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What is an air raid?

Where did they happen?

hat did the government do?

id people protect themselves?

What is an air raid?

Air raids occurred throughout the war. An air raid was
a bombing strike from the air. The British air force
(the RAF) and German air force (called the Luftwaffe)
were involved, and both countries suffered heavy
casualties during the air raids.
The sustained bombing of Britain by Nazi Germany between 7
September 1940 and 10 May 1941 is known as the Blitz.
Blitz is a shortened term for the German word Blitzkrieg or
Lightning War
Each night, signal planes
dropped incendiary bombs (or
fire bombs) designed as
signals for the bomber planes.
After the incendiary bombs,
came the high explosives.

Where did they happen?

Some residential areas were struck, but mostly bombers targeted
places that were important to the war effort, like military sites,
factories, airports and ship yards.

The first German air attack took place in London on the evening of
7 September 1940. Within months, Liverpool, Birmingham,
Coventry, Glasgow and other cities were hit too.
When the Blitz started, London was bombed for 57 consecutive
nights. By the end of May 1941, over 43,000 civilians, half of them
in London, had been killed by bombing and more than a million
houses destroyed or damaged in
London alone.

What did the government do


Britain was
blacked out on 1st
September 1939.
Everyone had to cover their windows
and doors at night (before sunset) with heavy


blackout curtains, cardboard or

paint, to prevent any
glimmer of light from
escaping and aiding enemy aircraft
during the bombing raids.

Street lights were turned off or dimmed.

Traffic lights and vehicle headlights were
fitted with slotted covers to deflect the
beam down to the ground.
Thousands of people were injured or died in road accidents
because of the lack of lighting. White stripes were painted on the
roads and on lamp-posts. Men were even advised to leave their shirt-t
hanging out to be seen by cars!

w did people protect themselve

When the Luftwaffe approached, local Air Raid Wardens
arranged for the sounding of sirens. People were now
expected to immediately take cover before the raid
actually started. Another siren was played to announce
that it was safe to leave the air raid shelters.


Gas Masks

Everyone in Britain was given a gas mask in a

cardboard box, to protect them from gas
bombs, which
could be dropped
during air raids.
38 million gas masks
were given out
by September 1939.
To warn people of a gas
They were never
raid wardens
would sound the gas rattle.
To sound all-clear they
would ring a bell.

There were several different kinds of gas mask.

Children were given masks which resembled Mickey
Mouse to comfort them. There were even gas mask
for babies.

Seeking Shelter
As soon as war was
declared, every family
with a garden received
an air raid shelter
(Called an Anderson
Shelter). They were
damp, uncomfortable,
and were often
Families could also
choose an indoor
shelter, called a
Morrison Shelter.

Many schools also had bomb sh

- but schoolwork didnt have to

In the winter of 1940, many Londoners

slept in the underground rail stations.

Why do you think they did


do you

What happened in
In Germany the bombing was
equally as damaging. Incendiary
bombs caused great destruction,
causing firestorms. Hamburg
was one such place that suffered
a firestorm in 1943 as did
Dresden in February 1945.
61 German cities were attacked
during the war:
3.6 million homes were
7.5 million people became