I agree with this statement in some ways, but not in others. To begin with, Operation Sealion failed meaning that Britain was protected because it did not go ahead. This may, or may not, have been because Germany was afraid of British defence, but either way Britain was safe. Moreover, the Battle of Britain hit Germany hard as they did not expect Britain to break-up German planes with a new formation. This was the chief cause that made Hitler switch to night-time attacks, hence the blitz. Finally, The main targets that the Luftwaffe wanted to bomb was ports, factories and cities.
This disrupted production and trade, and lowered morale. The morale of the British nation was also lowered by the expectations they had about the Luftwaffe. During the Spanish Civil War the city of Guernica was virtually destroyed by the Luftwaffe. This made the public of Britain uneasy because they thought this would happen to cities here. Also, approximately one million deaths were expected within the British population. Britain protected its inhabitants by using seven different forms of protection. Firstly, propaganda.
This can be viewed as protection because things such as leaflets (Source A for example), not only highered morale, but informed the public of how they could protect themselves. Though this informed and reassured the public, also highering morale, it also had its down-sides. The fact was, propaganda did not stop German bombing. This factor could have lowered British morale. Secondly, the government introduced firewatchers. Though these could have prevented certain damages by informing the emergency services as soon as the incendiary bombs were dropped, they did not actually preclude the attacks.
Thirdly, ARP (Air-Raid Precautions) Wardens were appointed to patrol local areas making sure that everyone in the neighbourhood turned off their lights during blackouts, and followed all air-raid rules/regulations. They were often local people and so they were well respected by other local people, but they were not formally trained; probably did not know as much as people would have originally thought. Fourthly, the government introduced the act known as the ‘Blackout’. This was the process of the British nation basically closing the curtains, turning off their lights, and not using their cars etc. too much.
Though this made the country almost ‘invisible’, it would not protect anyone during the day. Many people will not have felt totally comfortable with participating in the blackout, but it will have highered morale. Fifthly, gas masks were issued to every member of the British public, to protect them from suspected German gas attacks. Though this was an easy precaution to use, and people were supposed to carry them with them at all times, many people did not like wearing them, and maybe even sometimes put their lives in suspected danger by not carrying them with them. Sixthly, the process of evacuation was introduced.
The exact figures were 827,000 children, 524,000 mothers & children, 13,000 pregnant women, 7,000 blind & disabled people and 108,000 teachers. Evacuating the children from the towns/cities will have highered morale because the nation would have been glad the children were safe. Again though, there is a weakness to this form of protection; evacuation would not have prevented German bombing. Also, after the Phoney War, which was a period of nine months at the beginning of the war where no bombs were dropped, families started to take back their children from the countryside, and the government had to try and re-evacuate the children etc. s quickly as they could.
The final form of protection was that of bomb shelters. A typical example of a bomb shelter is like the one in Source B. This is known as an Anderson shelter. It was usually two to three feet below ground level, and was made from a wooden frame and corrugated iron. Though this in itself was an original and well-though-out design, it did have its drawbacks. Firstly, as it was below ground level, when it rained the shelter would fill with water making it uncomfortable to spend time in. Secondly, for a family to possess one they would need the facility of a garden.
This would be a problem for working class citizens as many of them only had small back yards. For people that fell into this group, a new type of shelter was introduced called a Morrison shelter. This was basically dense chicken wire wrapped around the kitchen table. If a bomb were to be dropped and people did climb under their kitchen tables, the weight of the debris would trap them under it, or possibly even kill them. Along with protecting the country, the British government also tried to prevent German planes from actually bombing. There are four main things that were done.
Firstly, AA (Anti-Aircraft) Guns and searchlights were set up. These were very effective when it came to shooting down low flying aircraft, during the day and night. The negative aspect of this method though is that it was hard to aim at high-flying planes, even during the day. Secondly, radars were established to try and track down German aircraft before it got chance to attack. These would have supplied British forces with early warning helping them to set-off air-raid sirens, and giving people enough time to get into air-raid shelters. The problem with radar towers though is the fact that German bombs could destroy them quite easily.
Thirdly, the RAF (Royal Air Force) set up plans to try and destroy as many German planes as possible. The Luftwaffe had more bomber planes than the RAF, but it did not have enough little fighter planes to protect them. This was a big disadvantage to the Germans as bombers without fighters to protect them were shot down before they had a chance to do much damage. The RAF controlled most of the sky over the English Channel, therefore making it difficult for the German to stage a full-blown attack. Finally, barrage balloons were filled with helium and floated above important buildings such as government properties and schools.
Germany would not risk attacking things that were protected because they knew what would happen to their planes; they would explode because of the helium, or get tangled in the wires connecting the balloons to the buildings. This also would not stop the Germans from bombing Britain as they would just drop their bombs somewhere else. In conclusion, I think that Britain was quite well protected from air-raids, but there were definite disadvantages. To begin with the government was very organised and managed to put the country at ease quickly and successfully.
Leaflets like the one in Source A helped to do this, and were informative and concise, but even that had its weaknesses. The country’s trade was disrupted because of the bombing of factories and docks. This will have had a big impact on the population’s morale as they thought that food shortage would start to become a problem. Though possibly, because of the severity of the situation, newspapers may have been censored by the government to keep morale levels up. Britain’s industry took a severe blow when the factories producing steel and other vital materials used during the war, were destroyed.
This also will have lowered morale, but the full extent of the problem may also have been censored to keep morale levels up. In Source C it can be read how many people actually did shelter from bombs in their own houses. The statistics show that only just over a quarter of the country had Anderson shelters, and this was because you needed a garden to have one, and many lower class people did not have one. This may have had an effect on people’s morale because a lot would be killed from sheltering in their own home, and if the nation found out about this it could cause mass panic and distress.
Also, Source D is an eye witness report about Coventry after a heavy raid in 1940. The source shows the full extent of people’s consternation and provides a good insight into what conditions would be like if you lived in a city which had just been bombed. For people’s to give accounts such as this to the newspapers, or even by word of mouth, Britain’s morale will definitely have decreased. Overall, I think that the British government protected its civilians effectively from the effects of air-raids mentally, but not necessarily physically.
I think this because many things such as Source A will have put people’s mind at ease, and they would have thought buying dense chicken wire to go around their kitchen table would have protected them. I do not think the country’s civilians realised how much danger they were actually in until the first bomb was dropped, creating scenes such as the one in Source E. This is why I think that the British government should have been more open about what they knew would happen, but it is understandable why they censored such truths.