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Why were the major cities of Britain bombed by the Germans in 1940-41?

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History Coursework The Blitz 1.) Why were the major cities of Britain bombed by the Germans in 1940-41? On the night of 24th August 1940 a German bombing raid aimed at British Fighter Command aerodromes, was miscalculated and some bombs landed on London. Reichsmarschall Herman Goering, in charge of the Luftwaffe was furious, as although commanders were ordered to prepare for the possibility of city bombing, it was forbidden. Churchill had already declared that if London was hit, "it seems very important to be able to return the compliment the next day on Berlin". Sure enough, Bomber Command mounted an attack on the German capital the next night. On top of this the RAF had been bombing Germany for some time, but never Berlin. This paved the way for further escalation, and it was Hitler who had been reluctant before to bomb London who responded on the 4th September: "if they declare they will attack our cities on a large scale, we will erase theirs!" ...read more.


As a result of this the RAF had won the Battle of Britain in what was called 'The Battle of Britain Day'. Nighttime attacks were also a benefit for the German aircrew as they were absolutely exhausted by days of continuous flying, and only flying at nights helped them to recover. Also, the RAF was almost dysfunctional at night and could do little to defend their cities. This factor along with the sight of their enemy's cities burning in many different places was a great boost to German morale. It made a lot of sense to many German commanders to attack the cities indiscriminately; as bombing was very inaccurate so precision bombing was almost impossible during the day, let alone at night. They felt it was much better to attack huge industrial areas rather than aerodromes or particular targets, especially now daytime attacks were no longer a feasible option. Originally, the Luftwaffe only bombed London, as it was easy to find and had the largest effect on the population. ...read more.


These targets included Southampton, Birmingham, Liverpool, Bristol, Plymouth and of course Coventry. In January 1941, Cardiff became a target for the first time and so were the shipyards of Portsmouth and Avenmouth. Birmingham and Bristol were also attacked earlier in the attempt to break morale. Portsmouth and other naval bases were also bombed in an attempt to prepare for invasion, and then just in an attempt to aid the u-boats in the destruction of Royal Navy ships which may escort convoys to England from America or from around the empire. Towards the closing stages of the Blitz from January to May 1941, as well attacking London, the bombers tended to concentrate on ports, particularly after General Admiral Raeder persuaded Hitler to issue a directive on 6th February that gave attacks on ports the highest authority. This included Plymouth, Portsmouth, Bristol, Avenmouth, Swansea, Belfast and Newcastle. Western ports also became a major focus as the termini for the supplies offered by the USA, under President Roosevelt, who was pro-war and also pro-allies. This included Liverpool, Birkenhead, Greenock, Cardiff, Bristol, Plymouth and Devonport, as well as Belfast. By Dominic Wilkinson ...read more.

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