Waiting For The Blitzkrieg

A Letter from London

Things here are going very well. Output is going up like blazes, particularly because, thanks to bad weather, we have had practically no interference with work on our night shifts for the past two months. But even if there had been, the output is jumping.

Naturally, we are all sitting and waiting to see what the newest sort of blitz is going to be. People talk gaily about 4-ton bombs, which might be nasty if they hit anything, but would be a frightful waste of material and carriage if they do not.

With a 4-tonner you have either got to hit something or waste it. You cannot spread it lengthwise or crosswise over a target area as you can a stick of bombs.

Also, quite naturally, there is a lot of talk about gas attacks. But judging from the little I know about gas, they can only be of a limited extent. They might be used in an attempt to terrorize the civil population in the same way that machine-gunning the streets, or flying alongside railway trains and pumping bullets into them is an attempt at terrorization. But I do not see how any sort of aeroplane is going to carry enough gas or gassifying liquid to cover a big enough area to have any serious effect.

And, to be at its worst, gas needs an absolute flat calm to be effective. Thank the Lord this is a windy country. People who live in Central Europe are apt to forget it, and I can see gas attackers leaving Germany on what they fondly imagine to be a flat calm day and running into half a gale here. But probably they have discovered that in the course of their raids.

I think that what the bulk of the population of this country are looking forward to is the promised invasion. They are not exactly viewing the prospect with pleasure, as they know that somebody is going to be discommoded. But they want it to come and get it over. The mental attitude of the nation as a whole is rather that of somebody who is about to take some unpleasant medicine which he feels absolutely confident will do him good when he has got rid of it.

The Air Force naturally are looking forward to it with something very like pleasure, because they know it will give them the chance of a thundering good whack, not only at the German Air Force, but at the stuff on the sea and at anything which may perhaps survive to reach the coast. And they are anxious to see what will happen if the Germans try to put down troop-carriers and the much-advertised trains of gliders in this country.

Personally, I cannot see how they are going to do it in the dark, and if they try it in the daytime, they have not got a hope. If they try parachute troops, there are so many soldiers all over the country, and there is such a lot of the Home Guard, and they are all so keen, that I cannot see the parachutists having a hope either.

Even if the Germans launched an attack with a million men all at once, and even if they tried to concentrate them in a few areas. I still do not see how they could do more than possibly break up a few railways or burn an aerodrome or two.

And another thing, for the purposes of tackling them, all the obsolete fighters in the country and those few American fighters which would be considered under-armed for First-class fighting on the Continent, would come in perfectly well.

In fact, even elementary trainers could carry enough bombs to do considerable execution among boats off the coast and men trying to land on beaches. It is likely to be a grand scrap if and when it comes.

I do not think that there is anything in this letter to which the Censor is likely to object, so just use anything you like.

Yours very sincerely,
C G Grey

This article was originally published in the April, 1941, issue of Aviation magazine, vol 40, no 4, pp 30-31.
The original article includes photos of a flightline of B-17Cs, a flight shot of a FW-200 and an aerial photo of central London.
Photos credited to Wide World, Acme.
A PDF of this article [ PDF, 5.8 MiB ] is available.