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Berlin, Richard E., 1894- / Diary of a flight to occupied Germany, July 20 to August 27, 1945.
(1945?)

Conditions in London,   pp. 17-19 PDF (756.0 KB)


Page 18

We saw the rear of St. Paul's Cathedral which had been hit
although the damage to St. Paul's itself was little. A number of
beautiful old Christopher Wren churches have been obliterated.
Fleet Street, the newspaper district, had been mangled. I stopped
at our old magazine office, 153 Queen Victoria Street, which holds
many happy memories. It is blown almost beyond recognition.
We visited a spot in Chelsea where 130 American soldiers were
killed by a rocket bomb while in morning parade.
In the Battersea section the Germans, trying to destroy a huge
electric power plant, destroyed everything surrounding it but never
hit the plant. It reminds me of a story one of the correspondents
told me of the accuracy of their bombing in Europe. For three
days they tried to bomb a certain bridge-he figured the safest
place to be was in the middle of the bridge, so he parked himself
there and came through safely.
Inspected the Air Raid shelters and were impressed with their
construction and efficiency. In the poor sections we saw the
shelter known as an "Anderson" of corrugated iron, built like an
Eskimo igloo and installed in yards of cottages on the outskirts.
Though all the homes around would be demolished, we could see
block after block of these shelters intact. You don't have to draw
on your imagination too much to realize the privations of these
people, being compelled to sleep night after night in small, crude
air-raid shelters, through London's cold, clammy winter weather.
A friend who came in for tea told me the windows of his
flat were blown out three times, or rather, twice blown in and
once blown out. The rocket bombs created a void and in many
instances, the concussion pulled the windows out of buildings
rather than blew them in.
You see thousands of buildings with the entire window struc-
ture bricked in and then a little peep-hole, so to speak, comparable
to that of our speakeasy days, sufficing for a window. Everyone
you talk to, however, has kept his sense of humor. One marvels
at the fortitude of the people who receive some consolation as they
all tell you, "We had nothing compared to the havoc you will see
in Germany."
18


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