The London Blitz

In September of 1940 through May of 1941 there was a strategic bombing attack
that was lead by the Germans targeted towards London and other cities located in
England, this was known as The Blitz. The Germans aimed the bombs mostly at
populated cities, dock yards, and factories.
The bombing on London began on September 7, 1940 and lasted for 57
consecutive nights. During these nights of bombing people took shelter in warehouse
basements, and in underground subway stations with no privacy and poor sanitation
British radar, detected the huge formation, the Observer Corps started to count the
mass of German bombers in the sky, then came a warning call, “One hundred plus
bandits approaching…” Fighter Command could do nothing but scramble all twenty two
squadrons around London and they vectored towards Thames Haven and Tilbury.
“……all we could see was row upon row of German raiders heading for London. I
have never seen so many aircraft in the air all at the same time…..The escorting
fighters saw us at once and came down like a ton of bricks, when the squadron
split up and the sky became a seething cauldron of aeroplanes, swooping and
swerving in and out of the vapour trails and tracer smoke. A Hurricane on fire
spun out of control ahead of me while above to my right, a 110 flashed across my
vision and disappeared into the fog of the battle before I could draw a bead on it.
Everyone was shouting at once and the earphones became filled with a
meaningless cacophony of jumbled noises. Everything became a maelstrom of
jumbled impression – a Dornier spinning wildly with part of its port mainplane
missing; black streaks of tracer ahead, when I put my arm up to shield my face;
taking a breather when the haze absorbed me for a moment…..” 1
The main reason for all of this bombing was to break up the morale of the British
people so Hitler could pressure Churchill into negotiating. To Hitler’s surprise the
bombing had an opposite effect. The bombing actually brought the English people
“Between five and six o’clock on the evening of Saturday 7th September, some
320 German bombers supported by over 600 fighters flew up the Thames and
proceeded to bomb Woolwich Arsenal, Beckton gas Works, a large number of
docks, West Ham Power Station, and then the city, Westminster and Kensington.
They succeeded in causing a serious fire situation in the docks. An area about 1
square miles between North Woolwich Road and the Thames was almost
destroyed, and the population of Silvertown was surrounded by fire and had to be
evacuated by water. At 8.10pm some 250 bombers resumed the attack which was
maintained until 4.30 on Sunday morning. They caused 9 conflagrations, 59 large
fires, and nearly 1,000 lesser fires. Three main line railway termini were put out
of action, and 430 persons killed and some 1,600 seriously injured. After the fire
brigades had spent all day in an effort to deprive the enemy of illumination, some
200 bombers returned in the evening (Sunday 8th) to carry on the assault. During
this second night a further 412 persons were killed and 747 seriously injured, and
damage included the temporary stoppage of every railway line in the south.” 2
Many people thought that the first day of bombing was the worst, but infact they
didn’t know what they had coming for them. It was only the beginning of the worst.
When the bombing began on September 7 and continued every night until November 2.
Even though the consecutive nights of bombing ended it was still severe throughout 1941
“This first day of bombing was most dreadful. Most of us thought ‘…my God,
what on earth is happening, this is it….we are finished’, but of course, this was
Explosions were everywhere, there just was not a break, bang after bang after
bang. The clang of bells from fire service vehicles and ambulances were drowned
out by these bombs. You would here a whistle as a stick of bombs came down
then a loud explosion as they hit factories and houses, the ground shook. Then as
soon as that explosion happened, another whistle and another explosion. God, this
seemed to go on for hours.” 3
On November 14 one of the worst attacks happened against Coventry. In this
particular raid there were 449 German bombers that dropped 1,400 high explosive bombs
and 100,000 incendiaries. The incendiary devices created fire storms with super force
winds causing air to fan enormous walls of flames. This raid destroyed 50,000
buildings, killed 568 people, and 1,000 people were left badly injured.
The incendiaries that German dropped caused a fire storm that devastated an area
by St. Pauls Cathedral which destroyed many historical churches. Many famous
structures were damaged during the Blitz including, Buckingham Palace, Westminister
Abbey, and the Chamber of the House of Commons.
Many cities other then London were aimed at including: Portsmouth, South
Hampton, Plymouth, Exeter, Bristol, Bath, Cardiff, Birmingham, Coventry, Nottingham,
Norwich, Ipswich, Sheffield, Manchester, Liverpool, Hull, Middlesbrough, Sunderland,
Newcastle. Glasgow, Scotland, Belfast, and Northern Ireland were even targeted at.
The Blitz left devastating results such as leaving 375,000 Londoners homeless.
According to the Duxford’s library The Blitz was separated into three different phases.
The casualties for the first part which was August, 1940 to May 10, 1941 were: 18,629
men; 16,201 women; and 5,028 children were killed along with 695 unidentified charred
bodies. Aside from the deaths there were 51,000 seriously injured and 88,000 slightly
By the end of the 1950’s most of the war damage that happened during The Blitz
in London was repaired. After the war London’s landscape was very much changed
during the reconstruction, it changed the London skyline, they also added high-rise
offices and also adding apartment buildings. This bombing changed the lives of many
people, The Blitz was a very dramatic time for London sometimes it may seem that it all
happened for the better or even for the worse, but everything happens for a reason.
Eventually the reconstruction helped London prepare for the years that were coming by
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