Tag Archives: luftwaffe

History

The Terror of the Heinkel Bombers

The Heinkel He 111 was a German aircraft designed by Siegfried and Walter Günter in the early 1930s in direct violation of the Treaty of Versailles.  Often described as a “wolf in sheep’s clothing“, it masqueraded as a transport aircraft, but its purpose was to provide the Luftwaffe with a fast medium bomber.

heinkel bomber

Perhaps the best-recognised german bomber due to its distinctive “greenhouse” nose, the Heinkel was the most numerous and the primary Luftwaffe bomber during the early stages of World War II, until the dog fights of the Battle of Britain exposed its weaknesses; its poor maneuverability, weak defensive armament and relatively low speed.  Sadly, there were too few fighter planes available to defend Liverpool in the air and so the Heinkel bombers were free to undertake the intense attack on the city in May 1941 with little risk of interference from the RAF…

681 Luftwaffe Heinkel and Dornier bombers took part in the May Blitz on Liverpool; 2,315 high explosive bombs and 119 other explosives such as incendiaries were dropped indiscriminately on factories, ships, offices, warehouses, schools, businesses and homes.

History

The Sound of the Air Raid Siren

Air raid sirens first sounded the warning in London in September 1939 shortly after the outbreak of war with Germany.  During the May Blitz of 1941, the frightening sound of the air raid siren could be heard across Liverpool several times each day.

world war II air raid poster

The “Carter” air raid siren, manufactured by Gents of Leicestershire was used exclusively in Britain throughout World War II.  The sirens made a very loud and long signal or warning sound. For an alert, the siren sound pitch rose and fell alternately, whereas the “All Clear” was a continuous sound from the siren.

When people heard the siren they would stop what they were doing and make for shelter.  Shelters varied from underground stations, to smaller prefabricated Anderson and Morrison shelters.  If the bombing seemed light, many people preferred to stay in their homes under the stairs.  Government warning messages describing how best to react if the siren sounds, were broadcasted to the general public over the wireless and at the pictures.

Volunteer air raid precaution (ARP) wardens would protect civilians from the danger of air-raids as much as possible during a bomb attack; directing people to the nearest shelter and using their knowledge of the local area to help find and reunite family members who had been separated in the mad rush to escape the bombing.