Moments in History

Blitz Bombing

On my honeymoon, Mrs. engineerd™ and I had the fortune to visit two very historic cities — London and Paris. My wife, hardly a nostalgic person, noted that her favorite of the two was London. Part of this was a language thing, but the other part was, and I quote, “Paris is so old.” I pointed out to her that if Britain had capitulated, they would have kept most of their old buildings as well.

The Battle of Britain took a huge toll on London and its denizens. Not just in lives lost, 40,000, but in damage to the buildings and infrastructure of London. More than one million houses were destroyed. Londoners for 57 straight nights were terrorized by German bombs. By mid-September 1939, over 150,000 Londoners were living in the Underground, one of the safer places to be in the city. It wasn’t just London, though that was the nexus. Sixteen British cities were attacked.

A census of all bomb sites was performed by the government. Until now, the data for this census only existed in the National Archives. A project called the Bomb Sight has placed every bomb that landed on London on an interactive map. Users can scroll in, select an individual bomb, and read about the bomb and what was going on nearby. Photographs from nearby locations give users a feel for what life in London was like for those terrifying months.

It’s a fascinating look at history.

  • I've been trying to think of a good joke about this being a map of Russel Brand appearances.

  • Vairship

    Those poor animals in the London Zoo!
    Also, since the dots remain the same size, as you zoom out eventually all of London turns into a big red blob of dots. Amazing (and terrifying) to think that this was just the impact during the Blitz, a fairly short period. All the V2s etcetera aren't included. Plus there are probably plenty of bombs they don't even know about that are still there, unexploded.

  • The Professor

    I saw Bombsight the other day, and it's just incredible how many bombs were dropped on the London area.
    On a related note, I found a video the other day of the Time Team TV show where they do a dig on the Shoreditch area of London, an area that's now a big park but used to be a poor neighborhood during WWII. They try to find bomb damage on certain houses and talk to survivors that used to live there. It's quite interesting.
    [youtube buS8203B1Dg youtube]