Whoops! Germany Accidentally Bombs London In WWII

A German twin-prop Messerschmitt BF 110 bomber (the Fliegender Haifisch - Flying Shark) over the English Channel, in August of 1940. (AP Photo)

A German twin-prop Messerschmitt BF 110 bomber (the Fliegender Haifisch – Flying Shark) over the English Channel, in August of 1940. (AP Photo)

I know… when you read that headline, your first reaction is – WTF? How can you accidentally bomb London?

During the Luftschlacht um England or what every English speaker calls the Battle of Britain, Germany apparently bombed London, England. Accidentally.

The Battle of Britain began on July 1, 1940 when the Luftwaffe (German Air Force) seeking air superiority over the RAF (British Royal Air Force) began attacking convoy ships and ports before attacking airfields and aircraft manufacturing and ancillary sites.

That would be expected in a war.

But, it was when Germany tried to create disillusionment and terror by bombing the cities… well… it eventually turned the tide of the war…

  • On July 1, 1940 – German planes attacked Caithness, Scotland, bombing its aerodrome and killing 15 people;
  • July 9, 1940 – German bombers attacked factories and ironworks in Norwich, killing 27.

More and more towns along the coastal areas were attacked as part of Germany’s Operation Sealion. These were all daylight attacks….

English cities such as Southampton, Coventry, Liverpool, Wrexham, Bradford and Birmingham were attacked in various German bombing raids – but in each case, the targets were military… though civilians did get in the way…

But all that changed on August 24, 1940 when the Luftwaffe dropped bombs on central London.

Was this really Germany upping the ante by creating terror? Actually.. no…

It is now BELIEVED that the Luftwaffe accidentally released a load of bombs on Central London instead of the more important—for military reasons—docks.

Nine people were killed when the bombs hit London.

Now… keep in mind… if one is traveling all across the English channel to bomb a city in daylight… you should be able to do more damage than ‘just’ killing nine civilians… why wouldn’t you bomb Buckingham Palace or Parliament or Big Ben to cripple the British resolve?

Why indeed. Because it was an error.

Either a single plane failed to drop its load in time over the docks because of a malfunction or weather – whatever – but that single bomber obviously felt it had to drop its load and decided on its own to bomb the city of London.

It might not be an accident, but it probably was not part of Germany’s master plan at that time.

Until the London bombing on August 24, 1940… all of the deaths by German air attacks had been collateral damage during the bombing of strategic industrial targets and from bombs scattered off-target to make a hasty getaway.

By this time, these bombing runs by the Luftwaffe had actually killed over 1,000 civilians.

But this… this unprecedented attack on a civilian center… well… Germany poked the bear.

Come back tomorrow to see what response the British had.

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About mreman47

Andrew was born in London, UK, raised in Toronto, Canada, and cavorted in Ohtawara, Japan for three years. He is married, has a son and a cat. He has over 35,000 comic books and a plethora of pioneer aviation-related tobacco and sports cards and likes to build LEGO dioramas. Along with writing for a monthly industrial magazine, he also writes comic books and hates writing in the 3rd person. He also hates having to write this crap that no one will ever read. Along with the daily Japan - It's A Wonderful Rife blog, when he feels the hate, will also write another blog entitled: You Know What I Hate? He also works on his Pioneers Of Aviation - a cool blog on early fliers. He also wants to do more writing - for money, though. Help him out so he can stop talking in the 3rd person.
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4 Responses to Whoops! Germany Accidentally Bombs London In WWII

  1. Anakin Luka says:

    did a german plane really get lost and bomb london or did bomber & fighter command intentionally bomb berlin to make germany respond to begin bombing british cities en mass to alleviate attacks from british airfields

    • mreman47 says:

      Alas, I have no way of knowing… it’s an interesting question though. England would have to be pretty damn cold, however, to try and instigate a plan to make the enemy bomb their cities on purpose. Maybe it was tit-for-tat… but even then, it could never be a plan to stop the enemy from bombing airfields.
      There is no evidence to support it… unless you have heard something I haven’t from a reliable source?

  2. Brian Smith says:

    My father lived in South London at that time and worked at The Admiralty. His father was killed by one of the off-target bombs during a daylight raid on Croydon Aerodrome. He has written about the occasion and you can read his account of it here:
    http://www.briansmithonline.com/memoirs/chapter-8.html
    (Scroll down to “A Personal Tragedy” although I think you’ll find the whole chapter interesting).

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