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 str...
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...monument that is St. Paul's, the testament to the courage and pride of London, 1939-1945. However, while the size of St. Paul's dwarfs the memorial to the victims, for the people whose attention is caught by the unimposing memorial, the memorial and its message stand as the remembrance of the Blitz. The message of St. Paul's being an unintended monument to the London spirit during the Blitz is no longer heard.
Fitzgibbon, Constantine. The Blitz. London: Allan Wingate, 1957.
Matthews, W. R. and W. M. Atkins. A History of St. Paul's Cathedral. London:
Phoenix House, 1957.
Neville, John. The Blitz: London Then and Now. London:
Hodder & Stoughton, 1990.
Ray, John. The Night Blitz 1940-1941. London: Arms and Armour Press, 1996.
"The London Blitz, 1940," EyeWitness - history through the eyes of those who lived it, www.ibiscom.com (2001).
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