Monday, January 28, 2013

Battle Of Britain – part 7

The All Too Real and Some nice touches

Germany attacked and bombed London ruthlessly and randomly. No one was safe, and no place was free of the possibility of being bombed. If it was English it was fair game. What you’re about to see are screen captures from the film, and some actual photos of the devastation caused by the bombing. I suspect the film rarely touched on the mayhem created by the bombing because it would be very difficult, and that it would stir up some rather unpleasant memories for some.  Only thirty years had passed since the bombs were all too real.

80. Observers must have tea

                                      Screen Capture from the film

Battle of Britain air observer 

                                      Observer in 1940

81. dogfighting contrails

                            Battle in the sky – screen capture

Dogfight over Albert memorial

                 Dogfight over the Albert Memorial – 1940

82. Victoria station is hit

                   Victoria Station is hit – screen capture

Dornier crashing into Victoria station

                                      Bomber about to hit the station

89. air raid shelters

          Aldwych Tube Station (subway station) –screen capture

Aldwych tube station air raid shelter

         The same station in 1940 being used as an air raid shelter

Aldwych station was one of many stations used as a shelter. London Transit did not want the stations used for this purpose. Eventually the Lord mayor of London issued a decree that banned people from this practice. However, when the bombing really became fierce people continued to come to the stations  After a few weeks of relentless bombing entertainers started performing in the stations to improve morale– unfortunately the film didn’t show this. Aldwych is one of a number of stations that are no longer in use, and are called “ghost” stations. They still exist, but are not on maps issued by London Transit. Those fellows in the center of the picture with helmets are air raid wardens.

You aren’t safe anywhere

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Not satisfied bombing London the Luftwaffe tried to break the spirit of Britons by attacking places of cultural or historical significance. On November 14 1940 the city of Coventry was bombed. Their Cathedral was utterly destroyed. 568 people died in the bombing. In May of 1997 I had the chance to visit Coventry. It didn’t wasn’t hard to find shattered stained glass still on the ground. The Cathedral has been re-built, however very few people like it.

Coventry

Coventry #2

The only thing that survives is skeleton of the Cathedral. I stood where a man is in the center of the picture. He was standing where the alter used to be.

The British were far from demoralized. The bombing created a camaraderie, and brought people closer together. Stores opened without the glass that would normally be in the window. Broken water and gas pipes were regarded as a minor inconvenience, and the sight of a double Decker bus in a bomb crater became a regular occurrence. Throughout the entire battle the British telephone system, which rarely receives a kind word, and is the butt of many a joke, functioned perfectly one hundred percent of the time. The only people who were depressed were the Germans. Operation Sea Lion was in shambles. The RAF was strong, and getting stronger every day. The Royal Navy was moving into a wartime footing, and morphing into a force to be reckoned with. Goring had failed. All the strategies had failed. The military forces of the so called “master race” had failed. German forces that had been gathering in France for an invasion were given new orders. When the German pilots stationed in France got new orders they were sent east – to prepare for the invasion of Russia.

94. no invasion

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