As we constantly fret about air pollution, road safety and stifling property prices, it’s easy to forget that London has survived far scarier times.
A year into the Second World War, the German Luftwaffe launched an unprecedented aerial assault on the UK’s major cities, dropping more than 100 tons of explosives on the country over the course of 37 weeks. London was attacked 71 times, damaging more than a million homes and killing around 20,000 Londoners.
The photos that have survived the three quarters of a century since are at once upsetting and uplifting. Though they show familiar places reduced to dusty tatters, the stiff, unemotional reactions of the Londoners they depict say a lot about our character. If we can deal with this, we can deal with anything.
Holborn, October 25 1940
Brixton, September 7 1940
Burlington Arcade, September 17 1940
Kingsway, September 11 1940
London Zoo, November 24 1940
Ludgate Hill, date unknown
St Paul's Cathedral, March 7 1941
Tate Gallery, October 8 1940
Tottenham Court Road, November 15 1940