Bombed London Under Snow

January 1942: London stands in ruins and covered in snow after German bombing in the Second World War. A crane and truck can be seen clearing debris.

St Paul’s Cathedral – which survived the Blitz – is in the background.

From the collection of the Imperial War Museums.

bombed-london-in-the-snowThe destruction around St Paul's Cathedral air raid on London is softened by a heavy dusting of snow. mobile crane and truck can be seen work to clear up some of

The aftermath of an air raid.

London was bombed by the Nazis on the 29th of December, 1940. Now world-famous photographer Cecil Beaton took this image after the attack. The bell towers of St Paul’s Cathedral in the City can be seen in the background, showing how close the internationally-renowned building came to being destroyed.

Some of the most famous images of the Second World War (e.g.) involved the cathedral surviving Nazis bombs.

The Western Bell Towers of St Paul’s Cathedral After the Incendiary Raid of 29 December, London.

Cecil Beaton, 'The Western Bell Towers of St Paul's Cathedral After the Incendiary Raid of 29 December, London', 1940.

The Second Great Fire of London

I’m going to be honest and admit I’d forgotten all about “The Second Great Fire of London” until I was randomly Googling images of London a few weeks ago and came across this photo of St Paul’s Cathedral. It is one of the iconic photographs of London, titled, St Paul’s Survives.

 The Blitz London 29th December 1940

I briefly lived and worked in a building that was rebuilt immediately after The Great Fire of London, and I always associate the words “Great Fire” with 1666. Of course, this was a very different kind of fire, an act of war, and it took place some 274 years later.

 Detail of the Great Fire of London by an unknown painter.

The Second Great Fire took place from the 29th to the 30th of December, 1940, when London came under heavy fire from Germany. Over 24,000 high explosive bombs and 100,000 incendiary bombs were dropped.


Ironically, the Germans used the picture in their own publications, as proof the bombing was working. How strange that a photograph can be used for two such different purposes.

 The cover of Berliner Illustrierte Zeitung, which published this image in their January 1941 issue as proof that their bombing campaign was working.

The bombing left hundreds dead and injured and destroyed many of London’s famous buildings. Every time I think of World War Two, all I can think is: What a waste. What did it achieve?