Londoners woke up on the 30th December to begin to assess the damage in the bombed out City of London. Many fires were still burning and everywhere fine historic buildings lay in ruins. The scale of devastation, extending three miles from St Paul’s Cathedral, was hard to comprehend. Much of the heritage of the world’s prime mercantile centre, stretching back centuries, had been destroyed,
The image of the surviving cathedral complemented the government’s message that ‘Britain can take it’ – there was little incentive to dwell on what had been lost. The public mood does genuinely seem to have that it was necessary to try to carry on as normal. This was not easy – and there was no sign of when the misery might end.
John Wadsworth describes life in one of the branches of the Midland Bank that had been saved from the fire:
On the morning of December 30 the manager and staff arrived to find the banking hall running with water from fire hoses, basement strongrooms flooded to a depth of six inches, fire still smouldering in the upper floors and many records in indescribable confusion.
No electricity or gas was available, and, as daylight was excluded by the boarded-up windows and light dome, the interior gloom could be relieved only by candles. . . . No fires could be lighted, and the central heating was not operating, for although water swilled around floors and safes, none came through the taps.
Accounting machines were out of operation in the absence of electricity; and even had power been available, three out of a battery of five were water-damaged, and several typewriters were no longer serviceable. Just then the bank was particularly busy making up accounts for the half-yearly balance, and the loss of mechanical aids was a severe blow.
In a night the branch had moved back to working conditions worse than those of a century earlier. All entries were made by hand in candlelight, the branch counter with flickering wicks reflected in the pools of water scattered over the banking hall presenting a sorry spectacle. Letters were handwritten, and as far as possible, hand delivered; no telephones were working, essential messages being sent in the form of brief notes, while the office itself was damp and cold and wretchedly unhealthy.