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Cabinet ministers to open memorial to London Blitz victims

PUBLISHED: 17:25 15 July 2008 | UPDATED: 13:26 05 October 2010

London Docks ablaze when the Blitz began in September, 1940

London Docks ablaze when the Blitz began in September, 1940

CABINET Ministers Hazel Blears and Ruth Kelly join campaigners to open a memorial park to civilians killed in the London Blitz. The centre piece is a dove memorial at the new Hermitage Riverside Memorial Garden that they open tomorrow (June 16) at Wapping, near Tower Bridge. The dove has been created by sculptor Wendy Taylor for the garden on the Thames waterfront as a tribute to East Enders killed during the Second World War

CABINET Ministers Hazel Blears and Ruth Kelly join campaigners to open a memorial park to civilians killed in the London Blitz.

The centre piece is a dove memorial at the new Hermitage Riverside Memorial Garden that they open tomorrow (June 16) at Wapping, near Tower Bridge.

The dove has been created by sculptor Wendy Taylor for the garden on the Thames waterfront as a tribute to East Enders killed during the Second World War.

The garden is the result of a six-year campaign for a civilians' memorial on the site of Hermitage Wharf which was destroyed in a German air raid on December 29, 1940, when Hitler's Blitz against London was at its height.

The garden and sculpture commissioned by the Hermitage Environment group was paid for by public donations and cash from charitable trusts, foundations and the developers of the new Hermitage Wharf.

It is a gripping memorial to the time Britain stood alone, when London was being bombed continuously for 57 consecutive days by the Luftwaffe attempting to demoralise the population and knock Britain out of the war.

The Port of London was a strategic target. The docks were easy to locate, following the distinctive, winding course of the Thames.

The Blitz was already running for three months when Hermitage Wharf was hit.

The first 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 Britain.

Some 348 German bombers escorted by 617 fighters dropped high explosives on London at around 4pm on that September day, aimed mainly on the docks along the Thames, until 6pm. A second air raid that night lasted until 4.30 the following morning.

The Luftwaffe had previously targeted RAF airfields and radar stations along the south coast the previous summer, in vain preparations for a German invasion.

But the change of tactics when Hitler turned his bombers on London effectively cancelled the planned invasion.

London was bombed either during the day or night for the next consecutive 57 days, before the Blitz finally ended on May 11, 1941, when Germany's attention turned east for the invasion of Russia.

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