Mass-Observation material is quoted by permission of the Trustees of the Mass Observation Archive, University of Sussex.
“Bomb Back, and Bomb Hard”: Debating Reprisals during the Blitz*
Article first published online: 10 SEP 2012
© 2012 The Author. Australian Journal of Politics and History © 2012 School of History, Philosophy, Religion and Classics, School of Political Science and International Studies, The University of Queensland and Blackwell Publishing Asia Pty Ltd.
Australian Journal of Politics & History
Special Issue: War and Peace, Barbarism and Civilization in Modern Europe and Its Empires
Volume 58, Issue 3, pages 394–407, September 2012
How to Cite
Holman, B. (2012), “Bomb Back, and Bomb Hard”: Debating Reprisals during the Blitz. Australian Journal of Politics & History, 58: 394–407. doi: 10.1111/j.1467-8497.2012.01643.x
- Issue published online: 10 SEP 2012
- Article first published online: 10 SEP 2012
In Britain, popular memory of the Blitz celebrates civilian resistance to the German bombing of London and other cities, emphasising positive values such as stoicism, humour and mutual aid. But the memory of such passive and defensive traits obscures the degree to which British civilian morale in 1940 depended on the belief that if Britain had to “take it”, then Germany was taking it as hard or harder. Contrary to the received historical account, opinion polls, Home Intelligence reports and newspaper letter columns show that a majority of the British supported the reprisal bombing of German civilians by Bomber Command. The wartime reprisals debate was the logical legacy of prewar assumptions about the overwhelming power of bombing; but it has been forgotten because it contradicts the myth of the Blitz.