The First Blitz - Bombing London in the First World War, Ian Castle

The First Blitz - Bombing London in the First World War, Ian Castle

The German bombing raids on London during the First World War shattered British complacency about the immunity of their homeland to direct attack, which had built up in the period after the Napoleonic Wars, and was at least partly based on the idea that the last successful invasion had been in 1066 (there were several during the Wars of the Roses, not to mention the 'Glorious Revolution'). Compared to the Second World War blitz this was actually a small scale campaign, with only nine Zeppelin and eighteen aircraft raids reaching the city, but it was still the first direct attack on British soil since the Napoleonic Wars and came as a great shock. 

Castle tells the story from both sides, tracing the development of the German units involved in the raids and their British counterparts, following each raid as it approaches London and all the way home and looking at events between the raids on both sides. As a result we discover just how many aircraft the Germans lost to landing accidents and other problems close to home. Zeppelins were blown off course and interned, the Gotha bombers were very unstable when landing with low fuel and no bombs, and the 'Giant' bombers suffered their heaviest loses in a futile attempt to attack through unsuitable weather (I knew that none were shot down over Britain, but didn't realise how many were lost to other causes).

Each raid is followed in some detail, and those that caused any significant damage get virtually a 'bomb-by-bomb' narrative, supported with maps showing the locations of each bomb hit and the course of the intruders when known. Castle also looks at the casualties caused by the bombing, a reminder that these attacks largely hurt civilians.

This is a useful look at these early bombing raids, with good material from both sides of the conflict, giving an accurate picture the raids and the skill and daring involved on both sides.

The Growing Aerial Threat to London
The Zeppelin Raids - The Men That Mattered
Preparing for the Zeppelin War
The 1915 Zeppelin Raids
The 1916 Zeppelin Raids
The 1917 Zeppelin Raids
The End of the Zeppelin War
The Coming of the Bombers
The Bomber Raids - The Men That Mattered
Preparing for the Bomber Blitz
The 1917 Bomber Raids
The 1918 Bomber Raids
The Aftermath of the First Blitz

Author: Ian Castle
Edition: Paperback
Pages: 205
Publisher: Osprey
Year: 2015

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