‘It is important those who lost their lives are not forgotten’: Newham marks 80th anniversary of the Blitz

The Blitz began on this day 80 years ago. Picture: Andrew Baker

The Blitz began on this day 80 years ago. Picture: Andrew Baker - Credit: Andrew Baker

The borough has marked the 80th anniversary of the start of the Blitz with a wreath laying ceremony to remember those who died.

The Blitz began on this day 80 years ago. Picture: Andrew Baker

The Blitz began on this day 80 years ago. Picture: Andrew Baker - Credit: Andrew Baker

Mayor Rokhsana Fiaz along with deputy mayors Charlene McLean and John Gray were at the mass grave and memorial in Manor Park Cemetery in Sebert Road, Forest Gate, today (September 7) paying tribute to the civilian casualties.

Cllr McLean, Newham’s cabinet chief for community neighbourhoods, said: “There are residents who remember the Blitz through direct experience or have learned about it through family stories, school lessons, movies or remembrance commemorations.

“It is important that those who lost their lives are not forgotten. It is also important that we remember the difficulties that those who were left behind had to face.”

The Blitz started on this day in 1940 and ended May 11 the following year when Nazi Germany’s fascist leader, Adolf Hitler, called off the air raids, moving his bombers east ahead of the country’s invasion of the USSR.

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However, enemy bombardment from the air continued throughout the Second World War. Total deaths during the Blitz though amounted to more than 43,000, according to the University of Exeter’s centre for the study of war, state and society.

The term Blitz was first used by the British press and is the German word for lightning.

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For eight months, London was attacked with high explosive bombs and parachute mines, which had a devastating effect on the then boroughs of East Ham and West Ham.

The Royal Docks was one of the main targets with the Nazis intent on damaging the commercial life of the capital by bombing warehouses, wharves, railway lines, factories and power stations of the East End.

The town hall is hosting online exhibition Black Saturday: Stories from the Blitz to commemorate the 80th anniversary.

It features photographs and stories from people who remember the first days of Nazi Germany’s bombing campaign.

Cllr McLean said: “The online exhibition tells the story of those early days in one of the darkest periods in our local history.

“The German Luftwaffe tried to break the spirit of this part of the East End, but they failed. The first-hand accounts of residents are as awe-inspiring as they are tragic.”

Visit the online exhibition and read the stories from the early days of the Blitz at newham.gov.uk/downloads/file/2075/black-saturday-exhibition

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