Memory and identity: a personal history – Mathew Lyons

My father is in the early stages of Alzheimer’s. He will be 90 this year. He grew up close by the docks in Beckton, East London, which are now long gone. He remembers seeing the first wave of German bombers flying over London on September 7, 1940.

He was stationed in the Pacific when he joined the Navy in 1944; he has photos of Nagasaki taken a few weeks after it was destroyed by the atomic bomb.

At Cambridge after the war, he joined the Communist Party only to leave in the 1950s, disheartened by the party’s refusal to fully endorse the democratic process. At least, this is what I remember being told long ago, when facts seemed more stable than they do now.He spent almost his entire working life in…

Source: Memory and identity: a personal history – Mathew Lyons

The Churchill Coventry Myth – Beachcombing’s Bizarre History Blog

Originally posted on Beachcombing’s Bizarre History Blog.

bombed-out-cathedralMoonlight Sonata was the German code name for the bombing raid on Coventry 14 Nov 1940, the first major German bombing raid on a British civilian target. Over five hundred German bombers shimmied over the city in thirteen waves. Most estimates put the number of deaths at just over five hundred hundred and the damage to the town was devastating: Coventry’s centre is entirely modern for the very simple reason that it had to be rebuilt from scratch. The memory of Coventry died hard. When British troops prepared to run onto Normandy beaches in June 1944 the loudspeakers on some ships instructed them to ‘Remember Coventry, Remember Dunkirk’, the great civilian and the great military disasters of the British war in the west. So much for the facts. Behind the disaster there is a longstanding conspiracy theory: namely that Churchill sacrificed Coventry to make sure that the Germans did not know that enigma had been broken. The conspiracy theory is expressed nicely in a novel by Robert Harris, Enigma (1995).

‘I think, it’s possible to know too much. When Coventry was bombed, remember? Our beloved Prime Minister discovered from Enigma what was going to happen about four hours in advance. Know what he did?’ Again Jericho shook his head. ‘Told his staff that London was…

Source: The Churchill Coventry Myth – Beachcombing’s Bizarre History Blog

The London Blitz, 1940

Originally posted on Eyewitness to History.

blitz1The appearance of German bombers in the skies over London during the afternoon of September 7, 1940 heralded a tactical shift in Hitler’s attempt to subdue Great Britain. During the previous two months, the Luftwaffe had targeted RAF airfields and radar stations for destruction in preparation for the German invasion of the island. With invasion plans put on hold and eventually scrapped, Hitler turned his attention to destroying London in an attempt to demoralize the population and force the British to come to terms. At around 4:00 PM on that September day, 348 German bombers escorted by 617 fighters Sept. 7, 1940 – the beginning of theLondon Blitz blasted London until 6:00 PM. Two hours later, guided by the fires set by the first assault, a second group of raiders commenced another attack that lasted until 4:30 the following morning.

This was the beginning of the Blitz – a period of intense bombing of London and other cities that continued until the following May. For the next consecutive 57 days, London was bombed either during the day or night. Fires consumed many portions of the city. Residents sought shelter wherever they could find it – many fleeing to the Underground stations that sheltered as many as 177,000 people during the night. In the worst single incident, 450 were killed when…

Source: The London Blitz, 1940