The undamaged St Paul’s Cathedral surrounded by smoke
If you have read any of my earlier blogs you will know that I was born and brought up in London during the Second World War.
It is a well-documented fact that London was bombed by the Luftwaffe for 76 consecutive nights in 1940/41 and more than one million houses were destroyed or damaged, and more than 20,000 civilians were killed. We had an aunt who went to visit her sister and after the air raid warning sounded decided to spend the night. A very lucky decision because the next day when she and her daughters returned home, they found their house razed to the ground.
So I grew up surrounded by bombed sites where houses used to stand and I thought nothing of it. I really thought everybody lived this way. Well, I was only a few months old when the war started and seven when it ended in May 1945.
All through these bomb sites, a little flower grew. Well, it grew like a weed and while it did have a Latin name – Saxifraga – it was quickly renamed London Pride. It came to represent the pride and the unstoppable nature of Londoners at the time. Noel Coward wrote a song about it. Coward later said that the song came to him when he was sitting on a railway station in London. He looked about him and saw the flowers and the people going about their business as if nothing out of the ordinary was happening and he became “overwhelmed by a wave of sentimental pride”
London Pride has been handed down to us.
London Pride is a flower that’s free.
London Pride means our own dear town to us,
And our pride it for ever will be……..
It is very sentimental and very outdated now. But at the time it was a rallying song for Londoners during the dark days of the Blitz when people were mourning the loss of husbands, sons, family members and their homes.
And now I must admit that I love Noel Coward. I have a couple of biographies and know the words to most of the songs he wrote. Another great favourite is “I’ve been to a marvellous party” but that has to wait for another day.
- Color Photos Taken in London During The World War II (vintage-everyday.blogspot.com)
- World War II London Blitz Diary, Volume 2, 1941 (A Woman’s Revelations Enduring War and Marriage) [Kindle Edition] (swag.com)