world-war-2THIS WEEK IN WORLD WAR II

THE BLITZ

 

Bomb Sight: Mapping the WW2 Bombs that Fell on London during The Blitz

Electronic Mapping of the WW2 Bombs that Fell on London during The Blitz

I wrote about the Blitz in a post last September: What Happened on Friday, September 13th – Buckingham Palace and the Blitz and I included the above map.  I am still shocked every time I see it.  I’ve also written some fictional stories involving the Blitz.  One of my favorites was Gracie’s Memories about a woman who as a child was sent away to safety during the war and never saw her mother again.  As much as I’ve read about it and have seen it portrayed in film, I don’t think I could ever understand what the people of London and surrounds experienced.  I’m sure it made them strong but to me, those years were real loss.

On September 7, 1940, 300 German bombers raid London, in the first of 57 consecutive nights of bombing. This bombing “blitzkrieg” (lightning war) would continue until May 1941.

London Blitz: two Dornier 217 flying over the Silvertown area of London's Docklands. Fires have started near the Beckton Gasworks. West Ham greyhound track

London Blitz: two Dornier 217 flying over the Silvertown area of London’s Docklands. Fires have started near the Beckton Gasworks. West Ham greyhound track

After the successful occupation of France, it was only a matter of time before the Germans turned their sights across the Channel to England. Hitler wanted a submissive, neutralized Britain so that he could concentrate on his plans for the East, namely the land invasion of the Soviet Union, without interference. Since June, English vessels in the Channel had been attacked and aerial battles had been fought over Britain, as Germany attempted to wear down the Royal Air Force in anticipation of a land invasion. But with Germany failing to cripple Britain’s air power, especially in the Battle of Britain, Hitler changed strategies. A land invasion was now ruled out as unrealistic; instead Hitler chose sheer terror as his weapon of choice.

British intelligence had had an inkling of the coming bombardment. Evidence of the large-scale movement of German barges in the Channel and the interrogation of German spies had led them to the correct conclusion-unfortunately, it was just as the London docks were suffering the onslaught of Day One of the Blitz.

London, September 1940

London, September 1940

By the end of the day, German planes had dropped 337 tons of bombs on London. Even though civilian populations were not the primary target that day, the poorest of London slum areas-the East End–felt the fallout literally, from direct hits of errant bombs as well as the fires that broke out and spread throughout the vicinity. Four hundred and forty-eight civilians were killed that afternoon and evening.

Children in the east end of London made homeless September 1940 (National Archives)

Children in the east end of London made homeless September 1940 (National Archives)

A little past 8 p.m., British military units were alerted with the code name “Cromwell,” meaning the German invasion had begun. A state of emergency broke out in England; even home defense units were put to the ready. One of Hitler’s key strategic blunders of the war was to consistently underestimate the will and courage of the British people. They would not run or be cowed into submission. They would fight.

Huge crowds followed Winston Churchill when he inspected damage and bomb craters in London. (Photo by Fox Photos/Getty Images). 10th September 1940

Huge crowds followed Winston Churchill when he inspected damage and bomb craters in London. (Photo by Fox Photos/Getty Images). 10th September 1940

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One response

  1. Birgit says:

    I am at work(shhhh:)) I will watch the video this eve when I am home. To see all those dots blew me away. That one picture capturing the building as it is falling is also hard to see. To fight was what had to be done and win. the shame are all the civilians who were in this war. My mom was in Hamburg and Dresden and I wonder what all the dots look like there. My mom’s best friend lived in Berlin. Her mom died when she was quite young and her father was a soldier and was on leave and came to Berlin but died in a bombing raid. My mom’s friend was sent to the country as well to escape the bombings. Due to one Madman and other horrible men under his command who also wielded power, so many died. At least we can take comfort that our side won despite the horrible nature of war

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