An Unusual Image Featuring a “Surrender” of London, 1917

JF Ptak Science Books  Post 2567

I came upon this image unexpectedly with the sneaking realization that I have rarely (ever?)  seen the words “London” and “Surrender” together. But there it was, in the high-end satirical and critical magazine, Punch, or the London Chiaravari, in the January 1917 “Almanack” section.  WWI was a war of stunning adjectives, and in 1917 their brutal nature grew even greater. The aerial bombing raids which commenced in 1915 extended to  London, thanks in large part to Ferdinand von Zeppelin. During the war there were 50-odd bombing raids to the U.K., causing 1900 casualties, the result of 5000 bombs dropped from airships. In 1917 the raids were more the result of airplane bombing, with 27 raids and 2700 casualties.  So compared to WWII standards the damage and casualties inflicted on the population was not great–except of course these people weren’t living in their future, and the practice of dropping bombs from the sky was only a few years old (and the Wright brothers’ flight took place only 11 years before the start of the war) the idea of being blasted by Zeppelins and airplanes must have been a furious worry. 

That’s what gives this cartoon such a poignancy, with the great newness of this new fear, the Brits displayed a characteristic “stiff upper lip” in the face of aerial attack–in this case perpetrated by the Count himself.  Here is Zeppelin being lowered from one of his airships over a compliant and surrendering London populace–no doubt the “surrender” part being far from anyone’s mind. Zeppelin would be dead in two months, and his airship replaced by a newer adversary, but right here in January, 1917, the Count and the fear of his attacks were being deflated, somewhat, displayed in a ridiculous situation so far removed from reality that its impossible possibility is humorous.

WWI London surrenders


The real thing caused a lot more damage via fear and trepidation than it did with actual casualties–unless you or your family were a casualty, and then it is a different story. But the fear was real, and it was used/displayed in a very provocative recruitment poster:

WWI Zep raid poster detail


WWI Zep raid poster[Full image]


By: Ptak Science Books
Via: Feedbin Starred Entries

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