The Blitz may have been started entirely by accident, it was claimed yesterday. A Luftwaffe pilot may have kick-started the second Great Fire of London by dumping unused bombs on the East End instead of the English Channel.
During the war, it was common practice on both sides (for reasons of safety) to jettison surplus ammo in the Channel before heading for home. But Captain Rudolph Hellensleben – recommended for the German equivalent of the Victoria Cross, for acts of 'bravery' – may well have dumped his excess payload too soon, secret documents reveal.
The documents list all the Captain's raids including one just days before the Blitz, in which he mistakenly hit civilian targets on London's outskirts. The papers are part of a private collection being auctioned in Shropshire on the 25th of this month.
Directly because of this act of incompetence, Churchill ordered a smattering of bombs to be delivered with his warmest regards to the people of Berlin. A garden shed was apparently damaged in the attack. Hitler, an amateur gardening enthusiast, was incensed and retaliated by withdrawing a previous ruling of his that Central London was not to be targeted.
Capt. Hellensleben also took part in the first (official) London raid on Black Saturday, September the 7th, 1940.
Image culled from Google.