Although more than 40,000 civilians throughout the United Kingdom were killed during the 8-month Blitz of 1940-1941, the campaign was ultimately a failure for the Luftwaffe. The Blitz cost the Germans thousands of costly aircraft and even more highly trained pilots and other personnel.
Painting by William H. Bond, National Geographic

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  • On September 7, 1940, Germany began its blitzkrieg bombing campaign in London, England. The Nazi blitzkrieg, or “lightning war,” was a new offensive tactic that blanketed civilian and industrial targets throughout the United Kingdom with explosives.
    The Blitz that hit London came in two waves. The first included about 300 aircraft dropping bombs for about an hour and a half. The second wave, a nighttime campaign, lasted eight hours, “shaking the city with the deafening noise of hundreds of bombs falling so close together there was hardly a pause between them,” according to the BBC.
    The Blitz lasted less than a year, claiming the lives of about 43,000 civilians. Still, the campaign was ultimately a failure for the Luftwaffe, the powerful air force of Nazi Germany. More than 2,200 Luftwaffe aircraft and hundreds of experienced crews were lost in the campaign, while British morale or war production never really ceased.
  • Term Part of Speech Definition Encyclopedic Entry
    aircraft Noun

    vehicle able to travel and operate above the ground.

    BBC adjective, noun

    (British Broadcasting Corporation) semi-autonomous British public-service broadcaster.

    blanket Verb

    to cover entirely.

    Blitz Noun

    (1940-1941) nighttime bombing campaign of industrial and civilian targets in cities throughout the United Kingdom by Nazi Germany.

    blitzkrieg Noun

    quick, overwhelming attack.

    bomb Noun

    explosive device, usually a projectile.

    campaign Noun

    activities designed to achieve a social, political, or military goal.

    cease Verb

    to stop or end.

    city Noun

    large settlement with a high population density.

    civilian Noun

    person who is not in the military.

    deafening Adjective

    very loud.

    explosive Noun

    material that can quickly and violently expand due to a chemical change.

    failure Noun

    lack of success.

    industrial Adjective

    having to do with factories or mechanical production.

    Luftwaffe Noun

    (1935-1945) German air force during World War II.

    morale Noun

    emotional or psychological condition of a person or group of people.

    Nazi noun, adjective

    (1919-1945) (Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei) having to do with the National Socialist German Workers' Party.

    offensive Adjective

    invading or attacking, not defending.

    tactic Noun

    procedure or method for accomplishing a goal.