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Forces War Records Blog

THE 2ND GREAT FIRE OF LONDON - ST PAULS CATHEDRAL IN WW2

Even if certain family members got on your nerves or the children were full of excitement and noise this Christmas, you hopefully couldn't compare it to the Blitz. Christmas time in 1940, really was an explosive one, and on the evening of the 29th and 30th December, Luftwaffe, Germany’s powerful Air force, launched a devastating raid on London. Named the Blitz, during the raid 130 Heinkel HE111s aircraft dropped 10,000 Incendiary bombs, 300 bombs a minute, on central London causing a massive series of fires that wiped out the historical centre of London. The area of destruction stretched from South Islington to the very edge of St Paul’s Courtyard a distance of nearly three miles. 1500 fires raged in the area which created three major conflagrations and subsequently a huge firestorm that spread the flames ever closer to St Pauls Cathedral.
 
The Prime Minister, Winston Churchill urged that the Cathedral be saved at all costs insisting that all fire-fighting resource be sent to St Paul’s. London’s fire brigade and the Volunteer Firewatchers of the St Paul’s watch fought to keep the blaze under control and away from the Cathedral.

With fires burning all about it, St Paul's Cathedral is threatened with destruction

Other notable buildings including the Guildhall and Old Bailey were caught up in the blaze and the whole of Paternoster Row, the heart of London’s publishing trade, was wiped out along with almost 5 million books. Through it all St Paul’s Cathedral stood tall and proud amidst the smoke and the raging inferno. Sadly though, over 160 civilians died as the flames spread through the streets, many more would die from injuries and burns sustained during the bombing in the days that followed. Over 250 Firemen were injured combatting the blaze, and 14 were killed.
 
From atop the Daily Mail building, a photographer; Herbert Mason, at the time took what was to be an iconic photograph of the London Blitz. Among a haze of smoke and with the charred, gutted remains of other buildings in the foreground, the Dome of St Paul’s could be seen untouched by the devastation. Through sheer determination and perseverance the firefighters saved the historic building and brought the firestorm under control. The image of St Paul’s was a positive message of survival and a powerful symbol of Britain’s defiance and will to go on...

Source: Wiki

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