Wednesday 29 December 2010

The Anniversary Of An Iconic Picture

Seventy years ago tonight, during the Blitz of WW2, an incendiary bomb fell onto St Pauls Cathedral and started a massive fire. People watching thought the great cathedral was doomed.

Two teams of specialist fire watchers recruited from the Royal Institute of British Architects — and hand-picked because they had heads for heights — were soon ­crawling along the wooden beams with hand pumps to reach the ­blazing section.

But suddenly the incendiary bomb, having burnt through the wood, fell far, far to the nave below, where it was easily put out. Though almost every building around St Paul’s ­perished, the cathedral survived.

blitz st pauls

Herbert Mason, a Daily Mail photographer was on the roof of the paper’s offices, less than a mile away, watching the conflagration.

'The glare of many fires and sweeping clouds of smoke kept hiding the shape. Then a wind sprang up. ­Suddenly, the shining cross, dome and towers stood out like a symbol in the inferno. The scene was unbelievable. In that moment or two, I released my shutter’

The next morning, it was bitterly cold. There was a light scattering of snow as office worker Dorothy ­Barton emerged from London Bridge station on her way to work. She gazed in horror at the acres of smoking and still burning ruins —then her heart lifted as she looked up at St Paul’s, towering over the scene. ‘I felt a lump in my throat because, like so many people, I felt that while St Paul’s survived, so would we,’ she said. [full story here


  1. There are obviously many reasons why I love this blog, but today's reason is that when I have missed something on the news again- like a brief glimpse of this photo- I can catch it all up here, or even when I do catch something on the news- Brian H's funeral, I have already been primed here. Oh you do so keep me right! Did you see us on the news tonight? We're so far fine, but very cross at conditions across province.

  2. Hi Mags - been watching NI on the news and speculating as to whether you are OK. It does seem as if things are a bit grim over there.

    Happy New Year, anyway!


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