“People shelter and sleep on the platform and on the train tracks, in Aldwych Underground Station, London, after sirens sounded to warn of German bombing raids, on October 8, 1940.”
October 8th would have been at the height of the Blitz, which is considered to have started just over a month prior, so this is day 31 of nightly raids on London. A total of 71 raids on the city would happen over the 8 month period considered to be “The Blitz”, with about 20,000 killed in the city – about half of the total 40,000 civilians killed in the UK during the period.
Although Germany had shown no inherent compulsion against bombing civilian population centers, not only in their bombing of Warsaw the year prior, and Rotterdam earlier in the year, but also with the Condor Legion in Spain in the 1930s, it is thought that the beginning of the bombing of London started by accident when a flight of He 111s dropped their load over the city by accident on August 24th, having limited visibility in the night and screwed up navigation. The RAF returned the favor over Berlin the next night, leading Hitler and Goering to retaliate against London. Although the bombings of London began that August, it wasn’t until September 7th, when the first of 57 consecutive night raids on London commenced, that “the Blitz” is considered to have started.
The beginning of the Blitz coincided with the Battle of Britain, and the shift by the Luftwaffe from the bombing of military installations to population centers is considered by some to be an important factor in the RAF’s triumph over the Germans in the fall of ’40.
Just for those who thought this picture seemed a little off and possibly some of Barnum’s, shall we say, “showmanship”, Tom Thumb is indeed a child in this photo… a 10 year-old child. He stopped growing at about 6 months old and didn’t start growing again until he was in his late teens when he “shot up” (by which I mean never stopped growing for the next 25 years) from about 2’5″ to 3’3″