Blitz leads to calls for ‘savage reprisals’

The remains Dornier 17s and a Junkers Ju 87 in a scrapyard in Britain, 2nd October 1940.

The remains Dornier 17s and a Junkers Ju 87 in a scrapyard in Britain, 2nd October 1940.

The fuselage of a Heinkel He 111 bomber, being transported by road to a scrap yard, October 1940.

The fuselage of a Heinkel He 111 bomber, being transported by road to a scrap yard, October 1940.

From the Naval Military and Air Situation for the week up 3rd October 1940, as reported to the War Cabinet:

NAVAL SITUATION.

General Review. There has been some activity by enemy destroyers in the Channel. U-Boats have continued to cause many casualties to shipping in the North-Western Approaches. Attacks by enemy aircraft on shipping on the East Coast have increased.

British naval forces have been active in the Eastern Mediterranean. The naval force which was operating off Dakar has returned to Freetown.

AIR SITUATION Great Britain.

31. During this period the scale of operations of the German Air Force was very similar to the preceding two weeks. Widespread night bombing in the London area was continued, but on a somewhat reduced scale, and was concentrated more on the Western outskirts of the capital, the East End and the London Docks being almost neglected. Attacks have continued against the Mersey-side Docks and in the Liverpool area. There has been a marked decrease in operations against South Wales.

Civilian Casualties.
52. The approximate figures for week ending 0600 hours the 2nd October are :— Killed, 2,000; wounded, 2,800. These figures included 1,700 killed and 1,600 wounded in London.

Morale.

(a) The continuance of German attacks upon London, their appearance in daylight, and their resumption upon the provinces have had, in general, no fundamental ill-effect upon the heart of the nation. There is now a real and vindictive demand for reprisals, and the savage dislike of Germany is deepening.

(b) The most marked feature is the cool toleration of inconveniences, and even disasters, and the adjustment of ordinary life to the new conditions, but there is evidence of anxiety over the approach of winter. The recent appointments of Special Commissioners, and the announcements of the development of shelter policy and evacuation have had a reassuring effect.

(c) The dislocation of essential services by causing discomfort has affected people far more than the death and destruction resulting from the raids. Selfadjustment to loss of sleep is particularly noticeable. Many people get more than formerly, though it is less comfortable, for they go so early to their shelters.

(d) Surface shelters are not at the moment fashionable, because of the disasters which have befallen some of them. They are still, however, generally considered as much better than nothing. There is, nevertheless, evidence that larger numbers of people are remaining in their own homes for warmth and comfort, even when they do not possess cellars or ground-floor rooms.

(e) In general, there is no food complication, but there has been great difficulty over warmth and cooking in the most affected areas. The small cafes and eating houses, by ceasing to function, have much embarrassed local populations, but this situation is being rectified.

A Junkers 88 shot down near Hatfield on 3rd October 1940, see details below.

A Junkers 88 shot down near Hatfield on 3rd October 1940, see details below.

Although the massed daylight raids were drawn down, there continued to be sporadic activity during daylight hours by the Luftwaffe bomber force.This was generally un-escorted, mostly conducted by singleton aircraft or very small groups, and often of little value militarily. Although this aircraft, a Junkers 88 of Stab 1./KG 77, was a lone raider shot down on Thursday, 3 October I940 its attack had an unintended although successful outcome for the Luftwaffe.

Trying to find Reading, the crew became lost in poor visibility and accidentally stumbled upon the de Havilland aircraft factory at Hatfield. Here, the crew executed an accurate attack that killed twenty-one factory workers, injured another seventy, and destroyed eighty per cent of the materials and work in progress for the new Mosquito bomber.

It was a significant blow to an important military aircraft project.The airfield defences were alert, though, and put up a barrage of machine gun and 40mm Bofors gun fire which hit and crippled the junkers 88. The bomber crash-landed in flames at Eastend Green Farm, Hertingfordbury, where the crew scrambled clear and were captured unharmed before the fire took hold.

Picture and details from Luftwaffe Bombers in the Blitz.

Map of RAF raids on Germany 1940

RAF Bomber Command raids on Germany up to the end of September 1940.
With public demands for reprisals against Germany following the start of the Blitz, the Ministry of Information released publicity about the attacks that the RAF had made.

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