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September 13, 1940, was a perfect day for bombing London.
And for launching a future monarch into the spotlight.
Eighty-two years this week. The attacks begin at breakfast. Cloud banks hang low over the city, concealing German aircraft seeking fresh targets. British Spitfire and Hurricanes scramble to intercept the intruders, but Luftwaffe pilots drop their payloads with precision, finally able to see targets clearly after a week of nighttime attacks. Londoners race into the safety of Tube stations, packing subway platforms as bombs rain down. Double-decker red buses pull to curbs. Explosions. Fires. Air raid sirens and anti-aircraft chatter. A final “all clear” does not sound until 4:13 p.m.
But casualties are few. As the bombings end, Londoners lucky enough to own a car pull up to bus stops and call out their destinations, offering stranded strangers a ride home. Compared to the horrific poundings London has taken since “the Blitz” began on September 7, the city is relatively unscathed.
And yet five German bombs that fall just before lunch will make this day quite unforgettable.
May 9, 2012: