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

World War II Air Campaign: Battle of Britain--the Blitz on London (September 1940-October 1940)

Figure 1.--After day raids became too costly, the Luftwaffe began night raids on London. Here in September 1940 children of an eastern suburb of London, return from the bomb shelter in the morning to find their home in ruins. National Archives 306-NT-3163V.

Göring believed that the RAF had been virtually destroyed and that the air battle was almost over. The Lufwaffe command was not at all comvinced, but dutifully implement Hitler's instructions. The Luftwaffe staged the first big attack on London (September 7). The attacking Luftwaffe force included 300 bombers and 600 escorts. The RAF was unprepared for the change in target and most of the attacking force reached London. The target was the London docks, but the surronding residential area was also heavily hit. he London docks had been built with homes nearby to make it easy for workers to get to war. London's East End burned. American Ambassador Kennedy sent a diplomatic dipsatch to President Roosevelt and Secretary Hull, "There's hell to pay here tonight." [J.P. Kennedy, September 6.] Both Hitler and Goering believed that this show of force would quickly break the will of the British to resist. Few East Enders had homes with cellars and there were no shelters for huge numbers of persons. Finally the Tube stations were opened up for people. The followup day a smaller attack on September 8 hit electrical power plants and railway stations. What was to follow was 65 days if incessent bombing. Ambassador Kennedy wrote is wife, "The last three nights have been simply hell. Last night I put on my steel helmet and went up on the roof of the Chancery and stayed up there until two o'clock in the morning watching the Germans come over in relsays every ten minutes and drop bombs, setting terrific fires. You could see the dome of St. Paul's silhoutted against a blaxzing inferno that the Germans kept adding to from time to time by flying over abnd dropping more bombs." [J.P. Kennedy, September 10.]


Kennedy, Joseph P. Sr. "Diplomatic Dispatch, September 6, 1940. In Amanda Smith, ed. Hostage to Fortune (Viking: 2001), 764p. I believe Kenndy may have been using Zuku or Washington, D.C. time and the message was sent September 7 in London.

Kennedy, Joseph P. Sr. "Letter to Rose Kennedy, September 10, 1940. In Amanda Smith, ed. Hostage to Fortune (Viking: 2001), 764p.

Murrow, Edward R. This Is London.


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Created: June 11, 2003
Last updated: 9:17 PM 11/9/2004