The Blitz: 7 Bloody Months
The Blitz: A series of daily air attacks launched against London and other English cities by the German Luftwaffe over a span of 7 months during World War II. They began on September 7, 1940, and ended on May 1941. On the first night alone, more than 2000 people died in the attack. By the time they were over, more than 13000 were dead. Nearly 88000 were injured, and no one ever forgot it.
Air raid sirens were sounded at the first sight of the German bombers, and citizens knew to drop what they were doing and to hide. Many quickly built or dug air raid shelters in which to hide, hoping them to be resistant to the seemingly constant barrage of bombs and debris.
In reality there was little the British government could to stop the attacks and protect its citizenry. There were a few counter measures taken. In addition to the air raid sirens the British floated barrage balloons. These were large balloons tethered by steel cables that would float high above the city to force the Luftwaffe to fly higher, thereby ruining their aim. The cables were strong enough to destroy any plane flying into them, so the Germans could not fly under the barrage balloons without the cables shearing the wings off their aircraft.
Nighttime blackouts were enforced, making the city dark and therefore invisible to the high flying Germans. The British also built anti-aircraft platforms, such as Redsands Fort, which fired on the German planes before they could get to the cities.
Life during the Blitz was not pleasant. Some 60% of the homes in London were destroyed during the campaign, and families with children were often separated during evacuation. Shops selling food, clothing and other goods were frequently destroyed, forcing rationing of these items.
About 10% of the bombs that the Germans dropped were duds, but could go off at any time, so there were temporary evacuations while the bomb was disposed of virtually everywhere. The consistency of life was nonexistent.
The very blackouts that protected the citizens from the Luftwaffe at night also made it hard to move around at night, so nightlife in the cities came to a standstill.
The goal of the Hitler and his air force with the Blitzkrieg, or lightning war, was to so devastate British morale that an invasion force would be little resisted. This did not work. After 7 months of nearly nonstop bombing, British morale remained strong, and Hitler had to concede failure in this initiative. He pulled the Luftwaffe away for service on the Russian Front, a new area of concern for the Nazis.
Hitler never again was able to have such a large scale campaign against Britain, and although future years of the war brought smaller scale attacks by the Luftwaffe, these too proved unsuccessful against the English people.
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