The Blitz - September 7th 1940 to May 10th 1941

 

Listen to some wartime songs - click on the blue buttons

 

 

What was the Blitz?

blitz-london-fire

The Blitz was a period of the Second World War when the Germans frequently dropped bombs on major British cities. The Blitz lasted for 267 days and London was attacked 71 times (57 of those times were on consecutive nights). Over one million houses were destroyed or damaged and more than 40,000 civilians were killed, half of those were in London.

Blitz is shortened from the German word Blitzkrieg which means lightning war. The German airforce which carryed out the bombing was called the Luftwaffe.

Hitler chose to bomb Britain at night time as it was harder for the British to attack the Luftwaffe and Hitler knew that bombing at night would terrify civilians and prevent them from sleeping.

Luftwaffe bombing

Dornier DO-17 bombing England in September 1940

 

The effect of the Blitz

The Blitz bombing attacks were at night. On the first day of bombing 430 people were killed and 1,600 badly injured. During the first month of the Blitz, the German Air Force dropped 5,300 tons of high explosives on London in just 24 nights. At the height of the Blitz London was very badly bombed almost every night for two months and one third of London was destroyed. Many people of London spent most nights sleeping in air raid shelters.  No one, who lived near a likely bombed city, could sleep safely in their bed. Sometimes German bombers made mistakes and dropped their bombs in entirely the wrong areas. The government tried to confuse the German bombers by making everyone ‘blackout’.

In May 1941 the bombing raids were less often as Hitler decided to fight Russia. Even though the Blitz was not very long 60,000 people lost their lives, 87,000 were seriously injured and 2 million homes were damaged or destroyed. The last major attack on London was on 10 May 1941. 515 bombers destroyed or damaged many important buildings, including the British Museum, the Houses of Parliament and St. James's Palace; this raid caused more casualties than any other, 1,364 people were killed and 1,616 people seriously injured. Six days later 111 bombers attacked Birmingham; this was the last major air raid on a British city for a year and a half.

 

The First Day Of The Blitz

 

Archive footage and first-hand accounts provide an insight into the terror London faced on September 7, 1940 when the Nazis began the first of many attacks from the air.

A YouTube presentation