*** World War II air campaign -- Battle of Britain the Blitz London

The Blitz: London

London blitz
Figure 1.--This 1940 wire service photograph shows two London boys inspecting their wrecked home. This was a 5-6 story building. Most of London and the suburbs consisted of 1-2 story homes. This limited the bomb danafe. On Hitler's orders, the Luftwaffe commenced the Blitz on London (September 1940). Large numbers of homes were destroyed. Some 23,000 civilans were killed. As errinle as this tally was--it had no real impact on the British war effort. But wars are not won by destroying homes and killing civians. The cost of destroying those homes and killing civilians was the loss of valuabkle planes and air crews needed to win the War. And when the Hitler ordered the Blitz ended, not only was the RAF stronger, but factories in the industrial midlands as well as shipments from America had replaced the weapons lost at Dunkirk. The British Army was no longer disarmed and Hitler had lost his opportunity to invade.

London was not just any city. It was the capital of an empire that governed about a quater of the world an spanned the globe. It was a major financial center and also a city that played an important role in art, fashion, science, and industry. NAZI triumphs had until June had been relatively small coyntries and cities unfamilar to most Americans. This changed with German troops marched down the Champs-Elysée and Hitler danced in front of the Eifel Tower (June 1940). Paris was an iconic city. Americans were shocked, even isolationists in Congress and American attitudes and policies began to change. London was also an iconic city. The British spoke English and had connections with America beyond any other city. Whether they thought it through or not, most Americans instinctively knew that if London could be bombed, the same kind of brutality could be visited on New York and other American cities. Radio would bring the brutality of the NAZI attacks into American homes night after night. The impact was incalcuable. While not obvious at the time, it was ikn those same American living rooms that Britain's future would be decided. London was not only an iconic city--it was also very large, one of the largest city of the world, in both population and area. London did not have skyscrapers like New York. Instead of up, London grew out. The size of the city made it a very diffivult target for the Luftwaffe. It meant that a very large area would have to be bombed. And the Luftwffe would have to do it with medium bombers--meaning bombers swith relatively small payloads. And London was not a Channel port or RAF fields in Kent. This meant that the bombers had longer to go and the fighters would have a relatively short time over London before they would begin to run short of fuel. There were some stratehic targets in London such as the docks. But more than anyrging London was a city of homes without major industrial plants. Thus Hitler had essentially committed a valuable military assett (the Luftwaffe) to destroy London homes--an assett of little strategic importance.


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Created: 5:31 PM 9/30/2005
Last updated: 5:29 AM 9/30/2008