The British army used heavy artillery to kill thousands of Londoners in the early 1940s

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wm
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The British army used heavy artillery to kill thousands of Londoners in the early 1940s

Post by wm » 02 Feb 2023 16:59

Between 1940 and 1944, tens of thousands of people living in London and other British cities were killed by artillery shells fired by their own army, in an effort to prevent them fleeing their homes.
True of false?


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Re: The British army used heavy artillery to kill thousands of Londoners in the early 1940s

Post by Richard Anderson » 02 Feb 2023 17:55

Bovine excrement of the highest degree.
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Re: The British army used heavy artillery to kill thousands of Londoners in the early 1940s

Post by EwenS » 02 Feb 2023 19:09

wm wrote:
02 Feb 2023 16:59
Between 1940 and 1944, tens of thousands of people living in London and other British cities were killed by artillery shells fired by their own army, in an effort to prevent them fleeing their homes.
True of false?



He has written a book and had articles published on this subject.
https://www.historyhit.com/how-thousand ... don-blitz/

Whether the death toll from "friendly fire" was as high as he states I don't know. Undoubtedly some were killed in this way. The video is woven around facts, albeit exaggerated in some cases. The populations of towns and cities that were badly blitzed did however move out into the countryside and surrounding towns and villages. Morale was affected. Industrial production was affected.

I also think he exaggerates the numbers of AA guns deployed in the main Blitz years. There is a website detailing all the WW2 gunsites in Britain. Each would generally have had 4 guns. Many batteries were placed in open countryside so as to hit bombers on the approaches to the targets the guns were defending, and not directly over the targets themselves.
https://www.anti-aircraft.co.uk/HAA_gun_sites_map.html

What goes up must come down. Fuses didn't always work as designed. Shells didn't always explode (But if it didn't explode in the air just how likely is it that they would explode on hitting the ground). Yes not everyone went to a public air raid shelter. But they hid in cellars, under stairs and in Anderson Shelters in their back gardens, so were not completely unprotected from the falling debris. A few brave souls did venture out, but not the general population. But the idea that some mentally defective soldier was individually computing how to set the time on each shell is BS. And the shells themselves carried little explosive compared to the contents of the bombs being dropped by the enemy. It was the bombs that collapsed houses and tenements, telling and killing people within them.

As for the picture right at the start of the video to which he refers, it was a 5.25" twin turret as mounted in the King George V class battleships and Dido class cruisers. 3 spare turrets were given to the Army in 1942, one of which was installed at Primrose Hill. Prior to that the RN had none to spare. In fact in 1940 they were short of such mounts. None were removed from ships forvtgeee batteries.

The Army developed its own single 5.25" mounts but by the end of 1943 only 16 had been built. Can still be seen in Gibraltar. The shell weight was 80 lbs. But these were the largest guns deployed. Most of the heavy guns were 3.7" firing 28lb shells.

And if so many Britons were killed in this way, just think how badly the German population suffered from their own guns.

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Re: The British army used heavy artillery to kill thousands of Londoners in the early 1940s

Post by Steen Ammentorp » 02 Feb 2023 20:43

wm wrote:
02 Feb 2023 16:59
Between 1940 and 1944, tens of thousands of people living in London and other British cities were killed by artillery shells fired by their own army, in an effort to prevent them fleeing their homes.
True of false?
Once this forum operated by the principles that “information not shared is lost” nowadays it is practically “everything shared, and knowledge is gone” :(
Kind Regards
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Richard Anderson
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Re: The British army used heavy artillery to kill thousands of Londoners in the early 1940s

Post by Richard Anderson » 02 Feb 2023 20:55

Steen Ammentorp wrote:
02 Feb 2023 20:43
wm wrote:
02 Feb 2023 16:59
Between 1940 and 1944, tens of thousands of people living in London and other British cities were killed by artillery shells fired by their own army, in an effort to prevent them fleeing their homes.
True of false?
Once this forum operated by the principles that “information not shared is lost” nowadays it is practically “everything shared, and knowledge is gone” :(
:welcome: New and Improved!
"Is all this pretentious pseudo intellectual citing of sources REALLY necessary? It gets in the way of a good, spirited debate, destroys the cadence." POD, 6 October 2018

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Re: The British army used heavy artillery to kill thousands of Londoners in the early 1940s

Post by wm » 02 Feb 2023 20:59

The London Blitz and the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor are iconic myths for Britain and America. Few in either nation realise, however, that these artfully constructed narratives of heroic resistance to aerial bombardment both conceal appalling massacres of their own citizens. In Britain, thousands of civilians were killed when the army shelled London and other cities in an effort to prevent those living there from fleeing the German bombs.
At Pearl Harbor, American warships fired their heavy guns at the city of Honolulu, with devastating results.
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Re: The British army used heavy artillery to kill thousands of Londoners in the early 1940s

Post by hucks216 » 03 Feb 2023 10:48

Just because a book has been published doesn't make it true.

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Re: The British army used heavy artillery to kill thousands of Londoners in the early 1940s

Post by Felix C » 03 Feb 2023 22:36

Pen & Sword do clunkers now and then.

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Re: The British army used heavy artillery to kill thousands of Londoners in the early 1940s

Post by mil-archive » 04 Feb 2023 03:31

I watch that channel from time to time. Even spoken to the author once when he used one of my images as a thumbnail. His content is usually at least interesting but I think the way this is worded here is not helpful:
Between 1940 and 1944, tens of thousands of people living in London and other British cities were killed by artillery shells fired by their own army, in an effort to prevent them fleeing their homes.
The goal was damage LW capability and reduce casualties & property damage.

How vital in that mix was the goal of 'reducing the reasons why civilians might otherwise evacuate from heavily targeted cities' is hard to tell. I don't see this as the primary goal or even a significant part of it.

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Re: The British army used heavy artillery to kill thousands of Londoners in the early 1940s

Post by Knouterer » 04 Feb 2023 12:02

So the authorities organized mass evacuations of children from London, then shelled their parents to keep them there? Utter nonsense, even apart from the fact that shelling people would normally cause them to flee rather than stay.

And what does the author have to say about all those artillerymen ordered to shell civilians, which would in many cases include their own families, considering they were mostly Territorials? They had no problem with it?

What next? The German long-range guns shelling Dover were actually British and had been secretly installed before the war?
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Re: The British army used heavy artillery to kill thousands of Londoners in the early 1940s

Post by wm » 04 Feb 2023 12:36

There has never been any dispute about the fact that more British civilians were killed by the artillery than German aircrew. The estimates range from perhaps 10 percent to as many as 50 percent of the deaths on the ground during air raids being the result of British forces, rather than the Germans.

This latter figure was one favored by the men working frantically on the development of the proximity fuze, which would ensure that a shell exploded only when it was near enough to an aeroplane to cause serious damage to it. A scientist working on this idea at the Cavendish Laboratories calculated that half the time-fuzes used in anti-aircraft shells were defective and that as a result, they might be killing at least as many people during an air raid as were dying from the German bombs.

If this figure were to be true, then it would mean that British anti-aircraft artillery was directly responsible for the death of over 26,000 civilians in Britain during the course of the Second World War.
Secret Casualties of World War Two: Uncovering the Civilian Deaths from Friendly Fire by Simon Webb

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Re: The British army used heavy artillery to kill thousands of Londoners in the early 1940s

Post by Sheldrake » 04 Feb 2023 13:08

wm wrote:
02 Feb 2023 16:59
Between 1940 and 1944, tens of thousands of people living in London and other British cities were killed by artillery shells fired by their own army, in an effort to prevent them fleeing their homes.
True of false?

Misleading half truth at best

It is true that large fragments and unexploded AA HE rounds were a hazard to unprotected people on the ground. One of the most famous casualties was General Brian Horrocks who was badly wounded by (un) friendly fire while watching an air raid over Bizerta in June 1943. This is why civilians were supposed to be under cover in air raid shelters while those in the open such as members of the armed forces, police, fire and civil defence organisations were issued steel helmets. This was true of the Germans as well as the British.

Some Londoners did abandon the city to camp in the countryside, mainly in 1944 from the V1 Threat. There was also some who fled other frequently raided cities such as Southampton. There was nothing to stop them fleeing after raids had ended.

Light AA weapons posed a signifricant risk as well. The 40mm Bofors and the Germans 3.7cm and 2 CM Fl;ak 30 had a self destruct round which turned the round into tingy fragments after a set time. These are the black puffs of flak you see in low level bombing raids. The 20mm Oerlikon used by Allied navies and some British units did not. Nor did the 0.5 calibre Machine gun favoured by the US These posed a significant danger at some didtance from the firer. The 0.5 cal has a ground range of 5 km,. Avery 0.5 inch or 20mm round that missed its target aircraft will cause havoc somewhere 5-10km away. The navy was OK with this on the principle of "Big ocean: Small ships". This was not so on land where operations could take place in a constricted space such as the Normandy beachhead, and the Division next door might take exception to its troops and facilities being brassed up everytime there was an air alert next door. Only grown ups were allowed to play with light AA and their use was restricted to units that were under the tight control of AA Command and control. This is whiy all those SP AA troops in UK tank regiments and the 0.5 cal MGs on US tanks were ineffective in the AA role.

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Re: The British army used heavy artillery to kill thousands of Londoners in the early 1940s

Post by Sheldrake » 04 Feb 2023 13:14

Sheldrake wrote:
04 Feb 2023 13:08
wm wrote:
02 Feb 2023 16:59
Between 1940 and 1944, tens of thousands of people living in London and other British cities were killed by artillery shells fired by their own army, in an effort to prevent them fleeing their homes.
True of false?

Misleading half truth at best

It is true that large fragments and unexploded AA HE rounds were a hazard to unprotected people on the ground. One of the most famous casualties was General Brian Horrocks who was badly wounded by (un) friendly fire while watching an air raid over Bizerta in June 1943. This is why civilians were supposed to be under cover in air raid shelters while those in the open such as members of the armed forces, police, fire and civil defence organisations were issued steel helmets. This was true of the Germans as well as the British.

Some Londoners did abandon the city to camp in the countryside, mainly in 1944 from the V1 Threat. There was also some who fled other frequently raided cities such as Southampton. There was nothing to stop them fleeing after raids had ended.

Light AA weapons posed a significant risk as well. The 40mm Bofors and the Germans 3.7cm and 2 CM Flak 30 had a self destruct round which turned the round into tiny fragments after a set time. These are the black puffs of flak you see in low level bombing raids. The 20mm Oerlikon used by Allied navies and some British units did not. Nor did the 0.5 calibre Machine gun favoured by the US These posed a significant danger at some distance from the firer. The 0.5 cal has a ground range of 5 km,. Avery 0.5 inch or 20mm round that missed its target aircraft will cause havoc somewhere 5-10km away. The navy was OK with this on the principle of "Big ocean: Small ships". This was not so on land where operations could take place in a constricted space such as the Normandy beachhead, and the Division next door might take exception to its troops and facilities being brassed up every time there was an air alert next door. Only grown ups were allowed to play with light AA and their use was restricted to units that were under the tight control of AA Command and control and could be trusted to follow arcs of engagement. This is why one reason why all those SP AA troops in UK tank regiments and the 0.5 cal MGs on US tanks were largely unused in the AA role.

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Re: The British army used heavy artillery to kill thousands of Londoners in the early 1940s

Post by reedwh52 » 05 Feb 2023 03:59

At Pearl Harbor, American warships fired their heavy guns at the city of Honolulu, with devastating results.
False.

At Pearl Harbor, civilian casualties were caused by shells fired at aircraft attacking USN ships and from Japanese fire/bombs. Most of the 68 killed and 35 wounded were the result of anti-aircraft shells which detonated on hitting the ground.

None were the result of the Navy (or Army) having "fired their heavy guns at the city of Honolulu" having firing at Honolulu.

And for the UK deaths-the claim is that 10% to as much as 50% of casualties were the result of AA ammunition failures. Absent better data, that range of error would make almost any evaluation inherently subjective to the prejudices of the writer

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Re: The British army used heavy artillery to kill thousands of Londoners in the early 1940s

Post by hucks216 » 05 Feb 2023 10:38

"There has never been any dispute about the fact that more British civilians were killed by the artillery than German aircrew. The estimates range from perhaps 10 percent to as many as 50 percent of the deaths on the ground during air raids being the result of British forces, rather than the Germans."

How does this even get published? It refutes itself within the space of a sentence - states that there is no dispute that more civilians were killed by British artillery than the Germans but then gives a starting figure of 10% which would mean 90% were killed by the Germans (and 20%:80%, 30%:70% and so on).

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