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VE Day 75: Impact of enemy bombing on East End revealed in images from Museum of London Docklands

PUBLISHED: 14:30 08 May 2020

The Docklands ablaze during the Blitz on September 7, 1940. The rising palls of smoke mark out the London Docks beyond the Tower of London, the Surrey Docks to the right of the bridge and the West India Docks on the Isle of Dogs in the distance. Picture: PLA Collection/Museum of London

The Docklands ablaze during the Blitz on September 7, 1940. The rising palls of smoke mark out the London Docks beyond the Tower of London, the Surrey Docks to the right of the bridge and the West India Docks on the Isle of Dogs in the distance. Picture: PLA Collection/Museum of London

Museum of London- PLA collection

During the Second World War, the dockyards and riverside factories o the East End played a significant role.

The prime minister Winston Churchill and Mrs Churchill, with the Flag Officer, London, and J Douglas Ritchie (on left), touring London's dock in Sept 1940, seen with a group of auxiliary firemen. Picture: PLA Collection/Museum of LondonThe prime minister Winston Churchill and Mrs Churchill, with the Flag Officer, London, and J Douglas Ritchie (on left), touring London's dock in Sept 1940, seen with a group of auxiliary firemen. Picture: PLA Collection/Museum of London

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.

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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