I came across a very interesting YouTube video this week, where a group of Defence Specialists set about to demonstrate the amount of damage that a single German bomb from World War II would create. The 4 part programme “Blitz Street”is presented by Tony Robinson (a well known TV Historian, regular documentary maker and actor of “The Black Adder” fame). As shown on Channel 4 in the UK.
As Tony suggests, this programme reminds us of the daily fear, struggle and damage done to ordinary people’s lives and property by the German Luftwaffe’s sustained campaign of terror. It was designed to break the will of the people into surrender. Of course we now know, despite its terrible and dire consequences, the Blitz stirred the “Bulldog Spirit” of the Londoner’s.
At school the next day after a big raid, they would call the register. All the kids would call their names out. Sometimes there would be a pause. … “where’s so-and-so?” (teacher) … “Oh they are dead Miss, their house was hit last night”.
“The hardest part was the babies. You just had to ignore what you saw. If they weren’t alive you just left them. If they were alive you got them out and laid them on the pathment so the ambulances could take them away to hospital.”- WWII Fire & Rescue, George Whelan
» “Blitz Street” can be seen at www.youtube.com.
This excellent piece substantiates my own memories and descriptions of the mass damage caused in London by the sustained period of German bombing “Blitzkrieg” that began in September 1940 through to the following May. The relentless cascade of bombs on London shaped by childhood and indeed much of my life.
In my memoirs ‘Blitz & Pieces’ I describe in detail the bombing of East London when one thousand German aircraft in a formation twenty miles wide caused indiscriminate wholesale destruction night after night, fearful that the next one to fall would have your name on it. The largest problem after the war came to a conclusion was the lack of housing stock as a result of the carpet bombing by the German Luftwaffe. This had resulted in three million houses being destroyed mainly in London and the South East, which at that time represented about a quarter of the housing stock – or one in three properties becoming non-existent.
In 1942 this was observed by the Government as becoming a challenge when the war was over – how to re-house all the homeless people? A committee was formed to study the problem and how it could be resolved. Prefabricated buildings were the answer and the ‘Prefab’ was born. Initially the design was to last for ten years to give the country time to build normal houses. However the new structures, which included a bathroom with hot and cold water, a fitted kitchen with a fridge, and besides the central heating there was also a coal fire. They were pre-constructed in factories and delivered by road transport. These quaint little houses became a common sight around the country built on spare land and bomb sites.
By nineteen fifty one, one million new council homes in the form of these buildings had been created. The strange result was these little homes of a minimum six hundred and thirty five square feet (about sixty square metres) with all the modern facilities built into them, most of the populace had not known before, were very comfortable and lasted a lot longer than the ten years of the original design. My work is available through Austin Macauley Publishers, Amazon and other outlets.
My autobiography ‘Blitz & Pieces’, the true story of how a six year old survived the Blitz,’ is Published through Austin Macauley Publishers also available at Amazon, in soft or hard back cover, plus all other outlets including ebooks.
» Further details can also be found at www.percychatteybooks.com