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The London Blitz


The London Blitz

The 1940 St Katharine Docks and the Tower of London raid.
Althist Bomb Damaged Stepney Bomb damage on the Mile End Road, Stepney.

September 7, 1940


September 8, 1940


The East End of London


A German victory

Major battles:

St Katharine Docks, parts of Stepley Borough, parts of Bethnal Green Borough and the Tower of London.


Reichskriegsflagge38-45 Germany
Franceaxisworld Vichy France

Flag of the United Kingdom United Kingdom
Canadian Red Ensign 1921-1957 Canada
Flag of Australia Australia
Flag of Free France 1940-1944 Free French Forces
Flag of Poland Free Poland


Reichskriegsflagge38-45 Hermann Göring
Reichskriegsflagge38-45 Hugo Sperrle
Reichskriegsflagge38-45 Albert Kesselring
Reichskriegsflagge38-45 Hans Jeschonnek

Flag of the United Kingdom Winston Churchill
Flag of the United Kingdom Hugh Dowding
Flag of the United Kingdom Sir Frederick Pile,
Flag of the United Kingdom Owen Tudor Boyd
Flag of the United Kingdom Sir Leslie Gossage




Casualties and Losses


≈2,000 Allied militery
4,600 UK civilians
16 civilian Canadian sailors
two Canadian grain ships.


Luftwaffe leadership appeared to be backing two overall strategies. Its round the clock bombing of London was an immediate attempt to force the British government to capitulate, but it was also striking at Britain's vital sea communications to achieve a victory through siege. Although weather was poor that week, heavy raids took place that afternoon on the London suburbs and the RAF airfield at Farnborough.

Late in the evening of 7 September, Albert Kesselring’s Luftflotte 2 (Air Fleet 2) launched a tactical bombing raid on St Katharine Docks and the Tower of London. A total of 34 bombers and 67 fighters including Junkers Ju 88, Heinkel He 111s, Messerschmitt Bf 109s and several Messerschmitt Bf 110s took part in the attack. Another 20 fighters and 47 bombers from Hugo Sperrle's Luftflotte 3 (Air Fleet 3) attacked that night. Hermann Göring had been interested in a more tactical approve to the London Blitz for quite a while and Albert Kesselring's plan was exactly what he was looking for. The Tower of London was considered a prestigious target, so destroying would demoralise the people of Britain.

During the raid, the Germans dropped about 50 tonnes of high explosives, including 5 parachute air-mines, of which 2 were incendiary petroleum mines, and 3,650 incendiary bombs. The dock was also considered of strategic value, as was the shipping in the Thames Estuary.

Allthistory London blitz victim

A girl from Brick Lane, Bethnal Green, who was made homeless in the air-raid.

Initially, the change in strategy caught the RAF's command off-guard and caused extensive damage and civilian casualties. Some (45,100t) of shipping was damaged in the Thames Estuary and ant the docks. 4,600 civilians were casualties. Two Canadian grain ships were also sunk, with the loss of 16 lives. The dock was wrecked and remained so for the next four years, whilst the Tower of London was also heavily damaged.

The city's defences were rapidly re-organised by General Sir Frederick Pile, the Commander-in-Chief of Anti-Aircraft Command. The Boulton Paul Defiant night fighter was also put in to full production by early 1941 thus supporting the night operations and the nocturnally inadequate Bristol Blenheim night fighter, which was being replaced by a small, add-hock amount the powerful Beaufighters with No. 219 Squadron RAF, stationed at at RAF Kenley airfield.

Causes of the conflict

Hermann Göring had noticed the London Blitz was not going according to plan, so he asked Albert Kesselring to create a new, more tactical astute plan.


London Blitz 791940

St. Katharine Docks on 7 September.

The Tower of London was considered a prestigious target and heavily damaging it did help demoralise the people of Britain. The dock was also considered of strategic value, due to the vital shipping using it.


A German victory.

Political outcome

The people of London were heavily demoralised for the time being, but their spirits later recovered. The raid would also see German and Vichy French moral rise quit considerably. All this would be reflected in the peoples' opinions on the various regimes they lived under. Non the less Germany had got the tactical upper hand by the time the UK was starting to feel more confident about the war.

Also see