Event Title

The Untold Story of Civilian Strafing in the Second World War

Presenter Information

Samuel LeFeber, Colby CollegeFollow

Location

Diamond 153

Start Date

30-4-2015 10:30 AM

End Date

30-4-2015 11:55 AM

Project Type

Presentation- Restricted to Campus Access

Description

During the Second World War, bombing campaigns were designed to target civilians and inflict as much damage as possible in an attempt to lower morale and slow down wartime production in the opposing country. A lesser known aspect of aerial warfare tactics being used against civilians is that pilots of fighter planes would often take strafing runs at civilians in groups of refugees, working on farms, or just walking down the road. Many accounts of this happening have been recorded, with eye witness testimonies leaving no air power innocent. My research looks at this somewhat forgotten practice of strafing civilians, focusing on the reason behind these acts and the frequency with which they occurred. Still today, there is debate regarding the strafing of civilians, and historians are unsure of the driving cause. Were there official orders sanctioned by military leaders, or just pilots self-desires? Perhaps these pilots were informally encouraged and pressured to shoot at civilians by fellow pilots, turning the spectacle into sport. The numbers of those killed in these strafing runs are unclear, and in some cases the validity of civilians claims are questionable; however, one thing remains certain. Weather fueled by personal motivation, or encouraged formally or informally by commanding officers and other pilots, German, British, and American fighter pilots set their gun sights on civilians in the Second World War, and pulled the trigger.

Faculty Sponsor

Raffael Scheck

Sponsoring Department

Colby College. History Dept.

CLAS Field of Study

Social Sciences

Event Website

http://www.colby.edu/clas

ID

1538

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Apr 30th, 10:30 AM Apr 30th, 11:55 AM

The Untold Story of Civilian Strafing in the Second World War

Diamond 153

During the Second World War, bombing campaigns were designed to target civilians and inflict as much damage as possible in an attempt to lower morale and slow down wartime production in the opposing country. A lesser known aspect of aerial warfare tactics being used against civilians is that pilots of fighter planes would often take strafing runs at civilians in groups of refugees, working on farms, or just walking down the road. Many accounts of this happening have been recorded, with eye witness testimonies leaving no air power innocent. My research looks at this somewhat forgotten practice of strafing civilians, focusing on the reason behind these acts and the frequency with which they occurred. Still today, there is debate regarding the strafing of civilians, and historians are unsure of the driving cause. Were there official orders sanctioned by military leaders, or just pilots self-desires? Perhaps these pilots were informally encouraged and pressured to shoot at civilians by fellow pilots, turning the spectacle into sport. The numbers of those killed in these strafing runs are unclear, and in some cases the validity of civilians claims are questionable; however, one thing remains certain. Weather fueled by personal motivation, or encouraged formally or informally by commanding officers and other pilots, German, British, and American fighter pilots set their gun sights on civilians in the Second World War, and pulled the trigger.

http://digitalcommons.colby.edu/clas/2015/program/442