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Blitz - the bombs that changed Britain

(69 Posts)
Gasp0deTheW0nderD0g Thu 23-Nov-17 22:13:07

Absolutely excellent. Incredibly moving at times too. 400 people were killed in London on the first night of the Blitz, and it went on for months after that, night after night. It's almost unimaginable now.

I really liked the way this programme got relatives of people who were bombed to read out their diary entries and look at the archives.

FadedRed Thu 23-Nov-17 22:19:22

My DM cousin was killed in the Baedecker Raids in Bath. I wonder if that one will be in this series.
Can't imagine sitting or trying to sleep in a tin shed in the garden (Morrison shelter) wondering if you'd live to see the morning, or whether your house would still be standing.

Battleax Thu 23-Nov-17 22:20:27

Thank you. Will watch.

NetballHoop Thu 23-Nov-17 23:26:32

I've got it saved to watch tomorrow.

If you haven't seen it, this website is very good. It maps every bomb that fell in London between 7th October 1940 and 6th June 1941:

LouiseBrooks Fri 24-Nov-17 00:17:16

I forgot it was on! Thanks for the reminder.

My mother grew up in another large British city that was bombed. Near my grandparents grave there is one for a family of nine who were all killed in one bombing raid. I remember as a child my mother showing me the tombstone and being amazed by this.

My grandfather died in the middle of the war (natural causes) and there was a bombing raid shortly afterwards. They had to go into the air raid shelter at the bottom of the garden and leave his body in the house all night.

My mother said quite often she would be on her way home after work, the sirens would go so everyone had to get off and go down the air raid shelters. Sometimes raids went on all night and when the all clear sounded the next morning, she wouldn't have time to go home but would just go straight back to work! When I was young, I just thought how awful to not have a change of clothes. As I got older all I could think of was granny, with no phone, having to wait till evening of the second day to be sure my mother was alive.

"I don't know how we survived" she told me. I think an awful lot of people must have thought the same thing.

I can't begin to imagine how dreadful it must have been.

Gasp0deTheW0nderD0g Fri 24-Nov-17 07:25:53

Indeed. My mum was a child during the war and lived near Glasgow. Sometimes if the sirens went off on her way to or from school she and her sister had to make the decision whether to run back to school or run on to home. What a responsibility to put on very young children. Her dad was conscripted into the Fire Brigade and must have seen some awful things on Clydeside. He never talked of that time and he died when I wasn't old enough to have thought much about this, so I never asked him about it.

Thanks for that link. I'd seen the site before but will bookmark it now. I live in SE London and sometimes when you walk around an area here that's mostly Victorian or Edwardian houses you come across a break where there's a block of council flats or a few post-war semis. If you go to the next street you find similar but a little further down. The pattern often goes on for several streets. I assume these are the places where bombs fell, or maybe a stick of bombs, cutting a swathe through residential streets.

I'm glad they're also going to look at the effects of Allied bombing in Germany.

BertieBotts Fri 24-Nov-17 07:32:17

I will have to see if I can find this. We live in Germany and they are still finding unexploded bombs. Any time there is construction work or excavation of some kind. There was that man who mistook a courgette for a bomb recently - very funny etc - but the reality is he was absolutely right to be cautious because they find them a few times a year.

Gasp0deTheW0nderD0g Fri 24-Nov-17 08:38:14

Same in London, Bertie. Probably other parts of the UK too. There was one further down our street a few years ago. The police closed it off for a few hours while they investigated.

Magi84 Fri 24-Nov-17 08:41:46

I watched the programme and could relate so well to it all. I was 7 years old in 1947 and lived in Edinburgh. We were fairly lucky there with only one bomb dropping on the city. However I spent many a night under the kitchen table listening to the terrible drone of the aircraft going towards Glasgow to drop bombs on Clydebank. My mother had 2 brothers and a cousin working in the Glasgow docks which were of course the target so we spent a lot of time thinking of them and praying they were safe. I've often wondered why we thought it was fairly safe under the kitchen table. An aired shelter came later but you still had to make your way there which was very frightening.

My husband was 12 in 1947 and lived in London. His family were bombed out twice and in fact his school took a direct hit. Luckily that was during a night raid so no children there. Later of course most of the kids were evacuated. He in fact has very fond memories if the family where was evacuated.

Certainly a dramatic and tragic time to live through.

Magi84 Fri 24-Nov-17 08:48:13

Sorry just noticed my keypad has decided to put 1947 when of course it should be 1940!,

TressiliansStone Fri 24-Nov-17 08:56:19

There was an excellent but grim documentary a few years ago about the destruction of Coventry.

They interviewed a elderly woman who'd survived it as a child. She was clearly reliving it as she spoke, and as the interview progressed you could see the change in her - by the end she was jumping at tiny sounds and looking round fearfully.

At some level I've known the story of the Coventry raid since childhood, but this brought it home.

Thymeout Fri 24-Nov-17 09:40:06

Anderson shelters were the corrugated iron ones in back gardens. Morrison shelters were a sort of reinforced table for indoors. I don't think many people had them. My mother used to put me as a baby under an ordinary dining table when the sirens went. We lived in a suburb, but my grandparents lived in inner London and I can remember sleeping in their Anderson shelter later on in the war when there were doodlebugs. My aunt's school was bombed in broad daylight during the lunch-hour. There were many casualties. Fortunately, they lived close enough to the school for her to go home for lunch, but a bit of the school landed in their back garden.

I haven't seen the programme yet, but I was wondering last night when I saw it was on what effects being a war baby had on my later life. I didn't see my father for 2 years because he was overseas with the RAF and after the war we had years of real austerity with rationing. I do think, as a generation, we are more stoical. Over 60,000 civilian casualties. Imagine that now.

Yoksha Fri 24-Nov-17 09:42:25

Magi84, sorry to disagree re only one bomb falling on the city, there's documented evidence in The Scotsman, Lost Edinburgh & Pinterest among other sites to show just how much Edinburgh was bombed on a few occasions during WW2. Although no where near other cities in the UK.

My great grandma, her daughter and baby son in arms were casualties of a direct hit in Aberdeen. Killed instantly. My grandma was in labour during an air raid with my own mum's younger sister. Mum was 4, & she told me she remembered it in detail. My grandad couldn't go to fetch the local mid-wife. His wife was in labour, and the ensuing stress of the whole situation caused him to have a heart attack and drop down dead. My mother witnessed all this whilst watching the enemy planes flying overhead. She spoke about this several times over her life. Very sad indeed.

Excellent programme. Diary readings from surviving relatives made it all the more poignant. Nearly cried on several occasions.

eddiemairswife Fri 24-Nov-17 10:08:10

I spent the night before my 3rd birthday in the Anderson shelter with my mother and grandma. I can still remember walking up the garden path in my dressing-gown and slippers, and feeling excited.

Later, we had a Morrison shelter. Mum used to put me and my little brother to bed in the shelter, and come downstairs to join us when there was an air-raid. I had absolute faith in the shelter, and had a plan that if the house was bombed and my mother was killed I would get dressed, put my brother in his pram and wheel him down to grandma's.

I used to go school on the bus with some other little girls. One day we arrived to find that some incendiary bombs had fallen on the school, and the top floor had burnt out, so we were sent home. It was then a 5-18 school, and years later, when I was in the senior school, we were still using text-books showing signs of water-logging from the fire hoses.

Thymeout Fri 24-Nov-17 11:28:21

Greetings eddiemairswife from your fellow fan!

We must be around the same age. Did you play on bomb sites? They were ace, the original adventure playgrounds.

I don't regret my turbulent childhood, tho' it does make me bore on about wicked waste and wussy women who won't answer the door when they're alone in the house. I think of my mother coping all on her own with a baby and travelling through central London, NW to SE, during the Blitz to visit her family.

BertieBotts Fri 24-Nov-17 12:04:02

My great aunt was a young woman during the Blitz in Cardiff. One day she could not get to a shelter so she stood up as close as she could with her back against the wall of a building and prayed. She was so frightened that her hair literally grew out white from that day on and never turned back. Of course, when I met her she was an old lady and having white hair was unremarkable, but as a young woman it must have been very unusual. I'd always thought hair turning white from fear only happened in cartoons.

We don't know we're born, do we?

CoolCarrie Fri 24-Nov-17 12:30:29

You are right, BertieBotts. My dad and his best friend were message boys during the war and his friend was killed helping an old couple into a shelter, poor lad was only 12. His parents used to cry every time they saw my dad, he used to try to avoid them as he felt so guilty.

MadisonAvenue Fri 24-Nov-17 12:30:37

We really don't Bertie

My mom grew up in Birmingham, in Moseley, and she remembers going into the shelter one night and then coming out the following morning to hear what sounded like a lamb bleating. My Nan had given birth to her fourth child while still in the house during the air raid.

TressiliansStone Fri 24-Nov-17 12:43:09

Same happened to my grandpa, Bertie - went from no white to completely white while a POW.

TressiliansStone Fri 24-Nov-17 12:49:51

Aberdeen City & Aberdeenshire Archives have done a bomb-damage map of Aberdeen. I'd no idea the city had been hit.

(In my defence, I grew up somewhere that had been bombed to buggery, so other areas haven't always registered.)

eddiemairswife Fri 24-Nov-17 12:53:53

Bomb sites were great to play on, though my best friend and her brothers were much more daring than I was.

I also remembering hearing the doodlebugs coming over, and waiting for them to cut out, and then waiting for the bang. Once you heard them overhead you knew you were OK, because they carried on gliding once they cut out. The rockets were worse,as there was no warning until the explosion.

LurkingHusband Fri 24-Nov-17 13:10:16

My DM had an abiding memory of walking out with her (younger DB and DS) in Croydon (DGM refused to be evacuated) and her DB - my uncle - pointing at a Doodlebug, and saying "Stop !".

And it did shock

Bang !

TheHodgeoftheHedge Fri 24-Nov-17 13:17:53

I found it incredibly moving and you're right, it puts a lot of things into perspective, doesn't it?

Thymeout Fri 24-Nov-17 13:20:29

I read somewhere that the Govt put out disinformation about the V1's and V2's. They said that the Germans had got their measurements wrong and they were landing in N London instead of Central London. As a result, the Germans altered their range, with the result that places such as Croydon in S London got clobbered. When there was a major incident, newspapers were ordered to stagger the individual death notices so that it didn't look as if scores had been killed on the same day.

LurkingHusband Fri 24-Nov-17 13:33:01

I read somewhere that the Govt put out disinformation about the V1's and V2's. They said that the Germans had got their measurements wrong and they were landing in N London instead of Central London. As a result, the Germans altered their range, with the result that places such as Croydon in S London got clobbered. When there was a major incident, newspapers were ordered to stagger the individual death notices so that it didn't look as if scores had been killed on the same day.

Censorship was everywhere, and people were suspected everywhere. (One older gentleman I knew said it makes todays paedesteria look like an Easter Egg hunt).

Spies reporting back to the Germans how effective their raids were was a constant threat. Which is why fake factories were built and details "leaked" to the Germans.

A visit to Bletchley Park, and the war of espionage is never wasted.

The story of the Man who Never Was is fascinating ...

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