Monday, May 10, 2010

All Quiet On The Western Front

I'm not really an 'on this day in history' sort of guy as I like to live in 'the now' and after all, what's been, has been. And also que sera, sera, if you believe Doris Day.

But many historical events are well worth remembering ( mainly so they have enough questions to create a decent history exam at school ) and one today struck me with a bit more force than usual - maybe because I'd been hearing a lot in the run up to our General Election last Thursday about making use of our right to vote.

As it was going to be a close election, everyone seemed to be telling us to use our vote. We were constantly reminded that people struggled for years to get us the vote and in the case of voting for women, that right cost lives as well. So perhaps the whole notion of what we owe previous generations was more in my mind today than usual.

Anyway the point of all this setup waffle is that on May 10th 1941, the most devastating bombing raid of 'The Blitz' took place in London and to pull this together with the General Election, it's worth noting that the chamber of the House of Commons was destroyed. Looking at all the historic buildings in London now, it's hard to imagine any of them having survived the blitz which lasted 8 months. London was bombed for 76 consecutive nights. Can you imagine that ?

On this day back in 1941, in a raid involving 550 German bombers, over 700 tons of bombs and thousands of incendiaries were dropped on our capital city, killing about 1500 people and seriously injuring 1800. Londoners didn't know it at the time, but this was effectively the last such bombing raid and has become the official end date for the blitz. Of course a new blitz took place in 1944 when the Germans developed flying bombs (V1/V2) which caused even more terror than old fashioned bombs and killed almost 9,000 people.

Many other towns and cities in the UK were targeted too, including Leeds, although these may have been stray bombs meant for Hull (60 miles away) as Hull was the most bombed city after London. This explains why it still looks like a bomb site today ! Sorry Hull.

And here's another little interesting fact; Oxford was never bombed as Hitler wanted it as his capital city. Say what you like about him, the man had style !

Old as I am, I was born several years after the end of WWII and so I just can't imagine living through 8 months of almost constant bombing. Hell I get spooked when a firework goes off or someone pops a crisp/chip bag. Sadly, many communities around the world still have to suffer such awful events to some extent although these days, most bombs do not start their journey on board a plane but are carried inside an SUV.

So there we have it. On this day in history : the end of the blitz.

Diary Entries:

May 10th 1941. More bombs than usual. Had tea and scones in the shelter.

May 11th. 1941. Bit quiet today.


Daphne said...

Well I didn't know that the chamber of the House of Commons was destroyed and I didn't know that Oxford was never bombed! I wonder what made Adolf like the idea of Oxford as the capital (although I know it's a lovely city of course!) Anyway, fascinating - I can't imagine being bombed and thank goodness that we postwar babies can't!

rhymeswithplague said...

I love the diary entries. Typical English understatement!

Yorkshire Pudding said...

I could have sworn I left a comment about the bombing of Hull yesterday. It seems to have "disappeared". Wonder why.

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