VE Day 75: Impact of enemy bombing on East End revealed in images from Museum of London Docklands
PUBLISHED: 14:30 08 May 2020
Museum of London- PLA collection
During the Second World War, the dockyards and riverside factories o the East End played a significant role.
To mark the 75th anniversary of Victory in Europe (VE) Day, the Museum of London Docklands has released a series of images from its online collection showing the destruction and devastation wrought by the bombing.
The East End’s industrial capabilities meant it also bore the brunt of enemy attack.
London’s docks were the main target, with more than 25,000 German bombs falling on the Docklands over the course of the war.
This part of the city was key in supplying vital goods and services to the rest of the country.
VE Day 2020 docklands WWII
Tanks arriving in the London Docks prior to embarkation for the D Day beaches, 1944. Picture: PLA Collection/Museum of London
The crucial role of the dockers to the war effort brought some improvement in their working conditions, including the introduction of mobile canteens. Here the staff of the PLA's Mobile Canteen No 32 dispense tea to queuing dockers. Port of London Authority 1942. Picture: PLA Collection/Museum of London
Air Raid damage to Royal Albert Dock 29-33 sheds. Date: 07/09/1940. Picture: PLA Collection/Museum of London
Air Raid damage to Royal Albert Dock no.33 shed, South West corner, bomb damage on quay. Date: 07/09/1940. Picture: PLA Collection/Museum of London
Air Raid damage to Royal Albert Dock, Empire Mills, G Rank Ltd, burnt out store building. Date: 07/09/1940. Picture: PLA Collection/Museum of London
West India Dock. A concrete air raid shelter showing precast units being placed in position by crane. South of East Wood Wharf office. Date 21/07/1939. Picture: PLA Collection/Museum of London
Damage caused by a V1 rocket which hit Royal Victoria Dock in 1944. Picture: PLA Collection/Museum of London
River Emergency Services' volunteers carrying bandages, and blankets and taking a break from their civil defense duties to pose for this photograph. Picture: PLA Collection/Museum of London
General Montgomery speaking to 16,000 port workers before the invasion of France in June 1944. His speech was relayed by microphone to every dock and major wharf in London. He was telling them of their vital role in the build up to D-Day. Picture: PLA Collection/Museum of London
Bomb damage to London Dock. Milk Yard Boundary Wall. South side of Shadwell Old Basin, looking east. Date of air raid 8-9/12/1940. Picture: PLA Collection/Museum of London
Royal Docks air raid precautions. A completed concrete shelter covered with earth. The entrance shown on the right. An emeregency exit was allowed for the left hand end. Pictured on 11/07/1939. Picture: PLA Collection/Museum of London
Bomb damage to the Albion Public House (built in 1878). On the corner of Burr Street and St Katharine Way. Date of air raid 10-11/05/1941. Picture: PLA Collection/Museum of London
Bomb damage to London Dock. Shed, formerly Guiness's, on west side of eastern dock, looking north from the southend. Date of air raid 8/12/1940. Picture: PLA Collection/Museum of London
Bomb damage to London Dock. The West End of Denmark Shed showing a bulged quay wall of South Side of Western Dock.19/12/1940. Picture: PLA Collection/Museum of London
St. Katharine Dock air raid damage. F warehouse including S end of 'E'. From Marble Quay looking south east, September 7, 1940. Tthe first attack on Docklands. The photographs were taken later as a technical record by John H. Avery & Co. Picture: PLA Collection/Museum of London
Churchill with some of the thousands of workers building sections of the prefabricated ports at East India Dock, 1944. Two prefabricated ports, each as big as Gibralter, were manufactured in Britain in sections, towed across the channel, and set down off the coast of Normandy. The use of the prefabricated Port greatly simplified the problem of supplying the Allied Armies in France. Picture: PLA Collection/Museum of London
During a dock strike, millitary labour was called in to unload essential supplies. A grassroots strike in October 1945 was not backed by union officials but port workers who had supported the war effort were determined to improve their working lives. Picture: PLA Collection/Museum of London
By destroying the docks, it was believed that you could severely hamper not just the local but the national economy and weaken British war production.
The East End was also densely populated with many factory workers, dockers and their families living in there for work.
With sustained attacks on this local population, the Germans aimed to dampen the spirits and morale of civilians, in turn reducing support for the war.
By the end of the Second World War, the damage to the East End left much of the area in ruins.
Tens of thousands of homes were uninhabitable, businesses were destroyed, and a third of the Port of London’s docks were decimated with West India Docks and St Katherine Docks suffering most of the damage.
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