Londoners enjoy spectacle of air raid

Bomb damage in Bristol following an air raid. The rubble from this site is helping to make a new road at East River Drive in New York in the United States, where it was taken by ships as ballast.

Bomb damage in Bristol following an air raid. The rubble from this site is helping to make a new road at East River Drive in New York in the United States, where it was taken by ships as ballast.

A view of a display by the Ministry of Food at the 'Domestic Front' exhibition held at James Brooke and Sons Ltd., 376 Bethnal Green Road. This display focuses on wartime cookery demonstrations and includes information on vitamins, dried eggs and vegetables.

A view of a display by the Ministry of Food at the ‘Domestic Front’ exhibition held at James Brooke and Sons Ltd., 376 Bethnal Green Road. This display focuses on wartime cookery demonstrations and includes information on vitamins, dried eggs and vegetables.

Twin 5.25-inch guns of an anti-aircraft battery at Primrose Hill in London, 27 August 1943.

Twin 5.25-inch guns of an anti-aircraft battery at Primrose Hill in London, 27 August 1943.

The London Blitz had largely finished in 1941 but the Luftwaffe continued to threaten the country. The intermittent attacks since then were often described as ‘nuisance raids’, despite the fact that they were very often lethal, killing small numbers of people every time.

Most of the raids avoided London with its concentration of anti-aircraft guns, usually being ‘tip and run’ affairs on small towns and ports in the south and east of the country.

It had been a long time since there had been a significant raid on London, so when the sirens went off, people were more curious than scared. Vere Hodgson, who had kept a record of the whole of the Blitz, was amongst them:

Sunday, 10th

Jolly old Wailer set up on Thursday night. This time it was the goods. Gunfire loud and frequent. Searchlights filled the sky and planes caught in them. Lots of people watching. Ladbroke Square gun cracking out. Donned my tin hat — courage returned and I joined the sightseers. All London was doing the same.

Shells bursting and amazing fireworks filled the air above us. Went in for the News — then came another wave of bombers. Our bombers were on the way out as the Germans came in — sometimes the searchlights caught one of ours, and sometimes the enemy.

Heard next morning that 3O tons of bombs had dropped. Woodford, Ilford, Grays, Battersea, Hampstead … some say Red Lion Square and Vauxhall Bridge. Windows of Woolworths in Kensington High St blown out by one of our shells.

It might just as well have dropped in Lansdowne Rd and put us out of action. Felt our conduct in being out in the road was most reprehensible, but I did enjoy it. Had seen a bit of the Battle of Britain. Anyway, then Mr H. and I settled down to work, and it was 11.30 p.m. before I went up the road.

Armies are plodding diligently up the Italian stocking, but it is heavy going. Duke of Wellington has been killed. That makes three Dukes lost so far, which is a good quota, considering there are not many of them.

Heavy raid on Frankfurt and I thought of the Remy family there. Naples is having a rotten time.

The Germans are using the word elastic as the phrase of the moment. This has amused the European News broadcaster. It is to explain their retreats… the situation is elastic… So he suggested that they would soon get tied up in their own elastic, and be unable to get it undone.

See Few Eggs and No Oranges: The Diaries of Vere Hodgson 1940-45

The raid was actually on the night 7th/8th October and records show that 35 people were killed in London.

New Sacks for Old: Salvage in Wartime Britain, 1943 Mrs Nancy Marchant at work on a large darning or sewing machine at a sack recovery plant, somewhere in London. A large pile of sacks can be seen behind her, awaiting attention. Mrs Marchant's record output is 850 bags in one day.

New Sacks for Old: Salvage in Wartime Britain, 1943
Mrs Nancy Marchant at work on a large darning or sewing machine at a sack recovery plant, somewhere in London. A large pile of sacks can be seen behind her, awaiting attention. Mrs Marchant’s record output is 850 bags in one day.

German Tiger I tank captured in Tunisia, on display at Horse Guards Parade in London, 18 November 1943.

German Tiger I tank captured in Tunisia, on display at Horse Guards Parade in London, 18 November 1943.

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