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Communiqué No. 19a by Paul Rowntree
sent from London during the first WW2 blitz
Mon 30 Dec 1940
Thank you very much indeed for the Xmas goodies.
I’m sorry I haven’t written sooner but the show and things have rather occupied me.
Last night was the City’s hottest ( and I mean hot ) raid.
The all clear went before midnight and left most of the city a blazing mass. We had 25 cases in the post mostly AFS and mostly with brick dust in their eyes.
Ismay persuaded me to come and look at the fires after we’d looked at them from the roof and sacrificing a comfortable bed.
I stayed out till 4.30 am and did not regret it as it was a sight and experience which I will never get again.
Ismay went out again at 4.30 and apparently was allowed to play the hose on the fires in Aldersgate Street.
Newgate St, St Paul’s Churchyard, Cheapside, Gresham St., Guildhall, St Giles Church were ablaze – the church making a wonderful picture.
East of Aldersgate was the most intense and in this area at least 1/3 of the buildings were a blazing inferno.
We were able to wander about completely unimpeded in our tin hats and we saw scenes that would have made marvellous photographs – but there was no sign of cameramen or cine men. I suppose Duggie Ismay and I saw more of the fires than anyone else and if only I could go to America right now I should make a fortune on a lecture tour.
In spite of the papers saying that it was indiscriminate bombing, by a miracle Barts and St Pauls were unaffected – perhaps they are better watched – (they had a bout of incendiaries in Barts). Our post was East of the blazes (deadly secret) the C.T.O. was gutted completely after a fire burning from every window.
Much love Paul.