1940-1949 | Bombing towns & cities | Churchill's crimes | Germany | RAF crimes

The first RAF fire bombing raid on Hamburg kills thousands

25 July 1943 At about 00.57 on 25 July 1943,  RAF bombers unleashed hundreds of bright red and yellow marker bombs, followed by thousands of incendiary bombs, on the densely populated German city of Hamburg. It was the first of four RAF fire bombing raids endured by the inhabitants over the following ten days, which…

1920-1939 | Bombing towns & cities | Collective punishments | Kurdistan | Punitive operations | RAF crimes

RAF drop 400 gallons of petrol and incendiaries on a Kurdish town

10 July 1922 On 10 July 1922, the small Kurdish town of Rowanduz was subjected to the first of a series of bombing raids by the RAF. Rowanduz was situated in northern Iraq, a country which was then under British military administration and a colony, in all but name. Group Captain Amyas Borton explained in…

1920-1939 | Bombing towns & cities | Kurdistan | RAF crimes

RAF bombing devastates the Kurdish town of Sulaymaniyah

27 May 1924 Today in 1924, the RAF initiated what it described as the ‘intensive bombing’ of the town of Sulaymaniyah in the kurdish region of north eastern Iraq. The local governor, Sheikh Mahmud Barzanji, was reported to have been raising illegal taxes, which the British feared might be the first stage in a planned…

1900-1919 | Afghanistan | Bombing towns & cities | RAF crimes

The R.A.F. bomb the medieval Afghan city of Jalalabad causing huge fires

20 May 1919 On 20 May 1919, R.A.F. aircraft of Number 31 squadron dropped more than a hundred bombs on the Afghan city of Jalalabad. A reminder to its population that continued refusal to accept British hegemony would have a terrifying cost. Afghanistan was then in its third week of a war,  an attempt to…

1920-1939 | Livestock targeted | RAF crimes | Sudan

R.A.F. biplanes machine gun and bomb cattle to starve the Nuer of Sudan

3 May 1920 On 3 May 1920, two RAF DH9A bombers, each equipped with eight 20 lb bombs as well as Vickers and Lewis machine guns, made the first of several air strikes on herds of cattle, belonging to the nomadic Nuer of southern Sudan. The Nuer had been failing to respect the ‘tribal’ boundaries…

1900-1919 | Bombing towns & cities | Bombing villages | India | RAF crimes

The R.A.F. strafe and bomb a school and crowds at Gujranwala

14 April 1919 On 14 April 1919, Michael O’Dwyer, Lieutenant Governor of the Punjab, gave orders that RAF aircraft should be sent to terminate anti-British protests in the town of Gujranwala. That morning large crowds, angered by the reports of the massacre by British troops of over 300 protesters at Amritsar the day before, set fire…

2010-2019 | Libya | RAF crimes

The RAF starts its bombing campaign in Libya

19 March 2011 On 19 March 2011, the Royal Air Force commenced air strikes in Libya. United Nations resolution 1973 had authorized member states to enforce a no-fly zone and to use all necessary means to protect civilians. However, the British government was soon involved in the pursuit of regime change to topple Gadaffi, who…

1940-1949 | Bombing towns & cities | Germany | RAF crimes

The RAF obliterates the medieval town of Wurzburg

16 March 1945 On 16 March 1945, in the closing days of the Second World War, as Allied forces advanced ever deeper into Germany, 225 RAF Lancaster heavy bombers dropped a mixture of high explosives and 300,000 incendiary bombs on the medieval city of Wurzburg. Though the municipality lacked any heavy industry, it contained numerous half-timbered buildings in…

1940-1949 | Bombing towns & cities | Germany | RAF crimes

RAF bombing kills one third of the population of Pforzheim in 22 minutes

23 February 1945 At 7.50 pm  of 23 February 1945, in the closing weeks of the Second World War,  367 RAF Lancaster heavy bombers began a massive air assault on the small German town of Pforzeheim. The town was renowned for its jewellery and watch making artisans, but of little or no strategic importance as…

1920-1939 | Bombing villages | Iraq | Livestock targeted | Punitive operations | RAF crimes

Iraqi villages subjected to punitive RAF bombing. Fleeing inhabitants machine-gunned.

27 January 1923 On 27 January 1923, after an RAF officer was wounded by insurgents in an ambush two miles north of the Iraqi town of Al Diwaniyah, several nearby villages were selected for punitive bombing. These settlements were believed to be inhabited by the Al Hamad, who the British deemed likely suspects in the…