WW II - Battle over Britain

Portsmouth and the Blitz

July 1940 - July 1944

Why Portsmouth was a major target

The importance of Portsmouth as a Naval city at the beginning of the second world war made it particularly vulnerable to German attacks. The 'Deutsche Luftwaffe' had been flying numerous

Bombfall GIS

Target GIS

aerial reconnaissance missions over the city during the first couple of months of, and even before, the war and both the Germans and the British knew a crucial factor in Hitler's plan to invade Britain was to destroy its Navy (Clarke, 1995). German aerial reconnaissance of the time clearly shows their main areas of interest. Military establishments, private dockyards, stations, hospitals and supply buildings such as gas works or water treatment plants were clearly marked on the German target maps and remained high priority targets throughout the war (Clarke, 1995).

Apart from being a major target as a Naval city, Portsmouth also had to struggle with the everyday problems of the war. A diary of events by Jenkins (1986) tells the story of children being evacuated, false air raid alarms, food rationing, the blackout and severe coal shortage, amongst all the other hardships to be suffered in time of war.

The City of Portsmouth Records of the Corporation give a total number of 67 raids taking place over Portsmouth, leaving about 800 people dead and over 2000 injured in the first 63 between 11th July 1940 and 17th October 1943. No details are given for raids 64 to 67.