In June 1940, after the defeat of France, Germany prepared to invade
Britain. German leaders felt it was essential to destroy the British
air force to stop it sinking the ships that would carry German soldiers
across the Channel. Bombing raids on Britain started in July. In
August the German air force concentrated its attack upon airfields,
aircraft factories and radar stations. The Royal Air Force fought
back hard in what was later known as the Battle of Britain. The
German air force nearly succeeded in crippling the British air force,
but its losses of aircraft and aircrew were very high, and the invasion
was postponed. Now, to force Britain to surrender, the attack was
switched to other targets, such as docks, factories and railways.
Because bombing was not accurate, and because most of these targets
were in cities and towns, many bombs fell upon streets and houses,
killing people and destroying property.
On 7 September 1940, 300 German bombers raided the London docks
and from then until May 1941, London was bombed heavily. Other cities
and towns were also heavily bombed, including Swansea, Cardiff,
Bristol, Southampton, Plymouth, Birmingham, Coventry and Liverpool.
From October 5, the German raids took place only at night and the
British defences of anti-aircraft guns and night fighters could
not stop them. However, British planes went on bombing raids to
Germany, attacking factories, cities and towns - especially the
Although many places in Britain were badly damaged during the Blitz,
German bombing did not stop war production or force Britain to surrender.
Over 30,000 British people were killed during this period - over
half in London, which was bombed almost every night.
The Blitz ended in mid-May 1941, when much of the German air force
was sent east to prepare for the invasion of Russia. The immediate
threat of a German invasion of Britain was over, although bombing
was to continue at less intensive levels in 1942 and 1943.