This Happened—December 29: London Burning
Caused by Nazi bombing raids which set off a series of fires, the Second Great Fire threatened to destroy London. It was ultimately contained, symbolized by the saving of the famed St. Paul's Cathedral.
Sign up to receive This Happened straight to your inbox each day!
How did the Second Great Fire of London start?
On the evening of December 29, 1940, during World War II, a German bomb raid triggered fires that spread across the city of London. High-explosive and incendiary bombs started massive fires throughout the city.
How many people died in the Second Great Fire of London?
The attack caused 160 civilian deaths, as well as the deaths of 14 firemen. It’s also estimated that about five million books were lost in the fires, which badly affected Ave Maria Lane and Paternoster Row, an area known as the center of the London publishing and book trade.
How did St. Paul Cathedral survive London blitz.
During World War II, St. Paul’s Cathedral became an inspiration to the British nation. Germany's Luftwaffe air force attempted to bomb Britain into submission, but St. Paul’s miraculously escaped major damage, even as historic buildings in the same area were destroyed. Images of St. Paul’s framed by smoke and fire became a symbol of Britain’s indomitable spirit. Civilian defense brigades, including the St. Paul’s Fire Watch, protected the church.