On this day in 1940, the German air force unleashed a wave of heavy bombing raids on London, killing hundreds of civilians and injuring many more. The Ministry of Home Security said the scale of the attacks was the largest the Germans had yet attempted.
The first raids came towards the end of the afternoon, and were concentrated on the densely populated East End, along the river by London Docks. About 300 bombers attacked the city for over an hour and a half. The entire docklands area seemed to be ablaze as hundreds of fires lit up the sky. Once darkness fell, the fires could be seen more than 10 miles away, and it is believed that the light guided a second wave of German bombers which began coming over at about 1930 GMT.
The night bombing lasted over eight hours, one bomb exploding on a crowded air raid shelter in the East London district. In what was described as a million to one chance the bomb fell directly on the 3ft by 1ft ventilation shaft - the only vulnerable place in a strongly protected underground shelter which could accommodate over 1,000 people.
In the air, a series of ferocious dogfights developed as the German aircraft flew up the Thames Estuary. The Air Ministry says at least 15 enemy aircraft crashed into the estuary, and in all, the Ministry said, 88 German aircraft were shot down, against 22 RAF planes lost.