Just over a decade after the Wright Brothers’ triumph of powered flight, the conduct of war was changed for ever. Until the Kaiser’s Zeppelins raided British cities and towns, it had been unthinkable that civilian populations and property hundreds of miles from the battlefield could be at risk from sudden death and destruction.
In the first section of The ‘Baby Killers’ Thomas Fegan charts the precise chronology of the air raids on Britain in this most thorough and fascinating work. From the start-point of the doom-laden prophecies of HG Wells and others, he describes the development of the German threat and the desperate search for answers to it. He analyses public reaction and assesses the effectiveness of the campaign as it progressed from airships to Gotha heavy bombers and, later, ‘Giants’.
The second part of this superbly researched book features a gazetteer to the places bombed. The extent of the list, which includes Edinburgh, Hull and Greater Manchester, will almost certainly surprise most readers. Helpfully there are also comprehensive lists of memorials and relevant museums. The ‘Baby Killers’ provides a chilling insight into an aspect of The Great War which is all too often overlooked. Yet, at the time, these raids, while modest compared with those of the Second World War Blitz, shook national
morale and instilled great fear and outrage. This is an important and highly readable work.
BABY KILLERS German Air Raids on Britain in the First World War
Air raids on British cities were a new and terrifying dimension of conflict in the First World War. At first the menace came from the Zeppelin airships, followed by the Gotha and Giant bombers. In this definitive account Thomas Fegan details the attacks, and the frantic efforts to thwart them made by the authorities . His research also recounts the effects of the raids on popular opinion, and how they were presented in propaganda.