History never repeats

Daily Mirror, 29 August 1940, 4

But sometimes, it rhymes.

The above map, accompanying an article entitled 'BOMB THESE TEN TOWNS!', was published on page 4 of the Daily Mirror on 29 August 1940. It rhymes with this map published in the Daily Mail twenty-three years before:

Daily Mail, 15 June 1917, 6

A REPRISAL MAP. -- The shaded parts of this map show those parts of Germany within reach of Allied aeroplanes similar to those used against London. All the large towns shown could be attacked.

So too does this, the cover of the Illustrated London News for 21 September 1940...

Illustrated London News, 21 September 1940, 357


... rhyme with these photographs in the Daily Mail of 15 June 1917:

Daily Mail, 15 June 1917, 6

Four of the little sufferers in an East End hospital yesterday. Three are only five years of age; the fourth is ten. All were badly injured in the head, arms and legs while in a London County Council school in a densely populated district. All that was left of their classroom was a mass of blood-spattered debris.

And this scare in February 1940...

Mr Mitchell returned at 2.50 saying that Mr Moffat had told him that he had been told by the porter at Dunblane station this morning that the officials at Fife had told him to beware of what appear to be children's balloons. These balloons are full of poison gas. Anyone seeing one should refrain from touching it, but should call a policeman instead.

I said I thought the Germans would hesitate to use such a method, because the direction of the wind is west to east and we could so easily retaliate, and there was a risk that their own balloons would blow back on them. Mr Mitchell did not agree.

... (somewhat less successfully, it is true) rhymes with this scare from February 1918:

The "Chemist and Druggist" of London, of February 23 [1918], informs us that the German blackguards had, during that month, been dropping poisoned sweets from aeroplanes in the London area. It is quite inconceivable that any British general would issue a similar order for the poisoning of little German children, or, if it were given, of any British airman obeying it. An occurrence like this brings home to one, more than many of their acts, what a degraded being a German can be.

Not that history always rhymes, either. But the cadence is certainly familiar at times.

With apologies to Split Enz.

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6 thoughts on “History never repeats

  1. Post author

    Not only that, it's got a bloody huge bomb aimed straight at it! I'm not sure that too much thought went into this 'target list'; certainly the accompanying article doesn't give any reasoning for it. Maybe it's just the ten biggest cities in Germany at the time, or cities where hotel staff had been rude to the illustrator. But you could say that it doesn't suggest any great affection for Dresden, as is sometimes suggested existed on the British side. (And compare with Hamburg, which did have fairly close historical, commercial, cultural ties with Britain, and isn't on the map despite its industrial importance; and which also, of course, was firestormed.)

  2. Darrell

    How many did allied bombings kill? Dresden, Hamburg among others not of military value! and the flattening of Berlin the of course we have the bombs dropped on Japan by the US. History is for the victorious.
    Not supporting Hitler just wish the media would get it right, but then again this is from a allied propaganda perspective.

  3. Neil Datson


    What did Wolfgang Amadeus ever do to upset the Daily Mirror?

    (Bayreuth, I could just about understand.)

  4. Post author


    That's a very good question. If you were going to pick one town in former Austria to be bombed, why Salzburg and not Vienna? In fact, the illustrator has gone out of their way to include Salzburg, as the map only shows the pre-Anschluss borders of Germany. Technically then it shouldn't have been a target at all! Well, I don't suppose anyone read the Mirror for its superior grasp of geography.

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