From London Daily Mail
Today is the anniversary of one of the greatest photographs of World War II being taken — and of a defining moment in British history.
On the night of December 29, 1940, Daily Mail chief photographer Herbert Mason was firewatching on the roof of the newspaper’s offices between Fleet Street and the Thames. The Luftwaffe’s blitz on London was at its height: after a brief pause decreed by Hitler on Christmas Day, Goering’s bombers had resumed their almost nightly pounding of the capital.
A brief attack on December 27 inflicted 600 casualties, more than 50 of them in a single public shelter in Southwark which received a direct hit. Symbol in the smoke: Herbert Mason’s iconic photograph of St Paul’s dome emerging from the smoke of raging fires in surrounding streets was taken 70 years ago this week
Symbol in the smoke: Herbert Mason’s iconic photograph of St Paul’s dome emerging from the smoke of raging fires in surrounding streets was taken 70 years ago this week.
When darkness fell on December 29, the Heinkel and Dornier planes came again to launch their 125th attack since the campaign began — which inflicted unparalleled devastation on the old City of London.
Barely 30 minutes into the raid, Luftwaffe aircrew counted 54 major fires beneath them; in three hours of early evening bombing, 120 tons of explosive and 22,000 incendiaries fell, inflicting appalling damage.
Hundreds of buildings in the heart of the financial district were set ablaze; eight Christopher Wren churches were destroyed and the 15th-century Guildhall was set on fire.
One bomb landed near the Monument, erected by Wren to commemorate the 1666 Great Fire of London. A middle-aged spinster named Vere Hodgson, who worked in a charity shop in Notting Hill, kept a wonderful diary of the war years, especially of the Blitz.