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The Bombing Begins

Discussion in 'Battle of Britain' started by Jim, Nov 17, 2007.

  1. Jim

    Jim New Member

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    For Britain, the period of the ‘phoney war’ ended four months after Dunkirk. Initially, the bombing of British cities was a mistake. Prior to September 1940, the Luftwaffe had concentrated their attacks on coastal targets in Britain and on shipping. However, on 23 August 1940, the Luftwaffe accidentally dropped some bombs over London. In retaliation, the Royal Air Force (RAF) bombed Berlin. Hitler was furious and ordered attacks to commence on London. The Battle of Britain lasted just eighty-two days, between 10 July and 31 October 1940. These were the days in which ‘Death holds high festival’, as the poet Mary Desiree Anderson put it in ‘Blitz’. In the early days, the bombing was relentless. From 7 September to 13 November, London was bombed almost every day and every night. A young girl from the East End of London described the eerie feeling of being bombed:

    I remember racing towards the house, Mr E pulling me and yelling. The oddest feeling in the air all around, as if the whole air was falling apart, quite silently. And then suddenly I was on my face, just inside the kitchen door. There seemed to be waves buffeting me, one after another, like bathing in a rough sea. I remember clutching the floor, the carpet, to prevent myself being swept away. This smell of carpet in my nose and trying not to be swept away, and I could hear Mrs R screaming. Mr E was nowhere, the lights were gone, it was all dust, I didn’t even wonder if he was all right . . . didn’t give him a thought.

    Glasgow, Belfast, Liverpool, Cardiff, Coventry, Bristol, Portsmouth, and Southampton were to suffer next. In the period to May 1941, 43,000 people were killed and another 1.5 million families made homeless. Half of the civilians killed were women. Indeed, by September 1942, the death rate of British civilians exceeded that of British soldiers. This remained the case until D-Day in 1944. In the end, however, the losses suffered by the Luftwaffe were crippling. During the Battle of Britain, the German air force lost 1,733 aircraft and 3,089 crew compared with 915 aircraft and 503 pilots within the RAF. As one commentator noted, ‘London burned, but Britain was saved.’
     
  2. r2b2ct

    r2b2ct New Member

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    Very good account of the battle, Jim. I especially like the ending quote. Very powerful and fitting line to describe an epic battle.
     
  3. krrish

    krrish New Member

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    Huge numbers of civilians were killed during the attack on Britain.German Air Force taregetted the British civilians to terrorise them & to force Britain to surrender.
     

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