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Why did Germany stop the Blitz on Britain?

Discussion in 'Air War in Western Europe 1939 - 1945' started by Poppy, Sep 19, 2010.

  1. Poppy

    Poppy grasshopper

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    I have always thought the main reason was that Germany stopped the attacks on the airfields and radar stations, then bombing cities....Bill Gunston wrote that Beaufighters equipped with Al MKlV radar were "a major reason for the Luftwaffe giving up on the blitz". What were the reasons for Germany canceling the blitz?
     
  2. Martin Bull

    Martin Bull Acting Wg. Cdr Patron  

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    I think there's a confusion of 'blitzes' here. The Luftwaffe would hardly have given up daylight attacks on airfields due to British nightfighter operations.....
     
  3. Spartanroller

    Spartanroller Ace

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    I understood it to be purely a decision made by Hitler as a result of the RAF bombing raids on Berlin, but that might be folklore.
     
  4. urqh

    urqh Tea drinking surrender monkey

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    Poppy Martins yer man on this. But as to your radar link..Look up GCI on the net for RAF nightfighting.
     
  5. Falcon Jun

    Falcon Jun Ace

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    Simply put, Germany couldn't sustain its losses. It's true the Germans were inflicting damage on Britain's infrastructure, however, Germany couldn't easily replace shot down German pilots. As for the RAF pilots, those who survive getting shot down are usually back in their squadrons.
    Note that for Germany to avoid such pilot losses, the V1 and V2 came into being. Another thing is that the Luftwaffe was slowly being overstretched.
    As for Hitler deciding on concentrating on London, it was more of a knee jerk political decision and when he made it, he couldn't rescind it without losing face.
     
  6. Spartanroller

    Spartanroller Ace

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    There was also the factor of needing to switch Luftwaffe resources to Russia.
     
  7. Poppy

    Poppy grasshopper

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    Good day sirs..I'm sure there were many factors. The largest reason I was taught was that Germany switched concentrated attacks from British airfields to cities in response to British bombing of German cities. This allowed the tired Allied pilots time to regenerate and repair. ....Surprised that, with all that hung in the balance, Hitler's unwillingness to change one of his orders ( to switch back to bombing airfields ) just to save face.
    I was unaware there were more than 1 "Blitz". Perhaps I've misunderstood Mr Gunston's assertions regarding the importance of the radar equipped Beaufighters during the Blitz... .
     
  8. brndirt1

    brndirt1 Saddle Tramp

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    I think the mistake (if it was made), was the Luftwaffe bombing London in error when they got lost and dropped their bombs on London. This precipitated the RAF bombing the German cities in response, and from that moment on it was "game on".

    Of course the Luftwaffe had bombed Rotterdam after it surrendered (in error) and Ireland (in error) while Eire was neutral and Northern Ireland was unbombed. The only problem or mistake made (to my mind) was not continuing the attempts at least to knock out "Chain Home". It is unlikely the Luftwaffe could have really broken the entire system, but turning to city bombing wasn't the answer either.

    Bombing the airstrips was really a rather thankless task, they weren't "hard-surfaced" airports as we think of them today, but grass pastures with individual revetments for the planes to keep the bombing or straeffing (sp?) of one from spreading to the next plane. The Luftwaffe wasn't going to take out the airfields, nor the parked planes, nor the Chain Home, nor dampen the British "spirit".

    It was a lost cause and non-sustainable in aircraft and pilot loss, and without it succeeding, no Sea Lion was possible either. I think the idea of "two Blitz" attacks comes from the abandonment of the day-light raids and switching to mostly night-time only on cities and factories, is the split here.
     
  9. Spartanroller

    Spartanroller Ace

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    There were also a couple of short periods of bombing during 1942 and 1943 and then the V-weapons (particularly the V2) in 1944. Each of these separate small campaigns is often referred to as a Blitz, so by some versions you could say there were 2-8 UK Blitzes.

    Approximate timeline;

    Attacks on shipping and ports July 1940
    Attacks on RAF airfields/radars etc August 1940
    True Blitz (attacks on cities) Sep 1940
    Switch back to ports and navy related targets Feb -May 1941
    April-May 1942 Baedaeker raids
    Dec 1943-Jan 1944 'Baby Blitz' back on London and similar targets
    V1 attacks Jun-Sep 1944
    V2 attacks Sep 1944 - Mar 1945

    So depending whether you like the term Blitz for any of these sets of raids or not, it is arguable that the Blitz didn't stop until early 1945 although 1942 and 43 were relatively 'quiet'.

    I'm sure there are many different opinions as to what actually constituted 'the Blitz'

    :)
     
  10. Poppy

    Poppy grasshopper

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    Thank you Nigel...I had thought the Blitz was any German air attack on English cities before Sea Lion was terminated. You summed it up well.
     
  11. Spartanroller

    Spartanroller Ace

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    Actually Poppy I think your summation is probably closer to my own opinion and much more succinct - City attacks based on population rather than facilities and up to the Sealion cancellation/ Barbarossa start is a good period to call the Blitz so Sep 40 - May 41 (or maybe Feb 41).

    Only problem with defining the end of the Blitz by the cancellation of operation Sealion is that then you are left with the reason for the Blitz ending being that Sealion was cancelled and not the other way round, and in fact the city bombings were barely related to the viability of Sealion.

    - personally I believe that even if the German losses were not so bad, even if the nightfighters and radar AA guns were not getting so effective, the blitz would still have been cancelled in order to have the planes, pilots etc. available to invade Russia - I doubt if that would have been delayed for another year in 1941 even if the blitz was going well - fundamentally the 'true Blitz' had little direct military value - certainly no major change to the viability of Op Sealion, which depended on air superiority and the availability of german heavy navy units (also another big debate i'll probably regret).
     
  12. TiredOldSoldier

    TiredOldSoldier Ace

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    I would add the hit and run fighter bomber raids to the 8 campaigns, but if we consider the late 1940 one as the true "blitz" AFAIK the reason was the Sea Lion cancellation due to the failure to achieve air superiority within the good weaher period. The switch to city bombing was a knee jerk reaction to the bombing of Berlin and doomed the offensive, pilot fatigue was the weakest link in the defence, but it's far from sure they would have broken the RAF even if they had stuck to the airfields, the German superiority in numbers was more than offset by the British advantage of recovering most shot down pilots and crews and the unsuitability to the task of most of the German planes that were designed with very different operations in mind.
     
  13. Martin Bull

    Martin Bull Acting Wg. Cdr Patron  

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    The decision to turn away from airfield attacks to the bombing of London was for years presented as a 'Fuhrer tantrum' over tit-for-tat bombing, etc. There was an element of this but Hitler's main contribution was to lift a ban on the concentrated bombing of London's population.

    The main tension over the Luftwaffe's strategy was between Sperrle and Kesselring : the latter ( rightly ) was frustrated that the RAF were not being destroyed quickly enough and ( wrongly ) believed that the answer lay in the daylight bombing of London. In this case, he reasoned, the entire RAF fighter force would be forced into the air to defend the population and would be hacked down by Luftwaffe fighters.Kesselring successfully promoted his view at a conference arranged by Goering in The Hague on September 3rd, 1940.

    As we now know, it didn't work out that way.

    Daytime bomber losses were unsustainable and, by the time the night-time 'Blitz' got underway, the Battle of Britain was effectively lost.

    'Blitz' is a confusing term ; the initiation of the BofB fits with the Germans' Blitzkrieg style of warfare. The night 'Blitz' doesn't, really - but to the population of Britain ( especially those who were actually there and lived through the experience ) The Blitz was the night bombing campaign of Winter '40/'41, ceasing in May 1941 due to the impending invasion of Russia.....

    ( Most of the above thoughts have come through my reading of Stephen Bungay's 'The Most Dangerous Enemy', widely regarded as currently the most definitive account of the battle ).
     
    DT1991, Poppy, LJAd and 2 others like this.
  14. Spartanroller

    Spartanroller Ace

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    Perhaps I should add to my earlier posts that by 'True Blitz' I refer to the period so named by the population of London, rather than the earlier period most closely related to Blitzkrieg tactics and strategy but it nicely brings up another reason for the confusion over terminology.
     
  15. Poppy

    Poppy grasshopper

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    I see Mr Bull has his rep points turned off. I imagine they must become heavy....What a pleasure to have him expound on world events that have had such an impact on my world.
     
  16. Nicnac

    Nicnac Member

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    If I can go back to the original question in its basic form. One could also say that Germany saw no negligible benefit to continuing to do major bombing runs over Britain.

    As they did in Russia, plans called for quick success (the surrender of the enemy), and that just didn't materialize. Churchill was correct in that all his people had to do was persevere.

    There is an interesting anecdote that while England thought German zeal, perseverance, planes, and pilots were endless, Germany thought exactly the opposite of England. So, while the British were wondering how long they could possibly hold on against an endless barrage, Germany expected surrender at any time.

    What others have said here, of course, are also parts of the issue, the need to divert resources to the Eastern Front, and cutting down losses of experienced fliers and their planes etc.
     
  17. Poppy

    Poppy grasshopper

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    Thank you Nic...I looked up dichotomy...Not sure if that applies to the above.. Interesting to see how both sides viewed that period.
     
  18. phylo_roadking

    phylo_roadking Member

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    Depends on WHO in Germany! ;) John Ray notes that as late as late 1942 the Luftwaffe were certainly still lecturing officers on strategic bombing policies and tactics against Britain - and the range of actions against Britain from then on right up to the end of 1944 shows that they were STILL attempting to put them into practice to some degree.

    It's worth noting that Luftwaffe bombing against Britain never really stopped outside of those high points; almost daily there were limited "intruder"-level ops against coastal targets and towns by Jabo Me109s etc. What stopped the Luftwaffe was them being physically driven back across Western Europe out of range of the UK.
     
  19. JBark

    JBark Member

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    Just started The Air War 1939-45 by Overly and have just covered the BoB. In his view it was a lost effort for Germany from the beginning. Britain probably had been the only country to really develope their air force appropriately. They correctly predicted what the future held for Britain. They developed their radar, communications and control to defend the island against this very threat. Germany had not truly developed a strategic bomber force which is what they needed to do this job. Their fighters were not designed for bomber protection and Britain was capable of out producing Germany to recover losses. Essentially Germany made an effort at wiping the RAF out of the sky for Sealion and when reality sank in that they could never accomplish what they started out for they backed off. He points out that Goering was getting some really bad intel from his chief of intel, Josef Schmid. The incorrect intel helped the fatman be even more overconfident in what the Luftwaffe could accomplish. When the losses piled up that spelled the end.
     
  20. phylo_roadking

    phylo_roadking Member

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    ...really develop their defensive capability appropriately ;) Bpmber COmmand was woefully under developed at this point - in fact, there had been a REAL one-year halt in development of BC as a result of Munich in 1938....the "Moritorium"...after the Air Staff said that at that point (1938) they couldn;t defend the UK Home Base. the Air Plan hadn't advanced far enough yet. So the Cabinet stopped BC development and ploughed everything into Fighter Command.

    No Blenheim replacement, no Fairey Battle replacement, short on multi-engined trainers (they were still in early 1940 planning to buy Capronis from ITALY for this!), BC's Wellingtons suffered over the North Sea in 1939 for want of armour and selfsealing tanks, no replacement for the Hampden - even nightflying/navigation training for BC only began in the summer of 1939!
     

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