New series - Blitz Street

Discussion in 'United Kingdom' started by nicks, Dec 4, 2009.

  1. Mike L

    Mike L Very Senior Member

    I thought this was interesting from a technical viewpoint but I have a couple of questions:
    Why were the 'bombs' placed above ground? Surely even with 'contact' fuses due to the velocity of the bomb falling wouldn't the bomb have penetrated the gound therefore dissipating some of the blast? Obviously bomb striking an adjacent building would have similar effect to the 'experiment'.
    I would have liked to see the shrapnel effect of the larger bomb but can understand the restrictions of the programme and site. Structural damage from second bomb would, to some extent, be a follow on from the first blast but still a good comparison for a heavily bombed area.
    Both bombs were quite impressive. Certainly makes me glad I wasn't around the East End (or anywhere else for that matter) in late 1940.

  2. marcus69x

    marcus69x I love WW2 meah!!!

    Bummer! Can't believe I missed the 1st part, even though I've been wanting to see this for a while now. I even mentioned to our lass earlier that it was on.

    Guess I've been a tad too busy building a Ghostbusters Proton pack for an up and coming fancy dress party. :rolleyes:
  3. Owen

    Owen -- --- -.. MOD

  4. marcus69x

    marcus69x I love WW2 meah!!!

    Cheers Owen and Andy. I'll watch it tomorrow.

    Nice one.
  5. Ron Goldstein

    Ron Goldstein WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran

    As she who must be obeyed was not over keen to see this, I've taped it (actually saved it on DVD but automatically used the expression "taped it").

    Will watch it when I have time and will report back when I've watched it.

  6. Ron Goldstein

    Ron Goldstein WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran

    Back on the same subject.

    I've just watched the first installment of "Blitz Street" and this, for what it's worth is what a survivor of the Blitz thought of it.

    Firstly, I had a look back on the forum to see what I'd previously written about those times and thought this snippet would be enough to set the scene :

    Looking back on my numerous (some would say too numerous) postings, I see that in the main I have concentrated on the period 1942-1946 and written about my life in the army.

    I thought it might be an idea, while I am still able to, to redress the balance and write of life in wartime Britain in the period September 3rd 1939 until 1st October 1942 .

    On that date, the goverment of the time realised that if they were to finish the war sucessfully they had better call me up.

    I went back to my memoirs and found this item.

    I was living at the time in Sandringham Road in Dalston, North London and as one of the younger members of the family we had just returned to London after living in Hove,

    September 1940
    Saturday, 7th
    The long feared Blitzkrieg, promised to England by Hitler just over a year ago, finally arrived this afternoon with a bomber force of over 300 Luftwaffe planes filling the skies over London. By the time the waves of bombers had finished their work more than 400 people had been killed and over 1600 badly injured.

    Almost every evening for over a month we slept in our Anderson Shelters in the garden. Come the morning we would go out into the still smouldering streets and look with horror at the havoc that had been caused. We would make our way to work, by bus, if we were lucky and everyone at work would have their own story as to how they were lucky to have survived the night.

    Back to yesterday's TV program.

    I liked Tony Robinson's commentary and felt that he was being entirely honest in his search for what it must have been like in reality.

    The re-constructed set, apart from any actual research being derived from the explosions themselves had no effect on me at all. The buildings were too new and too clean. The buildings were empty shells completely devoid of any life, including the poor buggers who, in real life, would have been inside them at the time of impact.

    The main saving grace of the program were the many newsreel clips which did bring it all back to me.

    I remind myself that I actually saw this first wave of bombers come over, saw the flames arising over dockland and smelt the fire from as far away as Dalston.

    I also saw the newsreel shots the next week of Churchill being cheered by the survivors of that first raid and probably joined in with the cinema audience.

    I missed the sticky tape on the windows, I'm sure we had those up by that date ?

    I look forward to the rest of the series.

    nicks likes this.
  7. Oggie2620

    Oggie2620 Senior Member


    Its fab to have your comments on this programme :). I thought the best bits of the programmes was where they talked to people who went through it and the newsreel bits. Someone of cfww2 commented that you had to live through things to really understand them (I dont think it was about that programme but the same is true) but if it helps us young uns to understand a little bit more then all power to their elbow.

    Are they going to talk to people in Germany too? Probably not though the experience would be the same....

  8. Rob Dickers

    Rob Dickers 10th MEDIUM REGT RA

    Could'nt believe the milk bottle + pram relatively untouched after both explosions, it made for better understanding of the effects.
    Good stuff
  9. Oggie2620

    Oggie2620 Senior Member

    They built them better in those days!
  10. marcus69x

    marcus69x I love WW2 meah!!!

    Watched it earlier. Thought it was quite interesting although I'm not not impressed with the second bomb not having any casing. To get a truly realistic effect, I'd have thought you would need the shrapnel too. Also, I'd have thought a bomb falling from a height would have had a lot more energy, thus creating more damage?

    Looking forward to the next part though.
  11. DoctorD

    DoctorD WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran

    Hi Ron
    When you lived in Dalston I was employed as a Messenger at the ARP Control Centre under Leyton Town Hall, altough I was also in the Hackney ATC as well as the Home Guard. The Blitz Street programme brought back a few memories too and promoted me also to revisit my memoires, as abridged below.

    Whilst all this was going on enemy action, on the home front, had hotted up with Air Raid sirens sounding with the approach of darkness, throughout August 1940. Although the All Clear was then generally sounded within a couple of hours with, thankfully, no local incidents, we had always taken the precaution of moving into our back garden Anderson shelter. We noted that prior to the sirens being sounded the BBC radio programmes suddenly faded, presumable through the shut-down of the London transmitters to prevent their use as navigation aids. This had the advantage of providing us with an early warning to enable us to gather the blankets, hurricane lamps, thermos flasks, warm clothing and other wherewithal for our sojourn in the shelter. Although built to accommodate just four occupants we did invite our elderly next-door neighbour, to join us. Unfortunately, he spent most of the night incessantly puffing his pipe so that, with a potato sack hung at the entrance to keep out the cold night air, the enclosed atmosphere soon became oppressive. When venturing out to the toilet, or to collect a forgotten item from the house, there was often the throbbing of enemy aircraft engines to be heard, running asynchronously to confuse the acoustic direction finders that were then in use for directing the searchlights and anti-aircraft guns installed on Hackney Marshes.

    With time, the sequence through green, yellow and orange to Red Alert became more refined so that sirens only sounded in the specific sectors where ‘activity’ was imminent. Hence, it was quite possible to witness incidents that were occurring outside the immediate vicinity, generally from a vantage point, such as the Firewatchers’ sandbagged shelters that were erected atop prominent buildings. The sight of St Paul’s Cathedral silhouetted against the orange glow of surrounding fires stands out still in my memory, viewed from the ‘safety’ of the Firewatchers’ shelter on the Town Hall roof.

    The London Blitz began in earnest on 7th September 1940, reportedly with 300 bombers, escorted by 600 fighter planes. The raid started in the East End and continued into the City of London. This one raid alone caused more than 1000 fires, killing over 400, with 1600 badly injured casualties. Two power stations and three railway stations were damaged together with a number of factories and many homes. Nightly raids continued throughout September and October, during which time Marble Arch Underground station was hit, with many casualties among those sheltering there, and Lambeth Walk was destroyed. By mid October more than 250,000 people were made homeless and 3000 unexploded bombs were waiting to be defused in Greater London, some being fitted with delayed action fuses.

    There was some respite in November 1940, when the Luftwaffe concentrated on Coventry, but the offensive was resumed on 29th December when incendiaries were dropped in the City of London, causing 1400 fires, including one conflagration which covered half a square mile – the one I had observed from ‘safety’! Sporadic raids continued, generally on a one or two per month basis, each employing 550 to 700 bombers, through to May 1941, with as many as 1500 people killed and 1800 badly injured each time. In January 1941 the Bank Underground shelter took a direct hit killing more than 100 people with innumerable badly injured. The incendiary bombs were cylindrical, about 14 inches long and 2½ inches in diameter, with a four-veined tail at the top and a blunt removable plug at the bottom end which could be unscrewed for access to the impact-sensitive fuse. The incendiaries were packed into cylindrical containers, about 10 feet long and 18 inches diameter which, dropped by parachute, opened at a predetermined altitude to scatter the contents within a concentrated area. High explosive parachute ‘mines’ were also dropped. By now, more sophisticated methods of predicting aircraft positioning were in place, and we had always had barrage balloons deployed to prevent low flying aircraft. Vehicles fitted with rapid firing Bofors AA guns also patrolled the streets as mobile air defences, to augment the static gun emplacements and searchlight sites that were more vulnerable to attack.

    The knowledge we had gleaned during Dad’s earlier Air Raid Warden training proved to be of value one evening when Dad and I were given a lift home in an Army lorry from a Home Guard drill, during an air raid, to be greeted by the shriek of falling incendiary bombs, one of which landed on the pavement and blazed blindingly just a few feet away from our front door. Being the first out of the truck, I instinctively rolled under it to take cover, before realising my folly. As I saw my father jump out to deal with the bomb I rolled back out and by a hair’s breadth managed to avoid the wheels as the driver took off in a hurry. As we dived for the porch to avoid the falling shrapnel from the anti-aircraft barrage Dad nearly tripped over another unexploded incendiary which had ricocheted off our roof and landed near to the doorstep. Just to make sure it was safe we upended a bucket of sand over it. Some time later, by elder brother took great delight in de-fusing it, emptying out the magnesium powder filling, which he set alight in small quantities. The equally highly flammable casing, that was machined from a solid block of magnesium alloy, was kept as a family trophy for many years, in the fireplace! A similarly disarmed hand grenade was also kicking around for some time as a war trophy.

    So much for Elf 'n safety (nobody said "Don't try this at home":unsure:). Nobody measured the blast force in KILO-PASCALS!
    nicks, Gage and dbf like this.
  12. Ron Goldstein

    Ron Goldstein WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran


    Back in the '30s there was a Cole Porter ( I think) song, made famous by Fred Astaire, that began "The way you wear your hat" and concluded with the punch line "Oh no, you can't take that away from me "

    Whenever I read reminiscences like yours, I feel I want to clap you on the back and say "Well remembered mate........they can't take that away from you !"

    I am lucky enough to have two lovely daughters & five smashing grandkids aged, respectively, 17, 18, 20, 21 & 24.

    Whenever they visit us and if the subject of conversation gets around to a forthcoming birthday, one of my daughters will inevitably say "when Granddad was your age his tank was stuck in a ditch in Italy" or mention some other buttock clenching episode in Sicily, when I was still young and foolish.

    The kids respectfully try not to raise their eyebrows or laugh out loud as they visualise this white bearded old chap performing these implausable acts of derring-do..

    As the years progress, memories, such as the powerful ones you recount above, are an important part of our lives. Having a forum like ww2talk on which to air them is a very much to our own benefit.

    If others also enjoy reading them, then that, in my book, is a bonus.

    Lets have some more mate !

    Best regards

  13. chrisharley9

    chrisharley9 Senior Member

  14. DoctorD

    DoctorD WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran


    As the years progress, memories, such as the powerful ones you recount above, are an important part of our lives. Having a forum like ww2talk on which to air them is a very much to our own benefit.

    If others also enjoy reading them, then that, in my book, is a bonus.


    Quite agree. It's nice to have appreciation from such a distinguished fellow vet. Your mention of Dalston rattled the memory a bit as, at that time my father managed a shop opposite Ridley Road market.

    I didn't let on about WW2 matters until five years ago, for fear of being regarded as another silly old f*rt apparently seeking glory. But having just then visited the graves of my old RAF u/t room mates, in Bayeux Cemetry, and found that their sacrifice was neither acknowledged or reported anywhere, I felt I owed it to them to do something about it, as witnessed elsewhere on this forum.

    This coincided with my eldest greatgranddaugher (now 15!) asking me to write a contribution for her school project; which triggered me to expand it to cover much earlier and later family events. The rest is (maybe, at times, chronologically inaccurate) history.

    Keep staying above ground, Ron.

  15. Ron Goldstein

    Ron Goldstein WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran


    It's good to be able to chat like this, the phrase "a lot in common" jumps to mind :)

    Have you perchance got a copy of Juliet Gardiner's paperback "Wartime Britain-1939-1945" ?

    The reason I ask is because I think this is one of the "greats" when it comes to background on the Blitz.

    Take for example Page 337.

    I was re-reading this last night and came across this reference to the first big raid and the fact that Shoreditch also received a "right bashing". When I smelt the burning (see my earlier article) it obviously wasn't the Docks but much nearer at hand, Shoreditch being just a tuppeny bus ride away South of Dalston.

    Live & Learn !


    Attached Files:

  16. nicks

    nicks Very Senior Member

    Les and Ron

    Thank you both for posting your memories, very much appreciated.


  17. DoctorD

    DoctorD WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran

    Thanks for the tip. Will be taking delivery of a copy within the next few days. Together with my nephew's new book on wartime radar sites, it'll be a good read for my holiday, in June.

    Thanks or your comment

    Regards to both
  18. Susan Smethurst

    Susan Smethurst Senior but too talkative

    Currently watching Blitz Street on Channel 4-very interesting. Contemporary recollections of people who were children in the Coventry raid and reconstructions of impact of explosives.

    Anyone else watching it
  19. CL1

    CL1 116th LAA and 92nd (Loyals) LAA,Royal Artillery

    Hello Susan
    saw the first one last week
    will watch it at ten

    very interesting
  20. Drew5233

    Drew5233 #FuturePilot Patron 1940 Obsessive

    I've Sky+ the 2nd episode but the first was excellent apart from that dam bottle of milk...The only reason I can think of why it didn't break is because it is curdled !

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