Tuesday, September 07, 2010

Blitz spirit

A grocers at 43 Southwark Park Road was the first to get it during the Blitz. An incendiary bomb dropped on the roof at eight minutes past midnight on September 7, 1940. This was followed two minutes later by damage to a bakers a few doors down the road.

But the Blitz started relatively quietly. By 5pm, only 100 bombs had fallen on London. Then the barrage really started: 348 German bombers targeted the city, with more than 600 fighters protecting them. It must have been hell.

By midnight at the end of the first day of the Blitz, 843 incidents of damage had been logged by the London Fire Service, the latest an explosion in Poplar in East London in which 57 houses were damaged. Still, they had it easy. Seventy years on we've got a Tube strike in London.

The Guardian has the full list of damage on Day 1 of the Blitz and, very coolly, has mapped them on a Google satellite image of London so you can see where the bombs fell.

On that first day, bombs fell on Walerand Road and St Austell Road, just round the corner from where I live now, and on Garnet St in East London where I first lived when I moved to London. Yet somehow they missed the Millennium Dome.

My house has an old bomb-watching platform on the roof, where people must have stood during the Blitz and looked out for the sign of possible devastation. Next door is a postwar council block, one of the few non-Victorian buildings on the street. I can only assume that one night during the Blitz someone stood on the roof of my house and thought "shit, that's going to be close..."

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