It was dangerous to be in the city in Britain early on in the war. After Nazi Germany’s failure to conquer Britain with the Battle of Britain (10 July – 31 October 1940), Hitler planned to bomb the nation into submission.
This was called the ‘Blitz’
At 4:56pm on 7 September 1940, the air raid sirens wailed as the German Air Force, the Luftwaffe, launched a massive raid on London.
Night after night after night, London and other major cities in Britain were bombed by Germany. Over one third of London was destroyed.
Hitler thought that like during the earlier Guernica bombing during the Spanish Civil War, a civilian population could be bombed into submission.
What was an air raid?
Air raids happened mostly at night because the bombers were harder to spot. British soldiers used AA guns, spotlights and balloons with wires to try and counter the bombers but to little effect.
A loud air raid siren would scream out warning people that German bombers were approaching and to seek shelter. Londoners sought shelter in underground train stations and Anderson shelters which they built via homemade kits in their back garden. They would protect you from flying debris but not a direct hit!
Air Raid wardens, police and other services put out fires and rescued injured civilians even during bombings and directed people to shelters.
London was not the only city targeted:
Other cities and towns were also heavily bombed, including Swansea, Cardiff, Bristol, Southampton, Plymouth, Birmingham, Coventry and Liverpool.