back to article London Blitz bomb web map a hit-and-miss affair

Last week a fanfare of press trumpets heralded the launch of Bomb Sight, an online map showing just where Luftwaffe bombs fell on London during the Blitz from October 1940 to June 1941. The Bomb Sight team from the University of Portsmouth "geo-referenced" the Bomb Census Survey maps held at The National Archives and "digitally …

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Anonymous Coward

Fascinating but.....

I'm keen on history and this sort of project does provide a further insight into our past.

My but comes from the hope that the Germans don't try a similar project on, Berlin, Hamburg, Cologne, Dresden, you name it, as that would not be particularly pretty.

And let's not mention Caen or various other allied towns we flattened after D Day.

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Unhappy

Re: Fascinating but.....

Actually, I think it would be a good thing if ALL sides in the war did the same.

Yes, we firebombed Dresden, and bombed many other German cities. The reasons for this are well-documented and don't need going over again. But what about Coventry and any other major city you care to name?

By doing this sort of project, it may even show the folly of war???

Downward smiley for my obvious naivety at the thought that this sort of info COULD change the world

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Re: Fascinating but.....

The map for Malta meanwhile would just be red.

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Mushroom

Re: Fascinating but.....

"My but comes from the hope that the Germans don't try a similar project on, Berlin, Hamburg, Cologne, Dresden, you name it, as that would not be particularly pretty."

Good. Then we should do it.

You can't just sanitise history because it's 'not pretty'. That would be nearly as horrific a thing to do as the original events were.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Fascinating but.....

"Berlin, Hamburg, Cologne, Dresden, you name it, as that would not be particularly pretty."

Cry me a river.

As ye reap, so shall ye sow.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Fascinating but.....

That's actually a very good point.

Disappointed about the down votes but I'm not going to go in to the rights and wrongs on what our ancestors did, under completely different circumstances to where we find ourselves today.

That's the beauty of and fascination of studying history, so we can learn of what came before us, and perhaps learn from it.

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WTF?

Re: Fascinating but.....

Dude, are you serious? Are you having a go at the Germans? If so it would no less appropriate (and no more pathetic as your comment) to say "London, Coventry, you name it..." "Cry me a river", because the English invented the modern concentration camp.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Second_Boer_War#Concentration_camps_.281900.E2.80.931902.29

The loss of any life is deplorable. Expecting empathy for a death of someone you don't know is expecting a bit much, but there's taking things too far, init.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Fascinating but.....

"Dude, are you serious? Are you having a go at the Germans?"

Well, if you can't have a go at Nazi Germany who the hell can you?

I'm not sure what the Boer war has to do with justifying the invasion of Europe and the Holocaust but I think you need to look at your values if you think it does.

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Headmaster

Re: Fascinating but.....

@ Spearchucker Jones:

The British didn't invent the concentration camp. Kitchener borrowed the idea from the Spanish re-concentration camps used in Cuba during the war of 1895-1898. They were invented by General Valeriano Weyler y Nicolau. A charming chap whose nick-name was "The Butcher".

Anyone told to move to the camps and who didn't within eight days was considered an enemy and executed.

The wiki article just says that the term became popular during this period, but they already existed prior to the Boer war.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Fascinating but.....

You should look up the names (but not just after eating, I would suggest)-

Paul Blobel:- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sonderaktion_1005 and "sardinenpackung"

Else Hirsch:- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Else_Hirsch

and Max & Lea Epstein:- http://www1.yadvashem.org/untoldstories/database/gallery.asp

Left side, halfway up. They are brother and sister, and are both undressing completely with others on a freezing beach in winter in mid-December 1941. In fact not far from today's date.

And Generalplan Ost should be interesting. Some people actually stll believe what they told the locals to keep them peaceful and unconcerned about the intended fate of the peoples around them.

You should note that the British in cooperation with Czech agents, had Blobel's boss assassinated.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Operation_Anthropoid

Sometimes equivalence isn't the full picture.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Fascinating but.....

Further, here's a clue, the prognosis wasn't looking at all encouraging for any Slavic populations -

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Generalplan_Ost

Percentages of ethnic groups targeted for elimination by Nazi Germany from future settlement areas

Ethnic group Percentage subject to removal

Poles 80-85%

Russians 50-60% to be physically eliminated and another 15% to be sent to Western Siberia.

Belorusians 75%

Ukrainians 65%

Lithuanians 85%

Latvians 50%

Estonians 0%

Czechs 50%

Latgalians 100%

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FAIL

Re: Fascinating but..... (@Robert Long 1)

Having a go at Nazis or Hitler doesn't bother me. The fact that innocent people get killed along the way does. The boer war is a counter example where the Brits were responsible for the deaths of women and children. That makes Kitchener and his army no better than Nazis or Hitler.

I'm offended by the myopic generalisation. No nation has a clean slate, and comments like yours perpetuate a generalised, stereotypical view that applies to a minority.

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Re: Fascinating but..... (@Robert Long 1)

You should change your nick to 'Shit-stirrer' Jones.

Please, continue to piss on all of our memories and histories....

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Fascinating but.....

"..Cry me a river.

As ye reap, so shall ye sow...

Actually, Churchill instigated the carpet-bombing of civilians during WW2, knowing Hitler would retaliate in kind and thus divert the luftwaffe away from the more harmful [to the Allies] bombing of military infrastructure.

Still, don't let the facts get in the way of your primary school level uncritical, unquestioning belief in the angelic innocence of the British war machine. After all, you only carve out an empire on which the sun never sets through being "jolly spiffing chaps" to anyone who opposes you, don't you?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Fascinating but.....

http://www.deathcamps.org/gas_chambers/gas_chambers_vans.html

During WW2 two types were used: small versions with about 3.5t payload for about 50 persons (Diamond, Opel Blitz, and Renault) and bigger ones with approximately 5t payload for around 70 victims (Saurer) ##the famous blue vans##. The wagons had an air-sealed car-body and looked like furniture vans. With a removable tube the exhaust fumes could be led into the car body. A barred lamp could be used to illuminate the interior.

Eberhard von Thadden, a Foreign Office official who succeeded Franz Rademacher as head of the Jewish desk, noted in his diary a visit by representatives of the Italian Fascist Party to Generalkommissar Wilhelm Kube in Minsk on 15 May 1943. Kube showed the visitors a church that was being used as a warehouse. The diary entry continues:

The Italians asked about the little packages and suitcases that were piled up in the church. Kube explained that this was all that was left of the Jews who had been deported from Minsk. Then he showed them a gas chamber in which he said Jews had been gassed. The Fascists were severely shaken."

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Anonymous Coward

Re: As ye reap, so shall ye sow.

That should be "As ye sow, so shall ye reap".

It was the military who sowed, and largely the civilians who reaped - not very fair really.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Fascinating but..... (@Robert Long 1)

Have you ever spoken to anyone who lived though WWII ?

Would you like me to get my retired friend from Norway to phone you and listen to your "ideas" and then she can offer you an appropriate response about what actually was done to her homeland? From the Finnmark farming country area in Norway, in case you wondered. She speaks very good English, and will have some very interesting stories for you.

If you can actually listen, you might learn something from someone who is a real eyewitness.

The same applies to French, Brits and other allies. You probably think all the eyewitnesses are dead and won't contradict you. You're wrong.

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Re: Fascinating but.....

Actually, Churchill instigated the carpet-bombing of civilians during WW2

madra,

Nope.

Still, don't let the facts get in the way of your primary school level uncritical, unquestioning belief in the angelic innocence of the British war machine.

Don't worry, I won't. I suggest you do a bit more research before firing both barrels though.

If we ignore the Condor Legion in the Spanish Civil war, which isn't really part of WWII, we have Japan bombing cities in China in 1937/1938. Then in 1939 the Germans did a lot of bombing of cities during the invasion of Poland, and kept it up all through the war.

I don't remember the exact details of who started the bombing of cities during the Battle of Britain, but I don't think there was much in the way of deliberate policy on the British side. There were a couple of small raids, and accidental raids (planes dumping bombs having not reached their targets), and I seem to remember Churchill ordering the bombing of Berlin after one of these on London. But then the Germans had been bombing ports, and that meant bombing the cities they were in, and factory bombing was so inaccurate at the time as to be indistinguishable from bombing civilians. When Hitler and Goering ordered the bombing of London the RAF were admittedly quite pleased that they were no longer bombing airfields and radar stations (hard on the civilians that), but there's no evidence I've ever seen to say that was deliberate strategy on the part of Churchill or the RAF.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Fascinating but.....

Britain went to war because Hitler invaded Poland. The US joined in 2 years later, only after it was attacked by the Japanese. Do you think either would have gone to war with Germany if the Nazi's had stayed within their own borders, and started sending Jews and ethnic Slavs to extermination camps?

There would probably have been lots of hand-wringing, but that might have been the extent of it. World War II wasn't fought to end the extermination camps.

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FAIL

Re: Fascinating but.....@madra

Actually, Churchill instigated the carpet-bombing of civilians during WW2

You really know jack shit about this don't you? Try searching on the term "Guernica" to see who pioneered the bombing of civilians using relatively modern heavy bombers. Or, before that, the use of Zeppelins in World War 1, again by those fine German chappies. Even in WW2, Churchill only ordered raids on Berlin on 25 August 1940 after the Luftwaffe bombed civilian areas of London the day before.

But don't let that get in the way of your bitter post imperial anger.

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Megaphone

Re: Fascinating but..... (@Spearchucker Jones

Having a go at Nazis or Hitler doesn't bother me. The fact that innocent people get killed along the way does.

How naieve. When has war ever been some polite, military only sporting event? The whole fucking point is to attack the "enemy" population and its economy. Killing the enemies troops serves no function other than enabling you to then attack their homeland. Your own military are merely the means of doing that, their military are their defence.

And why are conscripts in uniform (by your implication) a legitimate target? Whereas women working in a munitions factory, or producing food for the war effort, again by presumption they're "innocent civilians"?

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Re: Fascinating but.....

The carpet bombing of German cities was only done after the RAF had tried daylight bombing of military targets and suffered heavy casualties .

They switched to night bombing to reduce their losses ,but night bombing without any radar or any other aid early in war was a

very hit and miss appair. Mainly miss , with only about 5% of bombs getting within 5 miles of the target.

Carpet bombing did not start until 1942 when Bomber Command had built up sufficient numbers to acheive some success.

The bombing of civilian targets by the Germans was mainly in 1940 and 1941.

They did try to create a Fire Storm in London on one raid but failed as the second wave was cancelled due to bad weather.

Bombing was the only way of taking the war to the Germans, until the Invasion in June 1944.

It is just as well for the post war generations that the Germans did not win , as they would have treated you like the other enslaved people of Europe.

PS. madra, perhaps you should read up on WW2, you are a bit uninformed at the moment.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Fascinating but.....

But it may give you some clue as to who the "bad" side were, unless you are particularly dim

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Fascinating but.....

If you are still unsure, look up "phenoling" "abgespritzt" and SDG Josef Klehr.

Injecting what is commonly called "carbolic" directly into a heart ventricle of a healthy person almost certainly violates the Hippocratic Oath. Well, it would if the people doing it weren't unqualified "enthusiasts".

Especially if you do dozens per day, personally knowing what the consequences will be - well, it's not hard to understand the consequences, you can see those in front of your eyes after 15 seconds before they throw the convulsing body into the neighboring room.

If they were having a particularly enthusiastic day, they would "off" some of the prisoner-doctors as well without permission, much to the disapproval of their superiors.

Too much info for you?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Fascinating but.....

I agree, I used to think like Madra, which is actually a rational postion, before you start digging into the really dark stuff and find out who exactly was doing it and officially approving it. They tell you a little in school and in the press, but I think they don't want to scare people.

Actually travelling sometimes has the same effect too, you see and hear things they never told you at home.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Fascinating but..... (@Robert Long 1)

FYI, she ended up as a refugee in Sweden, having avoided the Reich all the way South, with the help of her mother and farmer relatives, but minus her parents' presence in the end.

She was much younger than 10yo at the time.

Her father was being made to continue work at his usual job by the Reich, he was a firefighter at a strategic mineral ore processing facility they had taken over in the North. This was despite almost daily bombing runs by the Soviets who knew that if the Reich made their planned breakout East from what they had turned into a beachhead fortress then they would lose the big port Murmansk.

Her hometown in northern Norway was the second most bombed place in Europe after Malta. They tried to just hit the factory and military bases and new fortifications.

She was chased along the ground by a Soviet plane, but it realised who she was and left, doing the usual wing-waggling signal to her. She also got to see the final military showdown at her town from a nearby hill. Of course there was nothing left after that, not even a single house to live in, so she had to head south.

She lives in th UK now.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Fascinating but..... (@Robert Long 1)

Plus there is the rather obvious moral problem of invading all of the rest of Europe militarily and trying to create a 1000-year-Reich.

If you are interested in "equivalence", here's a clue... Britain had no such intentions and wasn't enacting any.

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Thumb Up

I lived in Kent and London for most of my life and got used to seeing the gaps in the rows of houses where one or two had been destroyed by a bomb. My Uncle's first wife was killed by a bomb in the village I grew up in Kent and last time I went back there, the gap was still noticable in the street. It now been fileld in with a smaller building, but the rest of the houses in that street are all of the same style except this one.

Although you get used to seeing the gaps, stories like this remind you that most of these gaps represent a human story, frequently a tragic story...

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Anonymous Coward

There's still at least one bomb site left in the East End of London:

Shoreditch bomb site

Although the scaffolding on the long derelict building next door's new, so it may not be there much longer.

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agreed

I grew up in Pompey; there were whole areas where houses had been destroyed, those around them damaged and then all pulled down because they were unsafe. Whole blocks of open space where people had lived. The problem was that for a long time after the war, there was not the money to re-build these houses.

There was an estimate that about 10% of explosive bombs didn't explode on contact with the ground. (There were a very large number of smaller incendiaries which people often forget about.) In some cases, this was because they were rigged with devices to blow up later, often when the UXB squad were trying to make them safe. I was talking to an ex-army captain a few years ago that told me they estimate there are still many hundreds of bombs (possibly even over a thousand) that are still buried somewhere inside the M25 circle.

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I used to live just round the corner from that bomb site in Shoreditch - I believe there is another one that is now used at an NCP car park just behind the houses Here

I also believe a large number of the smaller NCP car parks were using spaces cleared by bomb damage.

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Mushroom

So does it stands for, Nazi Cleared Parking?

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Anonymous Coward

@BoldMan: The bombsite is the pit surrounded by the wooden fence to the right of the building. The car park was on the level ground to the left, although it may have been cleared as a result of being a bomb site.

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> I also believe a large number of the smaller NCP car parks

> were using spaces cleared by bomb damage.

Correct! I started working in London in 1978, and didn't get a car until a couple of years later. It took me a long time to realise that many of those handy little - but rough - car parks in London were bomb sites that had not been redeveloped, over 35 years after the war had ended.

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Mushroom

Re: agreed

I'm from Pompey too... I thought it was interesting to see that the University decided to map the London Blitz rather than Portsmouth bomb sites, but I guess they have their reasons. I hope that they do other cities too -- though terrible, the history is fascinating. I can vouch for the fact that my beloved Portsmouth took a pounding, which is now why she looks like she was hit repeatedly with the ugly stick :) PUP!

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Anonymous Coward

I wonder if the direct bomb strike on my Grandfather's house is recorded. His first wife and children were in the house when the bomb struck - it killed them all except the eldest son, who had been in the kitchen at the time and was blown out of the back door. My Grandfather came home from work to find all the houses in the road intact apart from his. As this was the height of the bombing, the remains were hastily buried at Chingford cemetery in a tiny plot with a small stone marker.

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Lots of ommissions

A pair of houses in Greyswood St, SW16 were bombed and rebuilt, but no sign of that either (we used to live opposite, and I was puzzled for some time by the discontinuity in the architecture and design).

Do they give any rough idea of what % of bombs are recorded?

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Stoke Newington

Some detail on bomb damage in N16 here:

http://www.locallocalhistory.co.uk/gsn/page58.htm

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Devil

While unfortunate for Londoners many moons ago, the same map can be overlaid on most cities and towns in Syria today.

The more things change, the more they stay the same.

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Gold badge

It's even more like London for Syrians now. As the regime have started firing off SCUDs at their own people. I don't think there's a great deal of difference between a SCUD and a V2 really. Although they seem to have less than 50, and the Germans built thousands of the buggers.

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Silver badge

I don't expect them to be accurate. There was a war on, they had more important things to do like rescue people, bury the unfortunates and try to stop the damn things coming down. The bomb maps made were to get an idea of what the Germans were aiming at, pick up on trends in their tactics, etc. so they could be defended against better.

That said, the road my house is in has a perfect line of bombs down it, whereas the surrounding areas seem to have only random scatter. At least two of the bombs would have been close enough (even given the accuracy of a hand-drawn map) to cause damage. My house was built in the 30's so no doubt, somewhere under the facade, there would be shrapnel damage if you knew where to look. And I don't even assume that all the recorded line of bombs are the *only* ones that fell - hell, we're still finding those things in major cities that people have built on a dozen times over.

My father-in-law is a professional metal-detector, more normally for WW1 and Roman artefacts. I'm going to have to get him to give my rear garden a sweep - peace of mind for me, a potential find for him.

It adds a whole new element to digging in the back garden, I can tell you.

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UXB sites

This site may be useful for those looking for UXBs. I feel a little sorry for those addresses mentioned where the bomb is known to be in their front or back garden, let alone the Latham Timber yard site where there are supposed to be 4 plus 1 in Leyton Marshes backing onto the timber yard.

http://www.contaminatedland.co.uk/sere-dip/estd-uxb.htm

May not be totally accurate but interesting for the London-based just the same.

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Mushroom

der spiegel reported the same issues earlier this year

Because the Germans keep digging up our dud munitions.

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Bronze badge

More than that: reports may have been deliberately falsified, so as not to give the enemy too much feedback. This was definitely done for the V-1 attacks in 1944 - the army, via the War Office, told the press to report the sites and times of attacks as they (the War Office) told them to report, not as actually described by witnesses. The idea being to mislead the Germans about where their bombs were falling.

I don't know if any similar programme applied during the Blitz, but it's not impossible.

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veti,

I don't think the bothered so much with false reports during the first blitz. The Germans were doing lots of flying, so had gun camera footage, and recon planes up. Plus there were lots of bombings, so they information wouldn't have been all that helpful. Though they did start playing games with the Germans' radio direction finding, and getting them to bomb fields, so they'll have had to play the propaganda game there.

By the time of the V1s and V2s the Germans would have struggled to get a recon flight above London to survive, and they were aiming blind. So they broadcast reports and used double-agents to sow disinformation to suggest the things were over-shooting London - this got the Germans to start dropping more short onto Kent. Bit hard on the people of Kent that...

They were able to do this, as it turns out MI5 had managed to catch every single German spy in the country[1], and turned a good number of them too. So the Germans just weren't getting any decent information.

[1] There was a seaside landlady in Southampton who confessed to the papers about 10 years ago, in which case she may have been the only free German agent operating in Britain - I've not seen any other mention of her, but most of my WWII history books are over 10 years old.

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Anonymous Coward

V1 strikes.

The Kansas Cosmosphere and Space Center (which is very near to me in both senses of the expression) has a whole section on the V1 and V2 bombs, including a map of V1 strikes against England. To me, this is just a part of history - the first room of the whole Hall of Space section of the museum, leading from the first rockets to the modern space program.

I had a coworker from our Stevenage facility in town, and took him there. He spent a great deal of time in that room, looking at the V1, the V2, and the map, and it drove home to me that while this was history to me, it was History to him - personally relevant.

(http://www.cosmo.org)

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Thumb Up

Re: V1 strikes.

Both my grandmothers were within 100 yards of oblivion on several occasions during the Blitz (One in Tottenham had 4 bombs land within one street of hers on 4 seperate raids, the other in Kennington where she heard the V1 engine cut out whilst sitting on the outside toilet with my infant Father in her lap).

Thanks to the prevailing winds on those occasions, I am sitting here writing this.

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Bronze badge

Re: V1 strikes. @CADmonkey

Our mam was caught in Brutal Bootle during a raid on Liverpool and legged through it to home in Toxteth.

All before my time (which might never have come), thank God.

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Meh

thanks to hitler

We live in an ex-local authority house in a part of London we could never have afforded otherwise as it was built to replace the (rather more expensive) houses destroyed by a german bomber jettisoning its bombs (apparently). It's an ill wind etc. however obviously tragic the original event was. Not that I'd ever say I owe a debt of gratitude etc as I'm sure we'd have found somewhere else to live if we'd had to.

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Mushroom

We were mislead by the authorities!

Or at least my Granny was. During the war, she lived pretty much right next door to the Battersea gasworks. At the hight of the blitz she asked a policeman what would happen should Adolf score a direct hit on the gasometer. Surely everyone would be blown to smithereens?

The plod's response was something like: "There is no need for concern Madam. The gasometer is constructed with a special valve on top, the design of which is to enable the release of the gas in a controlled fashion should a bomb hit it."

Amazingly, the daft old bird believed him and sat out the rest of the war safe in the belief that the gasometer could withstand a full-on strike from a Nazi 500lb bomb!

Despite hearing that story many, many times over the years, none of us had the heart to tell her that the copper just made up some old nonsense to shut her up and make her go away, and she went to her grave still believing it.

(Big blast icon to indicate what would actually have happened as a result of a direct hit on the gasometer...)

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