RAIN OF BOMBS
Milan's wonderful cathedral is here shown under a rain of dummy bombs dropped by 80 aeroplanes during recent manoeuvres of the Italians. To make the display more impressive and to ascertain the results with more certainty, luminous "bombs" were used and fell in a fiery rain upon the city -- a dire portent of future terrors
The images in this post are from Boyd Cable, 'The doom of cities', in John Hammerton, ed., War in the Air: Aerial Wonders of our Time (London: Amalgamated Press, n.d. ), 96-8. It was Cable's second article in a series on 'Things of tomorrow'. The text doesn't actually connect with the illustrations very well. Cable's main point is given away in the title, that in the next war cities will be ruthlessly destroyed from the air, since 'the murderous slaughter of non-combatants' is the most effective way to force a nation to surrender. While he notes that some experts are sceptical of this (Captain Turner, late of Woolwich Arsenal, Lord Castlerosse, Frederick Handley Page), he argues that 'they are flatly contradicted both by the known facts of the last war and by the preparations which we know have been made in anticipation of the next great struggle'.
Today, and as far as we can see into the future, War first of all means Air War; and Air War spells, literally and actually, the "doom of cities."
IF GAS BOMBS COME
Registered air raid shelters are one of the precautions provided in Berlin against the dangers of air raids. During practice raids on Berlin these shelters are brought into use, and here mothers and children are seen gathered in a bomb and gas proof dug-out while while the officer in charge reads aloud the official instructions to civilians in time of air raids
REALISM IN BERLIN
Rehearsals of air raid precautions in Berlin have been carried out with characteristic German thoroughness and realism. This photograph shows a motor-car which has actually been set on fire to show what disasters might occur in an actual raid
Another example of such thoroughness is seen in this photograph showing debris piled high in a street in the Kreuzberg section of Berlin as a grim warning of what might happen if a house were struck by a bomb. But Berlin has never been bombed and no thoroughness in mock destruction can reproduce the panic of the people in a real air raid
On the illustrations, the implication is that since Britain's potential enemies are taking civil defence seriously, Britain should too. In fact, British civil defence had only just begun a few months before this article would have been published (in July 1935, when the first ARP Circular was issued to local governments by the Home Office), so it was in its very early stages. Italy and Germany had been holding quite public civil defence exercises for some years, so it's not surprising that they would be held up as exemplars. But it is surprising (or at least it was to me) to then discover that during the Second World War Italy's ARP, in particular, was actually quite primitive compared with Britain's. (See Claudia Baldoli, Andrew Knapp and Richard Overy, eds, Bombing, States and Peoples in Western Europe 1940-1945 (London: Continuum, 2011.) The British certainly made up for lost time.
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