Why were the major cities of Britain bombed by the Germans in 1940 – 1

1. Why were the major cities of Britain bombed by the Germans in 1940 – 1? (15)

The bombing all started when German airships accidentally bombed London, which did not do much harm, but despite this Churchill made the accident seem worse than it really was and in retaliation bombed Berlin very heavily, this was one of the main reasons why the major cities were bombed during 1940 – 1 as the Germans wanted revenge.

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Major cities were also bombed because the Germans wanted to cripple the British economy, destroy the manufacturing industry so that would be starved of vital resources which would in turn make Britain not able to function as a country so that there would be little to none resistance against an invasion by the Germans.

An example of bombing particular cities was Liverpool. Liverpool was the second most bombed city after London. The main reason for Hitler bombing cities like Liverpool was because Liverpool was a major shipping port which received imports from all over the world, and as a result of cutting off the major shipping ports Hitler could starve the British population into submission by cutting off the convoys supplying the country and Southampton was also bombed very heavily for the same reason.

Other cities like Coventry were bombed for different reasons. Coventry had many war factories which accounted for a lot of war work. To prevent Britain from being a major power in the war, Coventry was bombed to the ground on 14th November 1940 with great loss of life and a huge loss in resources.

London was obviously the heaviest bombed and the series of bombing raids night after night became renowned as the Blitz. The raids that fell on the capital were designed with the intent of getting rid of important leaders and killing and injuring citizens as well as destroying housing making people destitute. These series or air raids were supposed to lower the morale of the Londoners but if it did anything it made them more defiant, and willing to prove that they can survive and carry on with their normal lives. One of the worst bombed places was the East End. Thousands lost their homes in an area which was and still is the poorest areas in the country.

Manchester was one of the main industrial towns in the country and was bombed exactly for that reason. Through the bombing of Manchester the whole country suffered a huge lack of certain goods that were wanted and needed by the country one such item was soap. Because of a shortage of soap there were diseases being spread around at a much accelerated rate.

In conclusion these countries were bombed to bring the country to a mental and physical standstill, to starve the country of its resources and to stop the country exporting goods which they needed for extra revenue. Unfortunately for the Germans this did not happen, due to the resilience of the British people. In a way the bombings of London, Liverpool, Coventry and other towns and cities made the country work together against the enemy, untied.

2. Describe the effects of the Blitz on everyday life in Britain (15)

There were many ways in which the blitz affected everyday life in Britain for example there were many blackouts and the air raids certainly hindered coherency but despite this the citizens of Britain stayed united against the constant bombardment of the Germans.

During the blitz everyday life was affected dramatically due to many things including blackouts. Blackouts were a major issue as lights were out, car lights were dimmed, street lights were off and as a result of this nothing could be seen. With no lights no one could see anything or could be seen under the cover of darkness. This caused many accidents and deaths of motorists and pedestrians. One town in Northumberland was bombed when a German bomber caught sight of the headlights from a bus at the end of its route which led to a mass bombing of the area. Nearly 1500 people had been killed on the roads by December 1939. After the government saw the extent of damage caused by the need not to be seen they finally allowed cars to use dimmed headlights and they also allowed pedestrians to use dimmed torches to find their way around. Also to assist the pedestrians and drivers, the kerbs, roadsides and causeways were painted black and white, so that they were easier to see with dimmed lights.

Another affect of the blitz was that many people would leave for the country side as to avoid the chance of being hit by an air raid, as most air raids happened under the cover of night people thought that it would be best if they were to leave for the country side and then return back to work and civilisation the next morning. The people who did not trek out into the country side would have stayed in air raid shelters, either public ones or ones they had built themselves, or they would have squeezed into the railway station, as this was a place underground away from raids and was also a place to commute.

There were two main types of air raid shelters: the first was Anderson and the other was named Morrison. The two were made from corrugated steel which bowed in the middle and were fixed together with high density bolts, the main structure of the building was dug two metres underground which sufficed for most sheltered victims. After the main part if the shelter was laid down it was covered by on average forty centimetres of mud and soil, which would help disguise the shelter and would decrease the possibility of it being hit.

The use of shelters practically forced people out of their houses which would be quite a hindrance. When they were released around 500,000 shelters were distributed by the end of the year and the use of shelters helped to decrease the amount of Londoners staying in the underground which bode well for the government as one town had its underground bombed which caused a massacre which showed that the underground stations were all too easy to destroy, although this happened the government covered it up well and as there were less people in the underground it meant that the fear of another massacre occurring again was practically eliminated.

With people moving from place to place evacuation was a huge problem. The evacuation plan states that the younger children should be evacuated out of London to prevent any more deaths while the elders were out on the front line fighting for their country. The children were taken to places were there was a high population density. There was a lot of resistance prior to evacuation as many parents did not want to let their children go as they feared that they would never see their children again and many of the people who feared this preferred to take the risk of keeping their children with them.

3. In what ways did the British government attempt to hide the effects of the Blitz from the people of Britain? (20)

Although the British public were not showing any signs of their morale lowering, the government decided that they must stop the press from releasing any images or text that may have a negative effect on the morale of the population. If the morale of the population did lower, not only would the war effort lose power but Hitler would succeed in his aims. Censorship of dead bodies, explicit images, great damage to buildings and areas of country or damage aircrafts were to stop the public seeing the down side of the war. Incidents where there were many casualties were not reported on, and bloody photos were banned. The government went as far as to make it so that any photographs that had anything to do with the war had to be approved before they could be published.

On the other hand successful events in the British war effort were exaggerated in the press. For example, if the British were to have shot down thirty Luftwaffe planes, the press would say they shot down ninety five, which is more than three times the actual number of planes shot down. This was done in order to keep morale very high. The government was very keen to limit any reports on events during any conflict. This meant that no reporters were allowed in any area affected by the raids, so the government could control the news almost entirely and did so to project a very positive image of what was going on.

Another method of propaganda was to publish posters and leaflets to aid the conscription of male and female workers to help the war effort. The posters were designed to make members of the public aware that they could make a difference and really help their country which would stir up patriotic feelings. The government believed that when feeling patriotic, citizens would only think about positive press and do more to help the war effort.

The German press headlines promoting any German success were making their way towards Britain, and the government had to produce propaganda to put across a false image that they wanted the public to believe. Creating positive propaganda to promote patriotism did this. One such example was when the King and Queen visited different areas of London which were affected by the raids, one such place was the London Underground which at the time was full of people who had stayed there overnight while the raids took place. It showed that the whole country was going through the same experience and same hardships even members of the royal family and this created a positive community spirit. The king and queen deciding not to send their daughters away as part of the evacuation programme, and themselves to stay in the country also served as positive propaganda, really showing the country that the king and his family were fully committed to serving their country and not leaving at the first sight of danger.

A highly successful piece of propaganda used by the government was one to promote the germination of carrots. There was a short supply of food and the country needed all the extra food it could obtain. In order to get more farmers and people living in the country side to grow more carrots, the government began a highly successful campaign stating that carrots would help you see in the dark. This increased the production of carrots immediately, because with the current blackout, people wanted to believe that they would be able to see in the dark. This is definitely a worthy form of propaganda, as many people still believe and tell this myth today.

For much of the war there was support for the government and determination to win but at times there was fear and apprehension. Some people may have felt more negative about the war and the government, but a lot of the bad news was kept hidden from the people and the government encouraged positive propaganda to keep morale up. Throughout the war the government used many forms of positive propaganda to hide the devastating effects and to prevent a negative effect on the people of Britain.

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