Why did the RAF bomb cities?

Extract from a pamphlet relating to bombing issued by the Ministry of Information, 1942-1943

Catalogue ref: INF 2/8

[Additional text shown in square brackets]

[Bombed cities shown on map]

Duisburg, Krefeld, Dusseldorf, Cologne, Essen, Munster, Dortmund, Hamm

[Captions for the photographs]


This an early reconnaissance photograph. Duisburg is the principal river port from which products of the Ruhr are sent down the River Rhine.

Dortmund-Ems Canal

Bombing accuracy of the R.A.F. The bed of the canal is seen pitted with large craters. Barges are stranded on the mud. The canal has been rendered useless for some time.


Since the photograph below was taken, Hamm, great railway centre of the Ruhr has been successfully attacked in bombing raids on over eighty occasions.

[Pamphlet text]

That spring and summer April to September 1941 the R.A.F dropped
20,000 tons of bombs
on Germany and German-occupied territory

All R.A.F RAIDS have in view the destruction of specific war objectives. They may be directed on oil refineries, or on the synthetic-oil plants which are so vital in the German war economy, an aircraft factory or key electrical equipment. At other times they are directed to warehouses and shipping.

Germany cannot practice decentralisation as much as she would like because arms factories need to be as near as possible to coal mines, heavy industry and transport. Eighty-five percent of Germany's essential mines and services connected with war industry are concentrated in the Ruhr! Germany could not transfer her factories on a large scale even if she would, as her most able men are tied down by army service. The labour sent to Germany from the occupied territories is insufficient to man the factories, let alone to move them. German factories must face the bombing of the R.A.F.

For internal transport, Germany has always placed much reliance on the canal system, and with the demand on rail transport for military purposes the maximum use of the canals is of great importance. The attacks of the R.A.F on the celebrated Dortmund-Ems canal is interrupting the traffic for long periods and throwing back the load upon the already overburdened railways.

By the end of 1941, the Ruhr's great railway centre, Hamm has been bombed over eighty times by the Royal Air Force!

Hamburg, Bremen, Hanover and the Rhineland are other centres of war industry which are frequently visited by the RAF. Hamburg - bombed 89 times by the end of April 1942 - is also a port and has important refining plant for Germany's precious synthetic oil.