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City of London at War 1939–45 (Paperback)

Local History WWII London Social History Towns & Cities in World War Two Military

By Stephen Wynn
Imprint: Pen & Sword Military
Series: Your Towns & Cities in World War Two
Pages: 184
Illustrations: 50
ISBN: 9781526708304
Published: 31st March 2020

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The City of London was always going to be an obvious target for German bombers during the Second World War. What better way for Nazi Germany to spread fear and panic amongst the British people than by attacking their capital city?Although not vastly populated in the same way that a bigger city or larger town would be, there were still enough people working there during the day for attacks on it to take their toll. The city’s ancient and iconic buildings also bore the brunt of the German bombs, including churches designed by Sir Christopher Wren after the Great Fire in 1666.

The book looks at the effects of war on the City of London, including the damage caused by the 8 months of the Blitz between September 1940 and May 1941. The most devastating of the raids took place on 29 December 1940, with both incendiary and explosive bombs causing a firestorm so intense it was known as the Second Great Fire of London.

It also looks at the bravery of the staff at St Bart's Hospital, which was one of the medical facilities that remained open during the course of the war. Other stories include the sterling work carried out by the City’s civilian population and the different voluntary roles that they performed to help keep the city safe, including the Home Guard and the Fire Watchers, who spent their nights on the city’s rooftops looking out for incendiary devices dropped by the German Luftwaffe.

Despite the damage to its buildings and its population, by the end of the war the City of London was able to rise, like a phoenix, from the flames of destruction, ready to become the vibrant and flourishing borough that it is today.

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Wonderful book. Great to read true stories of WWII well written. Author tells of the life of the people living through the bombing of London.

NetGalley, Victoria Watson

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

I really enjoy the books in this series and this one was a pleasure to read, as I have said in previous reviews for books in the series, the photographs and the captions that illustrate the series are what makes the books in the series so special to read for me.

This book focuses a lot on the buildings and infrastructure and how this was impacted. The City of London is not a large area generally, and it is known as the Square Mile, but the impact of the War was great. The book highlights too those that lost their lives that had links to the area to really bring home how the War affected those in the City boundary.

I love the insight that is given to the social history of the time too that enables the reader to step back in time and experience what it would have been like during this period - the book was well researched and well written and I found it to be an easy read – the author clearly knows his topic and that shines through as you read it.

NetGalley, Donna Maguire

London was certainly going to be a target for the German Luftwaffe. The book documents the results of the German air raids. Lists of casualties are given for some of the more devastating attacks. There is particular focus to the eight months of Blitz between September 1940 and May 1941. Stories of individuals who survived the bombings are told.

I enjoyed the 2.5+ hours I spent reading this 224-page history. I did enjoy reading about the trials and tribulations of Londoners.

NetGalley, John Purvis

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

An interesting read, well researched and well written.
I liked how the book is organised and the style of writing. It's an excellent history book and I highly recommend it.

NetGalley, Anna Maria Giacomasso

This is a comprehensive look at the people and buildings in just the "City of London" during the war years... There are lots of lists and a comprehensive detailing of what certain people were doing or where they died.

NetGalley, Maureen Carney

About Stephen Wynn

Stephen is a retired police officer having served with Essex Police as a constable for thirty years between 1983 and 2013. He is married to Tanya and has two sons, Luke and Ross, and a daughter, Aimee. His sons served five tours of Afghanistan between 2008 and 2013 and both were injured. This led to the publication of his first book, Two Sons in a Warzone – Afghanistan: The True Story of a Father’s Conflict, published in October 2010. Both Stephen’s grandfathers served in and survived the First World War, one with the Royal Irish Rifles, the other in the Mercantile Marine, whilst his father was a member of the Royal Army Ordnance Corps during the Second World War.


When not writing Stephen can be found walking his three German Shepherd dogs with his wife Tanya, at some unearthly time of the morning, when most normal people are still fast asleep.

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