The British Bombing of Europe 1939–41

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Map Code: Ax01627

At the beginning of the war, the British and German administrations alike were opposed to the bombing of civilian targets, instead restricting bombing runs to important military targets. As the war progressed and the war efforts of both sides increased to keep up with the demands of increasingly pervasive fighting across the continent, the restrictions on bombing campaigns were relaxed. Industrial targets began to be targeted by the British after the Luftwaffe carried out a large-scale bombing campaign on the centre of Rotterdam on 14 May 1940. Bombing runs on a number of industrial targets across Germany, in particular the Ruhr industrial heartland were approved and, although it was accepted that some civilian casualties were inevitable, poor bombing accuracy meant that the civilian death toll was high. Allied bombing of German cities increased massively from September 1940, following the onslaught of the ‘Blitz’ on English cities.

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