Hitting them where it hurts

Targeting an enemy country’s infrastructure is a legitimate and intelligent tactic during war. Smashing their factories affects the ability to wage war; Destroying their rail links hampers the movement of weapons and supplies around the country.

A breached dam.

A broken bridge.

Powerlines torn down.

Roads impassable due to bomb craters.

Not only does such destruction require material and financial investment to repair, but it also needs manpower – manpower that might be better used elsewhere.

And the productivity of the country will also be affected if the workforce is severely delayed in their journey – or can’t get to work at all.

It all adds up over days and weeks and months and in a worst-case scenario, can lead to the complete collapse of a country.  

Luftwaffe bombs have inflicted serious damage on this stretch of Coventry railway.


It was the tangible destruction that many spectators found most startling as they emerged from the shelters, crept out from under the stairs, or stopped in a macabre moment on their way to work to stare at a bombsite.

The devastation of well-known structures, according to Alan Seymour, a funeral van driver in London, was what the Blitz most profoundly affected him with: "It seemed incredible that so much harm could be done in such little time... One is left with a terrible sense of instability as they witness the product of years of labour being swept away in an instant."

The support system for daily life could take a serious beating. Road and railroad bridges were demolished, and streets were obstructed by debris and broken water mains. People needed the money and wanted to work — separate from any patriotic motivations — but it was difficult for them to travel to factories that might have been damaged. In addition to removing the landmarks that had helped people navigate their daily lives, wrecked bakeries, grocers, and bars jeopardised supplies of food, cigarettes, and beer.

With petrol and diesel scarce buses ran on hydrogen and a mix of other gases created by a coal burning generator towed behind. This was known as "Producer Gas".


London was well able to resist this kind of physical devastation despite concerns about the population's susceptibility; the intricacy of the city's networks proved flexible and resilient. The destruction of key shopping districts in smaller cities made it more difficult to continue living. It was similar in many other large UK cities which bore similar hallmarks to those of the capital. Smaller towns and villages though, whilst less likely to be hit due to them not being as tempting targets, were less able to cope should they fall victim to Luftwaffe bombs.

Further reading