Interactive map shows scope of London Blitz

London Blitz

Glancing at a recently created interactive map showing the location of bombs dropped on London during The Blitz one wonders how anyone survived the barrage of Luftwaffe ordnance.

“When you look at these maps and see the proliferation of bombs dropped on the capital, it does illustrate the meaning of the word Blitz, which comes from the German meaning lightning,” said Kate Jones, the University of Portsmouth geographer who devised the project.

“It seems astonishing that London survived the onslaught,” she added.

The year-long project, called Bomb Sight and devised using data from the UK’s National Archive, reveals the devastation caused by The Blitz over a little more than eight months, according to the BBC.

More than 20,000 people were killed, more than one million London homes destroyed or damaged and 1.4 million left homeless during Nazi bombings of London, which took place between Sept. 7, 1940, and May 21, 1941.

The Blitz, though ultimately unsuccessful in its goal of either demoralizing the British into surrender or significantly damaging the country’s war economy, only came to an end when Hitler began to ramp up preparations for Operation Barbarossa, Germany’s invasion of the Soviet Union.

German bomber over England during the Blitz.

German bomber over England during the Blitz.

The Blitz didn’t focus solely on London, either. Birmingham, Liverpool, Plymouth, Bristol, Glasgow, Southampton and Portsmouth were among many other UK cities attacked.

The University of Portsmouth project looks only at London, however.

The project enables individuals who visit the website to zoom in on specific streets on the map, which uses red symbols to illustrate where each bomb landed. The project used maps of the London bomb census, taken between October 1940 and June 1941, a spokesman told the BBC.

The bombing locations were combined with geo-located photographs from the Imperial War Museum, and oral histories recorded in the BBC’s WWII People’s War Archive, according to the BBC.

(Above: Graphic showing distribution of German bombs dropped on London during The Blitz, September 1940-May 1941. To the right is the River Thames and the North Sea. Source: BBC.)

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12 thoughts on “Interactive map shows scope of London Blitz

  1. It is astounding that people lived to tell the tale, isn’t it?

    Have you heard of the BBC series Blitz Street by Tony Robinson (whose shows I always love). They built a replica street of the times, then bombed it with all the different types of bombs used during the blitz.
    It was amazing to see the damage done to the buildings. How did people just get up and keep going?

    • I’ve not heard of the series but it sounds fascinating. I’ll have to look it up.

      I think people kept going because the Blitz had the opposite effect of that intended: Instead of cowing the British into surrender, it stiffened their resolve.

      But it must have been a harrowing time.

      • It is a wonderful series and well worth watching. They also had an Anderson shelter built in one garden to see how effective one of them was in saving lives.

        They also interviewed people who survived the bombings and it is awful to see how affected they still are even after all these years. Being bombed and losing friends and still having to go on and go to work or school the next day.

        One of the women said that even though the public face was one of resolve she, and everyone in her neighbourhood, would have surrendered just to stop the nightly horror, it is just that the government soldiered on anyway.
        I expect that the end result was one of cementing their resolve to stand against the enemy but at the time I guess it was all about day to day survival.

      • Metan, I think you are right; this old woman that went through it was tough with my piano lessons when I was a kid and got that way by living in England during the war.

      • Wow, that’s a viewpoint that has been downplayed, but I can only imagine how hard it would be to be subjected to such horror.

        It really would be a wonder if the vast majority of people who had to endure such attacks didn’t ultimately suffer from some sort of psychological problems.

      • Well what did they expect, England declared war on Germany. It was also the other way around to, England and the USA bombed Dresden and an estimated civilians killed was 120,000. All the German soldiers weren’t even in that town.

  2. when it comes to the blitz I always think, “wow, ONLY 20,000 killed in all that?” And for sure we more than retaliated at Dresden and Tokyo and Hiroshima and to my way of thinking it is shameful that we unjustly killed so many innocent men, women and children. I do understand it though, or try to, given the context of the times and all the soldiers and sailors we lost and the very real and evil threat that our military enemies Germany and Japan were to civilians and everyone else in the world. The only real Hell is war and it makes hellions of everybody.

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