The author has provided the most definitive account of this first use of terror bombing on civilians, after extensive research over several years. This is an important work because it covers a critical development path for aviation and was a major justification in forming the RAF to return the compliment.
NAME: The First Blitz, The German Air Campaign Against Britain 1917-1918
CLASSIFICATION: Book Reviews
AUTHOR: Andrew P Hyde
PUBLISHER: Pen & Sword
BINDING: soft back
GENRE: Non Fiction
SUBJECT: Terror bombing, airships, long range bombers, civilian casualties, aerial bombs, Zepplin, Gotha
DESCRIPTION: Having pioneered the use of anti-aircraft guns in an attempt to kill French politicians and civilians who were trying to escape from Paris by balloon during the Franco Prussian War, The Germans pioneered aerial terror raids on civilians in Britain during WWI. Airships and heavier-than-air biplanes were used to bomb schools, hospitals, and housing in British cities.
These attacks caused hundreds of deaths and injuries. Gotha biplanes were flown against British cities but much of the campaign depended on the use of rigid and semi-rigid airships, which were initially difficult for the Royal Naval Air Service to counter. This difficulty was a combination of factors. Early on, RNAS fighters had to struggle to reach the operating altitude of Zeppelins and the machine gun was surprisingly ineffective in attacking a rigid airship. What proved a more effective weapon was the anti-Zeppelin bomb, which required the fighter to gain height above the airship. An added difficulty was that an airship could operate in cloud and flog conditions that prevented fighters taking off to attack. One method used by Zeppelins to operate in cloud cover was to lower an observer through the cloud in capsule, communicating with the airship by telephone.
The author has provided the most definitive account of this first use of terror bombing on civilians, after extensive research over several years. This is an important work because it covers a critical development path for aviation and was a major justification in forming the RAF to return the compliment. When WWII opened, both the British and the Germans used lessons from this first blitz to conduct the 1939-1945 air war. Happy to terrorise others, the Germans suffered an acute sense of humour failure when the British turned the techniques on German cities, particularly during WWII when round the clock bombing enabled the Allies to create fire storms that destroyed cities very effectively.