29th December 1940. Second Fire of London.
The 1940 autumn Blitz on Britain culminated in an attack on the night of 29th/30th December, so severe as to be described as ‘the 2nd Fire of London’.
The raids came at a time of slack-tide so the low water level would impede fire-fighting.(1)
14 firemen died, 31 Guildhalls were destroyed along with 19 churches, Paternoster Row home of the book trade was lost with millions of books, after 24,000 High Explosives and 100,000 Incendiaries had fallen.
St Paul’s Cathedral was saved from the hundreds of incendiaries, by the rooftop fire-watchers scooping them to the ground.(2)
The blitz had begun, in earnest on September 7th 1940 as Goering changed tactics from attacking radar units and airfields to civilian targets. Some say a mistake.
It was shortly after 5 pm when the drone of 300 enemy bombers escorted by double the number of fighters, using the river as a guide, came up the Thames bombing Woolwich Arsenal, a power station, gas works, the docks and the city.
Two hours later another 250 bombers followed by others throughout the night, until the last attack at 4 am; Luftwaffe pilots spoke of London being an ‘ocean of flames’, after 100.s of tons of high explosive and incendiaries.
The German High Command described it as a reprisal for the residential bombing of their cities including Berlin. Among the civil casualties were the Mayors of Westminster and Bermondsey.
The British Museum was damaged and St. Paul’s was only saved by the devotion of the fire-watchers every night brushing off incendiaries.
In total over 60,000 (30,000 in London alone) civilians were to be killed in WWII.
(1) This is not to underplay the devastation elsewhere, nor forgetting Coventry. which is explored elsewhere.
(2) Manned by architects and others who knew the vast intricacies of the building.
booksforvictory/pic of library.
bbc.co.uk/September 7th 1940/pic of milkman.
twitter.com. marcal isern/pic of wedding.
Pinterest/pic of cup of tea.