The London Blitz - which began on this day in 1940 - eventually lasted six months, stretched through a bone-chilling winter and a sodden spring that was little better, and included at one stretch 76 consecutive nights of bombing in which Londoners of all stripe (or at least those who couldn't afford to move themselves or at least their children to the countryside), huddled in makeshift shelters and Tube stations.
And through it all they could be heard singing: pop songs or hymns, patriotic or propagandist, merry or maudlin...
So many bombs were dropped that nearly seventy years on they're still being dug up; yet casualties predicted to number a million or more, in the end amounted to just over 50,000. Certainly great swathes of the city were left in rubble but in the end many historic buildings were missed or sustained only minor damage. Most famous of these is St Paul's Cathedral, shown above during a particularly fierce firefight in December 1940 which was quickly dubbed The Second Great Fire of London; according to reports, German bombs could be heard bouncing off the dome, which is lead. Still, Sir Christopher Wren's masterpiece - like the nation that housed it - never fell.
It was Robert Davies who ultimately saved St. Paul's from total destruction, defusing a bomb which had struck the church; when the bomb was later detonated it left a hundred foot crater in Hackney Marshes. Davies, understandably, was awarded the George Cross, which was instituted by George VI during the Blitz to award the almost daily occurrences of civilian bravery which were inspired by the Blitz.
*The Holocaust, of course, being the worst.
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