September 1940

Sep

10

1940

St Thomas's Hospital bombed

St Thomas's Hospital, across the Thames from the Houses of Parliament, was bombed for the first time on 8th September 1940.

Everybody who was near when the bomb exploded was absolutely covered in black dust – was quite unrecognisable. We found five nurses who were trapped and let them out by shifting some enormous piece of furniture and thus allowing a piece of wall to fall down. They seemed quite cheery.

All the while the bombs were falling round about – but we did not take much notice of them then. The amazing thing was that only five nurses were killed, and a lot of them had cuts and bruises but nothing serious. One was pinned under the ruins for hours before she died.

Sep

9

1940

Air Raids now hitting public morale

The morning after, a London street sometime during late 1940.

In the areas which have been most heavily raided there has been little sign of panic and none of defeatism, but rather of bitterness and increased determination to ‘see it through’. There is widespread and deeply felt apprehension, which is apparent mostly in the London Dock area, of a continuation of raids, and much anxiety about the chaos in domestic affairs which has resulted from the activities of the last few nights.

Sep

8

1940

Direct hit on shelter kills 78 people

The modern day memorial to the Peabody Estate disaster, where whole families died together when a bomb hit the air raid shelter.

The modern day memorial to the disaster at the Peabody Estate, Whitechapel, where whole families died together when a bomb hit the air raid shelter.

Sep

7

1940

The Blitz hits London

A famous image of the bombing of London, a Heinkel III bomber over the Thames, taken from another German bomber at 6.48pm on the 7th September 1940

During the night of 7th/8th September, attacks extending over many hours covered a considerable area of London and were of an intense nature. Preliminary reports do not permit an accurate review of the full extent of the places hit or of the damage. Possibly the most serious effect has been in Silvertown which has been described as a ‘raging inferno’ and complete evacuation became necessary. Over 600 fire appliances were in use during the night.

Sep

6

1940

British 'take the bombing in good heart'

At the beginning of the war Air Raid Wardens were often seen as unnecessarily officious and interfering. Attitudes changed as the bombing became more intense and there were eventually nearly 1.4 million voluntary unpaid wardens.

An increasingly fatalistic attitude towards the effect of bombing is reported, and this appears to be coupled with a high state of morale. In the East End the searchlights rather than the sirens are now taken as a sign for going to the shelters. Cooperation and friendliness in public shelters are reported to be increasing …

Sep

4

1940

Hitler declares that he will hit back

The Heinkel III, mainstay of the German bomber fleet, in flight, September 1940.

You will understand that we shall now give a reply, night for night, and with increasing force. And if the British Air Force drops two, three or four thousand kilos of bombs, then we will drop 150,000, 180,000, 230,000, 300,000 or 400,000 kilos, or more, in one night. If they declare that they will attack our cities on a large scale, we will erase theirs! We will put a stop to the game of these night-pirates, as God is our witness.

Sep

3

1940

Spitfire versus Messerschmitt

Spitfires in flight: relatively rare contemporary British image

Then, just below me and to my left, I saw what I had been praying for – a Messerschmitt climbing and away from the sun. I closed in to 200 yards, and from slightly to one side gave him a two-second burst: fabric ripped off the wing and black smoke poured from the engine, but he did not go down. Like a fool, I did not break away, but put in another three-second burst. Red flames shot upwards and he spiralled out of sight.

Sep

2

1940

HMS Sturgeon torpedoes a troopship

The commander of a Royal Navy submarine at the periscope as he prepares to launch torpedoes.

The target was silhouetted against the sun. One explosion was heard at 19.58 and when the periscope was raised a dense column of black smoke was seen rising from the target to a height of about 2000 feet. The small vessels astern of “Pionier” scattered and no attack on them was possible.

Sep

1

1940

The ‘year of torments’ in Poland

The Kutno Ghetto 1940

In this year of torments, Polish Jewry has been destroyed. Its property and holdings were confiscated; all sources of income were blocked; its ancient communities were uprooted and exiled; its cemeteries are piles of rubble; its human rights have been erased and annulled; its lives are worthless. Imprisoned, subjugated, and mummified in the narrow confines of ghettos, it is declining to the lowest level of human survival.