The Blitz and St Paul's Cathedral
When the Blitz began over Britain in the fall of 1940, Londoners were frightened and unsure of what the Nazis had in store for them. However, their uneasy emotions would later change into feelings of nationalistic pride and perseverance, as London became a city full of active resistors to the Nazi forces. This change would be prompted from a variety of sources, including Winston Churchill, the media, as well as the emergence of inspirational symbols. St. Paul's Cathedral is undoubtedly the most powerful of these symbols, becoming a timeless image associated with the Blitz, encapsulating sentiments of hope and courage.
LONDON THROUGH THE BLITZ
The Blitz on London started on September 7, 1940 and continued until May 1941, lasting a total of eight months. The goals of the Blitz were to "pound Britain into submission by bombing economic and civilian targets," and primarily to soften up the morale of the British people (Ray 9). However, "unlike other campaigns this was a contest mainly between Luftwaffe aircrews and British civilians, the one group skilled and the other untrained in killing" (Ray 9).
Although the first bombs fell in August, the first mass attack, concentrated on the docklands area, occurred on September 7. Throughout the afternoon, 300 bombers, escorted by 600 fighters, dropped 300 tons of bombs on the docks downstream from Tower Bridge. These bombs ravaged the East End, creating a two-mile high wall of smoke that would serve as a landmark for the night raid. When the sun set, another 330 tons of high explosives and 440 canisters of incendiary bombs were dropped. The bombing rapidly escalated and continued for the next 57 consecutive nights, increasing in strength every single night. On the nights of April 16 and 17, 1941, over 1,000 tons of bombs were dropped on London, including 150,000 incendiaries. At least 2,000 fires erupted and transport was disrupted for days. The attacks were concentrated on the Fleet Street area and the West End, and over 1,200 people were killed. The last massive attack took place during the nights of May 10 and 11, 1941. The raid consisted of over 800 tons of explosives and produced over 2,000 fires.
Prepping the City
In order to deal with the threat of the bombing of London, the British government took on a variety of precautions. From a militaristic standpoint, the R.A.F. bomber force was built up in hope that fear of reprisal would keep the Germans away. But when it came to the point that an attack was more than likely, the British government sought to camouflage targets as best as they could. Individual targets were hidden by smoke and paint during the day and a total blackout, over all of Britain and Northern Ireland, was mandatory at night. The blackout made it difficult for the bombers to find their targets and did result in a spreading out of the bombs, instead of concentrated attacks on selected areas.
Prepping the People