Madrid Becomes the First City to Suffer Massive Air Attack

Tuesday 17th November 1936

As the Nationalist ground attack on Madrid ground to a halt in the face of determined Republican resistance, the city fell victim to severe bombing. This was conducted by both German and Italian government aircraft. At this stage the Luftwaffe was only deploying Junkers 52 aircraft, which had been designed as transport aircraft, as bombers, but the Republican air force was weak and unable to pit much of a defence. Damage was severe and casualties included 200 dead in a single raid. It was the first instance of a major city coming under sustained and devastating air attack.

Franco attempted to spare the upmarket Salamanca districts from the bombing, but the aristocracy suffered nonetheless. The Palacio de Liria, seat of the Duke of Alba, was burned out. The Duke’s dogs and his English groom, Lethbridge, found shelter in the British Embassy.


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