It felt like we had been awake for nearly two days by the time our group gathered in the main lobby of our hotel in London to leave for our Blitz tour. The tour was to start at St. Paul’s Cathedral and cover locations around the city that had been impacted by the Blitz bombings during World War II.
Our tour guide, Andy, was an elderly gentleman with a witty sense of humor. He connected with our group from the very start of our tour and quickly our tired group began to laugh and the excitement of being in London grew.
Andy led us to the side of St. Paul’ Cathedral to begin our tour. Here he began to describe the damage the church endured during the bombings. He described how shrapnel from bombs had damaged windows and the sides of the church. The side of the cathedral by which we were standing displayed large cracks that he stated were from the Blitz bombings.
He told us about one bomb in particular that had landed just outside of St. Paul. This bomb never detonated and a “suicide squad” was assigned to dig it out of the ground and drive it out of the city in order to protect the church. This group survived the transportation of the bomb and was later honored for their bravery.
After walking our group around the cathedral and describing the damage, Andy led us to what became my favorite part of this tour. Just a quick stroll from St. Paul’s Cathedral sits another church that is known as the Franciscan Priority of Christ Church Greyfriars. Unlike St. Paul’s Cathedral, the only thing left of this church are the outside walls and bell tower. Instead of rebuilding the rest of the church after the war ended, it has since been altered into a park with beautiful plants and benches. Additionally, the large bell tower has been converted into an apartment space that is for rent.
In the middle of Franciscan Priority of Christ Church Greyfriars are six tall plants, three on each side. As we walked through the garden space, Andy explained that these are where the columns of the church once stood. This allowed me to better picture what the church once looked like before the Blitz bombings and appreciate the alteration of this space even more.
Seeing the damage still present in London from the Blitz bombings allowed me to better understand the intensity of this part of World War II and how England has since recovered.