September 10

This Day in History

World War II

Sep 10, 1940:

British War Cabinet reacts to the Blitz in kind

On this day in 1940, in light of the destruction and terror inflicted on Londoners by a succession of German bombing raids, called "the Blitz," the British War Cabinet instructs British bombers over Germany to drop their bombs "anywhere" if unable to reach their targets.

The prior two nights of bombing had wrought extraordinary damage, especially in the London slum area, the East End. King George VI even visited the devastated area to reassure the inhabitants that their fellow countrymen were with them in heart and mind. Each night since the seventh, sirens had sounded to announce the approach of incoming German planes, which had begun dropping bombs indiscriminately in the London vicinity, even though the docks had been their primary target on Day One of the Blitz. As British bombers set out for Germany to retaliate, they were instructed not to return home with their bombs if they failed to locate their original targets. Instead, they were to release their loads where and when they could.

On the night of the 10th, a night when British Home Intelligence had been alerted of how panicked Londoners were becoming at the sound of those air-raid sirens, Berlin was paid in kind, with a cascade of British bombs—one of which even landed in the garden of Joseph Goebbels, the Nazi Party's minister of propaganda.

Fact Check We strive for accuracy and fairness. But if you see something that doesn't look right, contact us!

What Happened on Your Birthday?

Pick a Date

Shop HISTORY