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Scars Of War

October 2, 2015
by the gentle author

Taking advantage of yesterday’s bright October sunshine, I set out for a walk across London with my camera to see what shrapnel and bomb damage I could find still visible from the last century. Much of the damage upon brick structures appears to have gone along with the walls, since most of what I discovered was upon stone buildings.

Shrapnel damage at the junction of Mansell St & Chambers St from World War II

Shrapnel pock-marks upon Southwark Cathedral from February 1941

Damage at St Bartholomew’s Hospital from zeppelin raids on 8th September 1915 and on 7th July 1917

Damage at St Bartholomew’s Hospital from zeppelin raids on 8th September 1915 and on 7th July 1917

Damage at Stone Buildings, Lincoln’s Inn Fields, from a bomb dropped on Wednesday 18th December 1917 at 8pm

Damage at Stone Buildings, Lincoln’s Inn Fields, from a bomb dropped on Wednesday 18th December 1917 at 8pm

Repair of shrapnel damage from September 194o at University College London, Zoology Museum, Gower St

Damage at St Clement Dane’s in the Strand from 10th May 1941 when the church was gutted

Damage at St Clement Dane’s in the Strand from 10th May 1941 when the church was gutted

Sphinx on the Embankment with damage from the first raid by German aeroplanes Tuesday 4th September 1917

Cleopatra’s Needle with damage from the first raid by German aeroplanes Tuesday 4th September 1917

Damage at Victoria & Albert Museum from two bombs in Exhibition Rd during World War II

Damage at Victoria & Albert Museum from two bombs in Exhibition Rd during World War II

Damage at Tate Britain from September 16th 1940

Please tell me of more locations of visible bomb damage and I will extend this series

You may also like to read about

The Bombing of Columbia Market

Alf Morris, Bethnal Green Tube Disaster Survivor

25 Responses leave one →
  1. October 2, 2015

    I was fascinated by seeing damage from the war the first time I went to Europe. I guess I was amazed that it was still there, and that no one else noticed.

  2. October 2, 2015

    Interesting idea to look for the damage, thanks for the photos. I grew up in East London after the war, where the views were again very different, with bombsites, broken houses and streets filled with rubble, and we used them as our playgrounds. Valerie

  3. October 2, 2015

    Fascinating.

  4. martin permalink
    October 2, 2015

    Incredible to think that direct evidence of Germany’s strategic bombing raids in WWI by Zepplin and (especially) Gotha heavy bombers still exists!

  5. Jim permalink
    October 2, 2015

    Another exceptional post by the gentle author!
    From a regular reader in the break-away colonies near Boston.

  6. SBW permalink
    October 2, 2015

    Dear GA, thank you so much for this thought-provoking post; our dear London, surviving nonetheless. On a trip to Kiev in 1995 I saw much shrapnel damage and bullet marks across a large number of buildings there, which was eerie. My mother could not look at Rosebay Willowherb without thoughts of London bomb sites flooding into her mind, bringing back painful memories. ‘It was the only plant that grew there’ she said. My grandmother refused point blank to dig up her rose garden in order to place her standard-issue bomb shelter there. Instead, she erected the bomb shelter in her best sitting room, uncaring of the fact that if the bombs fell, it, and all in it, would be crushed completely. Better, she said, to see her beloved roses daily, than to allow Herr Hitler to ruin her garden. I will keep my eyes peeled and report back on any sightings. What a beautiful day for a walk by the way. Long may this glorious Autumn continue. thanks :) x

  7. brian r bird permalink
    October 2, 2015

    Interesting exhibition opening soon at the London Metropolitan Archives ‘War in London ‘
    starts 17/11/15 to April. Details on their website.

  8. Sean thomas permalink
    October 2, 2015

    Very interesting. It’s remarkable how much bomb damage can still be seen, in London, if you look.

    A good area is in and around Portland Place, Marylebone. All Soul’s church, for example, is still pitted with shrapnel scars.

  9. Juliet O'Neill permalink
    October 2, 2015

    We still have a war-damaged wardrobe which belonged to my grandparents. As a child I was fascinated by the pock-marks which I was told was caused by shards of glass from shattered windows.

  10. Richard permalink
    October 2, 2015

    Thanks for this interesting post. Must have seen these scars without realising what they are. Gives some idea of what London and other cities went through.

  11. October 2, 2015

    A very salutary lesson in how to see, rather than just look! I’d assumed this sort of damage was just wear and tear: I’ll try to observe more carefully in future.

  12. October 2, 2015

    The damage at the V&A was deliberately left as a war memorial, I believe. There is a plaque up – can’t remember whether it’s inside or outside – explaining this.

  13. October 2, 2015

    This post has been a relvelation. How many of those buildings have I walked past and never noticed the bomb damage. I’m going to keep my eyes open from now on. Will let you know if I find any more.

  14. Sharon Carr permalink
    October 2, 2015

    Again another fascinating and well observed post by the Gentle Author. Who would have known these chips, gouges and pock mocks on the walls of churches, hospitals and other buildings were the marks left from the bombing and shrapnel of the two World wars. I will certainly look on these buildings with a different eye but what does strike me is that these buildings have survived as reminders of more desperate times. These buildings are survivors but for how much longer? Spitalfields and the East End are again under threat because of speculative property developers and corporate interests. Here’s hope that some sense may prevail and if there must be change please let it be sympathetic to the local area and architecture. Thank you Gentle Author.

  15. Judy Pulley permalink
    October 2, 2015

    There is some WW2 shrapnel damage visible on east end of St Paul’s Cathedral

  16. Annie G permalink
    October 2, 2015

    Brilliant! It has never occurred to me to look for this damage but I most certainly shall from now on. And well done London for bearing scars with dignity. I always used to wonder why there were sudden gaps in terraces until my mother took me and my children around the Peckham street of her WW2 childhood. The gaps were once houses that had been completely flattened in Blitz. Amazing that so many houses still stood, repaired and patched up all these years later. When I was 12 she pointed out the air raid siren still standing in the middle of Queen’s Road in Peckham. Gone now.

  17. Tom Murphy permalink
    October 2, 2015

    Inside the Royal Academy: https://www.royalacademy.org.uk/article/consequences-of-war

  18. John Harrison permalink
    October 2, 2015

    Great pictures, thanks for a fascinating idea. More evidence of shrapnel marks in Whitehall walking up from Downing Street, also on the Guards memorial at Horseguards. On the corner of Dock Street and the Highway (near Wilton’s Music Hall) is now Topps Tiles in a recent building. Next door is an early 19th century house with scorch marks all the way down the immediately adjoining wall. Looks like Blitz damage.

  19. October 2, 2015

    Reminds me vividly of trips to wartime London as a child when, even then, I was shocked at the devastation of all the bomb sites, and I also remember the rosebay willowherb which soon grew on all of them. Terrible times which we should never forget so thank you again GA.

  20. Peter Holford permalink
    October 2, 2015

    I’ve never noticed this damage – probably dismissed it as a sign of wear and tear!

  21. crudgie permalink
    October 3, 2015

    i look for these now

  22. October 3, 2015

    I didn’t realise the shrapnel damage on the base of Cleopatra’s Needle was from WW1 …

    There’s shrapnel damage on the stone foundation of the iron fence railings at the British Museum. On the forecourt (not street) side, to the east or right of the main gate as you enter.

  23. martin norris permalink
    October 5, 2015

    Purdey, the gunsmiths in Great Audley Street Mayfair have preserved 1941 Blitz bomb damage to their window and added a small plaque. 5th pic down.

    http://www.buildington.co.uk/buildings/london_w1/57-58_south_audley_street/audley_house/id/4257

  24. Andrew permalink
    February 11, 2017

    Fascinating stuff, I am told that Calvert avenue received a V1 or V2 destroying large part of one of the blocks but this does not appear on any London bomb maps

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