The night of 29 December 1940 saw some 100,000 incendiary bombs dropped on London by the Luftwaffe, causing unprecedented destruction of the city. The extent of the destruction caused by the ensuing firestorm after just three and a half hours of bombing was larger than the area destroyed in the Great Fire of London in 1666, becoming known as ‘The Second Great Fire of London’. Firefighters worked frantically through the night to contain the fires which broke out across the capital and destroyed many important historical buildings. The Germans targeted central London’s vital infrastructure and timed the raid to coincide with a low tide. St Paul’s cathedral came close to suffering the same fate as 19 other churches in the city but thanks to a heroic effort by firefighters and volunteers, after orders directly from Winston Churchill to save the cathedral, the fires were kept at bay.
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