Friday, January 21, 2011

London as a Historic Battlefield

Stephen Russell describes the explorations he has made of London to investigate how the city was shaped by bombing during World War II. He uses the bomb damage maps made at the end of the war (above) as his starting point:
Looking at these map helps to explain the cluster of old and modern buildings that can be seen not just in the center of London but also in the towns that make up the suburbs of London. It also explains why some buildings seems to have had stories removed or missing when compared to buildings nearby. This can be clearly seen in the town of Orpingtion only 8 miles from the center of London.

Between 13th of April 1944 and 27th of March 1945, no fewer than 63 V1 flying bombs and 14 V2s hit Orpingtion. The impact point where these bombs landed would have experienced total devastation. A scientific reconstruction carried out in 2010 demonstrated that the V2 creates a crater 20 m wide and 8 m deep, throwing up around 3,000 tons of material into the air. As the blast spread-out it would cause blast damage to other houses nearby, reducing in effect as the distance increased from the point of impact. This would have ensured few houses or buildings would have escaped the effect of the bombs. Many of the houses in Orpingtion were patched up and later repaired properly, others were knocked down and new buildings being built to replace them. Some of the houses would have their top stories destroyed or so serverely damaged that the house was repaired by its removal. Where there had been major incidents and damage, this led to the building of completely new blocks and even new streets.

This is clearly seen in the centre of Orpingtion where one side of the High street is comprised of buildings from the 1950s or 60s while the other side is comprised of buildings from the mid 1930s. This is explained when you look at the Bomb Damage Maps which show that the more recent buildings are sited on areas that suffered the heaviest bomb damage.

1 comment:

ThursdayNext said...

Hi John!

This made me think of a duology that you might like to read. Time traveling historians get stuck in the Blitz! Blackout and All Clear are the titles. There are other discrete novels within the universe but these are the only two that must be read together and in order. Oh! and the author is Connie Willis