Tuesday 23 February 2021 at 19.30 ‘They’re Bombing the Docks!’ by Chris Everett
Talks by the Thames moves ON LINE with a FREE live webinar
Chris Everett returns to Chiswick Pier Trust with the second part of his fascinating – and largely undocumented – history of the Thames during WWI and WWII.
September 7th 2020 was the 80th anniversary of Black Saturday, the first day of the blitz in 1940. The target that day was the London Docks. Significantly it had been a hot summer and the potential for fire spreading was good, especially with a cocktail of high explosive, oil and incendiary devices and the huge amount of timber stored in the Surrey Commercial Docks as well as the many other flammable goods stored in the Thameside warehouses.
The massed aerial attack by over 300 bombers with 600 fighter escorts would inflict havoc along a 40 mile stretch of the Thames’ industrial shoreline and its riverside communities. Over 400 Londoners would die that first night.
Britain had been planning for war in Europe since 1933 and in 1936 Port Executive Committees were established in the major ports to organise defences. By far the largest and nearest Port to Europe and therefore the most vulnerable was London.
London had been bombed by airship and aeroplane in World War 1, the assessment afterwards was that the ‘bomber will always get through’. So how should London and its essential docks prepare? This talk examines how successful those plans were, looks at the experiences of the civilian workforce involved on the river and in the docks within the context of London, still capital of The British Empire, during those six years of a second World War.
As the events of those dark days recede into history today only those aged over 80 can remember the war, and only those over 95 would have played an active role, our responsibility is to keep those memories and history alive for future generations.
About Chris Everett
‘They’re bombing the docks!’ is the follow up talk to Chris’s very popular presentation in the last Talks on the Thames series to the Thames during WWI called ‘No Longer an Island’.
Chris is at least a 6th generation Londoner and a freelance guide of some 20 years’ experience. He is also a lecturer, tutor, researcher and historian specialising in London related topics. Chris has an MA in London Studies from Birkbeck, University of London. He has a particular interest in the Docks, River Thames and the impact of both World Wars on London. Chris has been an active member of the Docklands History Group for over 10 years and a Committee member for the last seven.
This webinar is free, although any donations will be gratefully received to support Chiswick Pier Trust in its work of bringing people to the River. Like most charities, we have been affected by lockdown and would be grateful for any support you can give.