The Blitz: World War II: Britain: Air Raids: Fire of London. A symbol of survival.
St Paul’s Cathedral rises above the smoke and flames of one of the worst nights of bombing experienced in Britain.
On 29th December 1940 when the Thames was a low water mark and after the early bombing run had severed the water mains, the Luftwaffe’s aircraft dropped more than 10,000 incendiary bombs on the City. By some miracle the landmark church and its dome remained untouched as thousands of fire fighters and troops fought to prevent the ancient heart of London being destroyed by an inferno.
The picture was taken by Daily Mail photographer Herbert Mason – it became one of the most famous images of the war. When German bombers were making one of their heaviest raids, Mason climbed to the roof of the newspaper’s headquarters Northcliffe House. With incendiaries falling round him, he watched building after building around St Paul’s ablaze. Then he caught a glimpse of the Cathedral in a momentary gap in the smoke and recorded his historic picture.