GERMAN OPINION ON BOMBING.
The consensus of opinion of our bombing by the German officials
is summed up in the word "annoying." Judging from observations
and conversations with German officials, this statement is neither
an exaggeration or an under-estimate.
Raids have been far too frequent to allow them to belittle our
bombing, and instances of really serious raids have left an impression
on their minds never to be forgotten.
Considering the number of raids carried out on stations, the officials
think they have been lucky, and sum up the damage caused as slight.
The only exception to this was at Metz, where they
state that the damage had been considerable. Instances of great
raids, such as those previously mentioned at Metz, Thionville,
Saarbrücken, and Ehrange have greatly
impressed them. They stated, however, that in almost every case
the damage was repairable within a short time.
They considered our shooting was moderate, but pointed out that
it varied very much. As regards the stoppage and dislocation of
traffic, they maintained that damage had never been so great as
to entirely isolate a station for a period of long duration. The
possibilities of this danger had been minutely investigated by those
responsible, and the result, on the whole, had not caused more inconvenience
than had been anticipated. They admitted, however, that alarming
situations had occurred which, for short periods, had seriously
upset their working arrangements. Whenever traffic had to be deviated
from its original course it meant that the damage was such that
trains would not be able to resume their normal running for some
time. As a result of raids and alarms on Saarbrücken
trains were constantly held up for two hours, or, on rare occasions,
for even longer periods.
They stated that attacks on trains running on open lines between
stations had been frequent, but this was outside their experience,
and they professed not to know what effect it had had. In their
opinion, the moral effect of attacking stations had been great.
On occasions it had been difficult to prevent panic, especially
at night, when the idea of giant machines, flying at a low height,
was very terrifying, and greatly impressed the officials as well
as the general public. They expressed surprise that these machines
dare to come so low.
At Saarbrücken the enemy officials were very
proud of their A.A. defence, which, they maintained, had contributed
largely to their comparative immunity.
Thionville, they considered, was not sufficiently
defended, a fact which very materially lowered the morale of the
At Treves the mayor considered the railway station
on the left bank of the Moselle of greater military importance than
that to the east of the town, and could not understand how this
had escaped almost entirely.
The opinion of the stationmaster at Ehrange
is interesting. He considered that the moral effect of the raids
had been very considerable, pointing out how people got no rest
from them and from the alarms day or night. As far as the railway
was concerned he denied that results of any military value had ever
been attained at Ehrange, and even the delays caused
could have been eliminated had there been urgent necessity.
All officials agreed as to the importance of attacking locomotive
sheds, workshops, and permanent railway installations necessary
to ensure smooth running of traffic. At Metz, for
example, they emphasised the importance of the Montigny
workshops, and at Thionville those of Basse
Jeutz. The authorities admit that, generally speaking,
the material damage has been constantly recurrent, with serious
consequences on occasions. No effort was made, however, to belittle
the moral effect produced, which had been considerable throughout
the war, and reached its highest pitch in 1918.
It should be borne in mind that the above are the statements of
German officials who, in some cases, have not undergone the trials
and dangers of bomb raids.
The people of Metz appreciated the fact that surprisingly
little damage had been done to the town itself, and all were unanimous
in stating that they thought every effort had been made to avoid
hitting the town.
Generally speaking, the directors did not attach much importance
to air raids. They were ready to admit the justifiability of bombing
from a military point of view, but condemned the Allies' principle
of attacking workmen's colonies.
With a few exceptions the directors asserted that the material
damaged had been insignificant, and had not affected the war one
way or the other. Such damage had invariably been repaired at once
without any difficulty, and in very few cases had any stoppage of
The moral effect of the various raids was admitted to have been
very considerable: the constant alarms and attacks had got on the
workmen's nerves. No difficulty had, however, been experienced with
the workers, and very few had left the works during the war.
The directors stated that day raids caused them little inconvenience,
but night alarms and raids were feared, and were spoken of as "exceedingly
annoying" from every point of view.
Our shooting, they considered, was very erratic both by day and
night. They were anxious to know what portion of the works was aimed
at; the vital points, the buildings, the workmen's cottages, or
the works as a whole.