


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



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

rescued from collapsed building

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

heinkel over london

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



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.


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)



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.

London during The Blitz (7)

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.


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


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.

Nazi Flak Towers

Many an Allied bomber was shot down in flames by anti-aircraft fire from one of the handful of Nazi Germany’s Flak Towers

(If you have forgotten: the technique of firebombing used so successfully against many German cities was developed by the German Luftwaffe for their long campaign or aerial firebombing of London in the early years of the war)


Reichsgebiet, Alarm auf Flakturm

Fliegeralarm! Running to their action posts on the Zoo Tower 1944.

Most of these young gunners were fifteen or sixteen and were known as the kinderflak



This is one of the surviving towers in Vienna. You can clearly see how massive these buildings were.

The main function of the towers was less shooting down individual Allied bombers, although that was important, but more to put up such a mass of anti-aircraft fire as to hinder bombing attacks on the area immediately around them. Flak, a word used by both sides, is the abbreviation of the German word “Fliegerabwehrkanone,” which translates as “air defense cannon”.

The batteries fired pre-set “box barrages” to create a curtain of flak which British Royal Air Force or US Army Air Force bombers would have to fly through on their bomb run. Shells were set to explode at different heights usually above 20,000 feet. The strategy was to force the bombers higher since the higher they were when they dropped their bombs the less accurate the bombing. (Although under the best conditions bombing was rarely accurate).

Additionally, while these photographs were all taken in daylight, the British Royal Air Force bombed at night. So the other reason to force the bombers above 20,000 or so feet was to put them in the path of German night fighters. When a spotlight caught a bomber, the point was to illuminate the bomber for the night fighters. Nonetheless, various anti-aircraft batteries in Berlin, for example, would open up. This often led to German flak batteries shooting down their own night-fighters.

German Fighter Command made regular complaints to the anti-aircraft command to stop doing this and toward the end of the war demanded that the gun captain of any battery which fired above its mandated ceiling be tried and shot.

Exterior of flak tower in Vienna now used as a climbing wall.

Three such towers were built in Berlin, three in Vienna, and two in Hamburg. Each tower actually consisted of two towers: the very large gun tower known as the ‘G-Tower’ and a smaller fire-control tower located nearby known as the ‘L Tower’. The fire control tower transmitted the targeting values to the gun tower by wire – that is telephone/telegraph wire – that was buried deep below ground in a concrete tunnel to protect the wires from being severed.

Another of the surviving towers in Vienna.

In addition to serving as platforms for anti-aircraft guns, each G Tower had a large bomb shelter for civilians. These shelters were designed to accommodate thousands of civilians, a hospital, workshops of various sorts, and Wehrmacht command posts. Each tower had an independent supply of electricity and water as well as barracks and offices for the Luftwaffe personnel who operated the tower and the guns. In the Third Reich, all anti-aircraft defense was the responsibility of the Luftwaffe.

ADN-Zentralbild/Archiv II. Weltkrieg 1939-1945 Schwere Flak in Feurebereitschaft auf dem Flakturm des Berliner Zoo-Bunkers, eine der wenigen großen Schutzanlagen aus Eisenbeton. Aufnahme: Pilz April 1942

April 1942. One of the main gun platforms of the Zoo Tower, most famous of all the flak towers. Shells were kept in the heavy steel ready-use ammunition locker at right and carried to guns by a squad of men as seen above and right. Because the gunners were out in the open on the platforms without protection from bomb splinters or the shrapnel from their own anti-aircraft shells casualties were often heavy.

The Zoo Tower was the first one to be built and was located by the Berlin Zoo in the center of city and was meant to protect the key government buildings. The tower was destroyed by the British in 1946. It was located in what is now the aviary section of the Berlin Zoo.

Although the zoo was destroyed during the war with most of the animals being shipped to other cities or shot by the army, it was rebuilt in its original location which is very close to where the Kurfürstendamm ends at the Tiergarten.

(Photo from: German National Archive.  Schwere Flak in Feurebereitschaft auf dem Flakturm des Berliner Zoo-Bunkers, eine der wenigen großen Schutzanlagen aus Eisenbeton. Aufnahme: Pilz April 1942)


The towers were almost indestructible with the walls on each tower being 2.5 meters thick or 8 1/2 feet of solid concrete. The towers could – and often did – survive direct hits by Allied bombs. Because these were such massive structures, many of them remain since no one can figure out how to dismantle them without wrecking an entire neighborhood. I think the surviving towers are an important part of the history of WW Two and should be preserved.


Flak tower in Hamburg

The best, and to my knowledge, the only book devoted to the towers is The Flak Towers: In Berlin, Hamburg and Vienna 1940-1950 by Michael Foedrowitz. The book was translated from the original German. The research is impeccable. The author worked almost exclusively from primary sources as well as interviewing the leading expert on the towers. Four stars.

Coventry after the major Luftwaffe air raid on the night of 14/15 November 1940


King George Visits Coventry; Finds Stricken City Undaunted;


LONDON, Nov. 16–Coventry– victim of Germany’s self-styled greatest air raid in history–was today displying another kind of greatness by arising from the misery and ashes of Thursday’s punishment to heal its wounds

November 17, 1940,




A wrecked bus stands among a scene of devastation in the centre of Coventry after the major Luftwaffe air raid on the night of 14/15 November 1940.


The ruins of Coventry cathedral two days after the German Luftwaffe air raid on the city on the night of 14 November 1940.


Broadgate in Coventry city centre following the Coventry Blitz of 14/15 November 1940. The burnt out shell of the Owen Owen department store (which had only opened in 1937) overlooks a scene of devastation.



Holy Trinity Church rises above a scene of devastation in Coventry following the air raid on the night of 14/15 November 1940.



Bomb Damage in Coventry, November 1940 Men from the Auxiliary Military Pioneer Corps clear debris in Coventry two days after the severe German air raids on the night of 14-15 November 1940.



bomb Damage in Coventry, November 1940 The smoking ruins of buildings two days after they were destroyed by the severe German air raids on the night of 14-15 November 1940.



Prime Minister Winston Churchill walks with a guard and members of the Anglican clergy through the ruins of Coventry Cathedral which was bombed by the Germans in 1940. Official war photograph for the British government.

photographs courtesy Imperial War Museums

Massive Bomb Dropped On London Found 75 Years Later



Emergency vehicles on site where bomb found. 

Pizza, potato wedges, and soft drinks are little consolation for being kicked out of your East London flat due to a live World War II bomb being found underneath the floorboards. However, that’s exactly what happened to over 150 people who spent the night in an emergency shelter after being booted from their apartments; the 500-pound bomb was unearthed yesterday while builders were working to convert a former factory into luxury flats.

“The bomb is 10 feet from my flat on the other side of a wall and I’ve had so many parties here…if it was going to blow up, it would have done so by now,” one evacuee, Pauline Carter, 26, told The London Evening Standard.

“I didn’t know anything about it until I went outside ….,” said Oers Sardi, 28, another resident who was told to leave immediately.

The bomb was evidently dropped during the Blitz of 1940-1941, making it about 75 years old. Photographs released by the Ministry of Defense show the dangerous artifact to be a rusting shell resting about two feet underground. The Ministry of Defense has been delicately attempting to remove the bomb, as it is reportedly in a “tricky location.” There is not yet a timetable for it to be defused and extracted. Jeva Lange

Courtesy of “The Week”



From the London Evening Standard

Bethnal Green bomb: Army explosives experts prepare to defuse and detonate 500lb WW2 bomb dug up under flats


British Army bomb disposal experts moving bomb away from buildings after digging it up. Not a job I would want.


Army bomb disposal experts were today battling to defuse a Second World War bomb as hundreds of evacuated residents feared they could be forced to spend a second night away from home.

Teams worked overnight after a 500lb bomb was unearthed at lunchtime yesterday by builders converting a former factory in Bethnal Green into luxury flats.

Ministry of Defence sources admitted the 70-year-old device was in a “tricky location” and this morning were unable to give a precise timetable for its removal.

3pm Update: Army defuse bomb and families return home
Adam Atkinson, vicar of St Peter’s church in Bethnal Green, said residents were “definitely fearing” that they may be unable to return home today. “What is being talked about by the uniformed services is more in hope than expectation that it will be resolved today,” he told the Standard.

The remainder of the story is here

British Army Bomb Disposal Experts Prepare to Defuse Bomb