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.
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.
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 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?