(Greenwich).  The raid which occurred on the 24th was the first real raid on London so far as I am concerned, i.e. the first in which I could hear the bombs.  We were watching at the front door when the East India docks were hit.  No mention of the docks being hit in Sunday’s papers, so evidently they do conceal it when important objectives are hit . . . . . . It was a loudish bang but not alarming and gave no impression of making the earth tremble, so evidently these are not very large bombs that they are dropping.  I remember the two big bombs that dropped near Huesca when I was in the hospital at Monflorite.  The first, quite 4 kilometres away, made a terrific roar that shook the houses and sent us all fleeing out of our beds in alarm.  Perhaps that was a 2000 lb. bomb[1] and the ones at present being dropped are 500 lb. ones.

They will have to do something very soon about localising alarms.  At present millions of people are kept awake or kept away from work every time an aeroplane appears over any part of London.

[1] In this raid, the first bombs fell on central London; St Giles’s Church, Cripplegate, was hit.  Although eleven-ton blockbuster bombs were later dropped by the RAF, at this stage of the war 2,000-pound bombs were not available.  In the attack on Woolwich Arsenal and the London docks on 7 September 1940, some 300 German bombers dropped 337 tons of bombs – an average of 2,500 pounds per plane.  Orwell may have had parachute mines, or their effect, in mind here.  Churchill wrote General Ismay a memorandum on 19 September 1940 noting that the Germans had dropped 36 parachute mines.  He wanted an appropriate response – 1,000-pound bombs if parachute mines were not available.  The disadvantage of the parachute mine, except as a weapon of terror, was that, released at 5,000 feet, anything might be hit.  See Winston Churchill, The Second World War, II, 321-22; U.S.: Their Finest Hours, 364. Peter Davison

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6 Responses to 26.8.40

  1. Pingback: Anonymous

  2. Pingback: Airminded · Post-blogging 1940

  3. wordsmithsuk says:

    These raids must have been terrifying – I don’t know how anyone could sleep through any of it. It is interesting that Orwell writes in dry practical term, not reporting any of the horror of deaths, injury or destruction or the fear that these may happen at any time. Maybe it is early days yet.

    My mother lived through some of the blitz and always hated the sound of fireworks afterwards.

  4. 28 August 1940 excerpt:

    Night operations by beam-riding He-111s of KGr 100 include an attempt to pathfind to Liverpool and Sealand RAF base near Chester. The bombers went so far astray that the British thought that the Midlands and London area were the main targets. The bombers also hit London, Birmingham, Bournemouth, Derby, Manchester and Sheffield. At Avonmouth (Bristol) the Shell Mex installations and the National Smelting Co. works were hit, Coventry shops and houses were damaged and in Altrincham (Cheshire) a 50,000 gallon oil tank at the Anglo-American oil depot caught fire.

  5. Barry Larking says:

    The British were aware of the beams and intercepted (‘bent’ them) them using counter measures – an early example of electronic warfare.

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