Blitz walk: railway bridge at Bermondsey

Blitz walk: railway bridge at Bermondsey

Originally uploaded by Sladey

This moody little shot comes from a guided Blitz walk we did last Friday.

Mum became interested in the effects of the Blitz in South London when she discovered the Luftwaffe crack in the loft. She found a tour guide who was able to give her a map of the area circa 1942, which showed a massive hit in the middle of Ivydale Road. It destroyed about ten houses, and damaged the whole street. The tour guide also did guided walks like this one around Bermondsey and Surrey Docks.

We found out a lot about wartime life that we didn’t know before. Railway arches were often used as air raid shelters and emergency relief stations by local workers and families. We were shown two that were completely destroyed, killing nearly dozens of people taking refuge from the bombing. Schools were turned into fire and ambulance stations; and the Peak Freans factory in Surrey Docks was considered a legitimate target because it sent food parcels to PoWs in Germany.

When I was growing, people talked about the spirit of the Blitz – of how Londoners came together to fight Hitler. I’m not doubting it: there was a real mood of defiance after the 2005 bombings. But it was also a time of uncertainty and death, where your whole life could disappear in seconds. It made me think of all those people who are going through exactly the same thing, over sixty years on.

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