chapter  1
Before 1939
Pages 17

In 1919 Lloyd George, British prime minister, asked the new air force whether it had the capacity to bomb British urban centres such as Liverpool, Manchester and Glasgow. The reason for this frightening request was that Lloyd George and many other members of the establishment feared Britain was on the verge of revolution which, should it break out, could only be suppressed by shock tactics. Thousands of British people had died in German air raids on Britain in the First World War, which had effectively ended on 11 November 1918. As a result bombing was thought to be a practical way of terrorising the masses. The Liberal/Conservative coalit ion government faced the mutiny of 10,000 British troops at Folkestone in January 1919. Later in the month another 20,000 men at Calais refused to obey orders. Sailors on HMS Kilbride hoisted the red flag. In February armed troops demonstrated on Horse Guards Parade, the centre of the government district in London. In Glasgow, Scotland’s biggest industrial centre, a general strike was in progress and the red flag flew from the city hall.1 The normally reli able police had gone on strike in London, Liverpool and other towns.2 In Ireland death was on the streets as the British govern ment used ruthless methods to crush Michael Collins’ IRA rebels who sought independence from Britain. The Labour Party censured the government’s policy which had led to the burning of Cork, Balbriggan and other places.3 In Britain’s sprawling Indian Empire the situation was not much better.