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‘A carnival of hate’: Echo saw it happen
12:55pm Monday 20th September 2010 in The Blitz remembered
Throughout the Second World War, the Daily Echo remained at the heart of a bomb-blasted Southampton, with its close-knit communities and people who really did keep calm and carry on.
One of the most descriptive articles to appear in the newspaper was written soon after the devastating period of the blitz towards the end of 1940.
“Nazi raiders in their hundreds had made the previous two nights horrible, taking a terrible toll in human life’’ recorded the Daily Echo at the time.
“They had maimed many, wrecked and burned homes, churches, shops and stores, the people’s places of entertainment, hotels, a convent, and many military objectives.
“Simultaneously with the sirens at dusk on the evening of Saturday, November 30, the first of the raiders showered down their flares until the town was almost as bright as if it were daylight. Incendiaries soon began to fall in hundreds, and with them death-dealing bombs.
“No one who was there will ever forget the terrifying noises of that night, the dismal, almost ceaseless, drone of the raiders as they came and went; the screech of the bombs as they fell, and the reverberating roar as they burst, the deep woof of the biggest anti-aircraft guns and the sharper crack of the lighter ones; the swish of the showering fire bombs; the crackling of the fire that flared up all over the town; the urgent clang of the fire crew bells.
“And so it went on for hours while firemen, ARP workers, police, hospital staff and hundreds of unattached volunteers strove bravely and selflessly to cope with one of the worst raids the country has ever known. When dawn ended the night of horror, Sotonians saw a heartbreaking sight. Much of the town they loved had been devastated and much of the business heart of the Southampton was in ruins.
“And that same night the terrible ordeal had to be lived through again. Once more the Luftwaffe staged an orgy of destruction, senseless, heartless and a brutal carnival of hate.
“Over 300 civilians were killed or injured on those two nights. Fifteen churches were destroyed, including some of the most historic in the town. The town’s biggest voluntary hospital, the Royal South Hants and Southampton, was damaged, and 80 patients had to be evacuated at the height of the raid.
“It would be a distortion of the truth not to admit that these two raids left Sotonians shaken physically and mentally. But, it must be recorded too, that the Luftwaffe’s viciousness had not broken the spirit of the people. Out of the disaster was born a wonderful camaraderie.”