Target London: Bombing the Capital 1915-2005, Peter Reese

Target London: Bombing the Capital 1915-2005, Peter Reese

This book falls into three main sections. The first looks at the small scale German bombing campaigns of the First World War, starting with the Zeppelins and moving on to the Gothas and other large bombers.

There is an interesting focus on the size of London and the relative ability of each form of attack to do real damage to the city. By this reckoning only the German bombing of the Second World War came close, and even there the limited capacity of the Luftwaffe's medium bombers restricted their ability to inflict critical damage on the vast city. Of more significance has been the public reaction to each wave of attacks, with the original Zeppelin raids perhaps have the biggest impact, coming as they did after hundreds of years without an attack on the city.

The book is very well balanced, looking at the attackers, defenders and inhabitants of London. The sections on the Zeppelin and Gotha attacks on London were of particular interest to me, looking at the German units and individuals who carried out the raids, often at a heavy cost. The material on the Second World War is equally good if more familiar, while the scale of the IRA campaigns came as something of a surprise. There are also valuable sections on the public reaction to each wave of attacks - here the section on the First World War relies on the least data, the Second World War saw serious attempts to judge the public mood and the reaction to more recent attacks is increasingly well documented.

This is an interesting look at a rather mournful topic - nearly a century of attacks on London after centuries of peace.

Part 1 - Attacks During the First World War
1 - The Zeppelin Onslaught
2 - The Gothas Take Over
3 - The City's Defenders
4 - London's Home Front, 1914-1918

Part 2 - Between the Wars
5 - The British Air Service - The Locust Years

Part 3 - Attacks During the Second World War
6 - Renewed Air Assaults
7 - The London Blitz, 1940-1 - Ground and Air Defenders
8 - The London Blitz, 1940-1 - Civil Defenders
9 - The London Blitz, 1940-1 - Home Morale
10 - London and the Doodlebugs
11 - London and the V2s

Part 4 - Terrorist Attack
12 - The IRA
13 - Al-Qaeda

Author: Peter Reese
Edition: Hardcover
Pages: 240
Publisher: Pen & Sword Military
Year: 2011

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