December 2020 marks 80 years since the Christmas Blitz, a bleak time for several of the UK’s major cities, which came under heavy bombing by the Germans around Christmas 1940.
The Second World War was in its relative infancy at the time, and in urban centres around England, people were adapting to the realities of spending nights in air raid shelters or on Underground station platforms.
While London had been a target for German bombs for some time, in autumn 1940 the attention had also moved to cities in the north-west. As Christmas approached, both Manchester and Liverpool came under fire.
The Christmas Blitz in London
London’s Blitz is probably the best known by many people nationwide. On December 29th 1940, the Christmas Blitz in London saw around 100,000 bombs dropped in a few hours.
The results were devastating and were called ‘the Second Great Fire of London’ by some. Firefighters and volunteers battled through the night to save local landmarks.
One photograph taken that night shows the dome of St Paul’s Cathedral emerging above the smoke and flames, and has become an iconic image of the war.
But London was not the only target of the Christmas Blitz, as many residents of the north-west remember all too well.
The Christmas Blitz in Liverpool
Before the barrage of London bombing began, Liverpool was hit badly over several nights on December 20th-22nd 1940, which is regarded as the Christmas Blitz in Liverpool.
Several air raid shelters were hit directly. On December 20th, a direct hit killed 42 people, and a further 40 who were sheltering beneath the Bentinck Street railway arches were also killed.
The next night, another 74 Liverpudlians died when their air raid shelter was bombed. For neighbouring Manchester, the worst was still to come.
The Christmas Blitz in Manchester
The Christmas Blitz in Manchester started on the evening of December 22nd and continued into the morning of Christmas Eve.
Over two nights, more than 2,000 people were injured and 684 were killed. Local landmark buildings were also damaged, including the Free Trade Hall, Royal Exchange, and Manchester Cathedral.
Incendiary bombs lit large fires that highlighted targets for later German planes and burned through Manchester’s textiles warehouses. Unfortunately, many local fire crews were still in Liverpool, where they were battling blazes from the previous few nights’ bombs.
Remembering the Christmas Blitz
Other parts of the UK were also hit hard during the Blitz, including during the Christmas Blitz of 1940. On December 24th, a German plane also crashed into the sea off the coast near Blackpool.
Eighty years on, we remember the deaths, damage and disruption caused by these events, and give thanks for a relatively peaceful period in Europe in the 21st century, which allows us to celebrate Christmas 2020 in safety.
Karl – 07708692551
John – 07788552071