Why Were the Major Cities of Britain Bombed by the Germans in 1940-1941?

Authors Avatar

Q1. Why Were the Major Cities of Britain Bombed by the Germans in 1940-1941?

The bombing of the major cities in Britain, otherwise known as the Blitz - began as the Battle of Britain neared its climax. The Germans wanted to destroy British aircraft factories and thus deny the RAF the reinforcements they needed. When the Germans failed to achieve the necessary air superiority they needed to launch Operation Sealion (the invasion of Britain), and a battle of attrition ensued.

This began when the Germans came to the conclusion that if an invasion was not immediately possible, they could bomb the UK. The idea of bombing Britain into submission was based on General Giulio Douhet (an Italian General) ideas. In 1930, he argued that air forces should be used in war to destroy the enemy’s air force and morale, until the opposing government surrendered. The Germans had tried such tactics during the Spanish Civil War in April 1937, when they bombed the town of Guernica – causing 2,500 casualties. The theory was that the population, in constant fear if a sudden and violent death, would put pressure on the government ot surrender.

And so, in October, when it became apparent that the battle of Britain had been lost, the Germans took General Douhet’s advice. The Germans hoped it would destroy British morale – an extremely important factor for any country during war.

Q2. Describe the effects of the Blitz on everyday life in Britain.

The Blitz had devastating effects on the people of Britain.

It began during the summer of 1940, when German night raids occurred whilst the Battle of Britain was still raging. Everyone expected an invasion, which did not come. But, the Blitz did. The first big daylight raid on London was on the 7th September 1941. Bombers attacked London’s docks and oil refineries – a clever move, considering such resources were extremely important to a country at war. Despite such bombings, “nobody was seriously frightened (page 10).” That same night, 448 people were killed and 1,600 people were seriously injured. For this reason, that day is known as ‘Black Saturday.’ Such unnecessary slaughter of civilians meant that many came to the conclusion that this turbulent time “wasn’t war, it was murder – they wouldn’t stand for it (page 11).” Such destruction was an incentive for people to begin taking the Blitz seriously by taking the right preparations and precautions – one of the effects that the Blitz had on everyday life in Britain.

Join now!

At this time, Air Raid precautions were made. The government expected thousands to be killed or injured by bombing, so hospitals were cleared ready for bomb victims, millions of cardboard coffins

were made and lime pits were dug for mass burials. People were encouraged to take shelter from bombs in their homes, either under Anderson Shelters in their gardens, in a cellar or under their stairs. People also made use of public bomb shelters – although many of these were badly built. Civilians were also all given gas masks: “Young children had blue and red ones… soldiers had ...

This is a preview of the whole essay