First Air Raid On Moscow

Tracer fire from anti-aircraft batteries and searchlights light up the skies over the Kremlin during the first air raid on Moscow on July 22, 1941. 220 Bombers, flown by select Luftwaffe pilots flying Heinkel He-111s with new high-altitude engines, Dornier Do-217s attacked for five hours. The Soviets claimed over two dozen shot down. 130 people were killed, 241 severely injured, 421 lightly wounded, thirty-seven structures were destroyed, and 1,166 fire were started, including on the roof of the British Embassy. BBC Correspondent Alexander Werth (February 4, 1901- March 5, 1969), who had witnessed the bombing of London in 1940, saw "a fantastic piece of fireworks-tracer bullets, and flares, and flaming onions, and all sorts of rockets, white and green and red...the din was terrific; never saw anything like it in London. And searchlights and more searchlights, all over the place."German bombers returned ninety times over the next five months, losing bombers and fighters to unexpectedly improving air defenses around Moscow. 300 Soviet aircraft rammed German attackers over Moscow between July 22, 1941 and June 2, 1943. The Kremlin itself was hit six times. In his memoirs, Moscow Air Commander Lieutenant-General of Aviation Nikolai Sbytov (1905-1997) reported 122 air raids were made on Moscow between July 1941 and Summer 1943 and the government underreported casualties. "Simple arithmetic will show that Moscow became a cemetery not only for German aviation, but also a grave for thousands and thousands of the civilian population."
Caption Written By: 
Jason McDonald
Date Photographed: 
Tuesday, July 22, 1941
Moscow Oblast
Soviet Union