Posted in The London Blitz


The London Blitz described by Edward R. Murrow





August 24, 1940. This is Trafalgar Square. The noise that you hear at the moment is the
sound of the air raid sirens. I’m standing here just on the steps of St Martin-in-the-Fields.
A searchlight just burst into action off in the distance–one single beam sweeping the
sky above me now. People are walking along quite quietly. We’re just at the entrance
of an air raid shelter here and I must move this cable over just a bit so people can walk
in. I can see just straight away in front of me Lord Nelson on top of that big column.
There’s another searchlight just square behind Nelson’s statue. I’ll just let you listen
to the traffic and the sound of the siren for a moment. Just a few people here walking
rather hurriedly toward the air raid shelters–some of them casually–a man stops in front of
me to light a cigarette. Here comes one of those big red buses around the corner–double-deckers
they are, just a few lights on the top deck. In this blackness it looks very much like
a ship that’s passing in the night, and you just see the portholes. There goes another
bus. More searchlights coming to action. You see them reach straight up into the sky, and
occasionally they catch a cloud and seem to splash on the bottom of it. The little traffic
lights here, just a small cross on the normal globe, are now red. The cars pull up and stop.
I’ll just ooze down in the darkness here along these steps and see if I can pick up the sound
of peoples’ feet as they walk along. One of the strangest sounds one can hear in London
these days–or rather these dark nights–just the sound of footsteps walking along the streets,
like ghosts shod with steel shoes. A taxi draws up just in front and stops, just waiting
for that red light to change to green while the siren howls. There it goes, and the cars
move off. More searchlights are in action. We’ve not yet seen any burst of anti-aircraft
fire overhead. An air raid warden walks out of this shelter–the shelter here, you know,
is the crypt underneath this famous old church just on the edge of Trafalgar Square. The
crypt where in days of peace homeless men and women were able to find a night’s lodging.