Buckingham Palace is Bombed
On this day in 1940, a Luftwaffe bomber emerged from low cloud, flew straight up the Mall and dropped a stick of bombs on the palace.
The Queen described what happened in a letter to Queen Mary:
“We heard the unmistakable whirr-whirr of a German plane. We said: ‘ah, a German’ and before anything else could be said, there was the noise of an aircraft diving at great speed, and then the scream of a bomb. It all happened so quickly, that we only had time to look foolishly at each other, when the scream hurtled past us, and exploded with a tremendous crash in the quadrangle.
“I saw a great column of smoke and earth thrown up into the air, and then we all ducked like lightning into the corridor. There was another tremendous explosion, and we and our two pages who were outside the door, remained for a moment or two in the corridor away from the staircase, in case of flying glass… then came a cry for ‘bandages’ and the first aid party rose magnificently to the occasion, and treated the three casualties calmly and correctly. How they survived I don’t know.”
One of the men, Alfred Davies, later died of his injuries. The King and Queen decided to keep the details of their narrow escape secret, even from Winston Churchill, fearing that he would order them to move out of London.
In the aftermath of the bombing, the Queen Mother made one of the most iconic and amazing quotes ever uttered by a monarch: “good – at least I can look the East End in the eye”. It is one of those statements that just absolutely ring out at you. After reading a biography on the Queen Mother and the King, I found out that I have a tremendous amount of respect for them both. Not to mention an amazing movie called “The King’s Speech”. Any movie with Colin Firth is a winner to me. Seriously, the man could stand on a blank screen and I would stand and cheer!
Churchill later wrote: “Had the windows been closed instead of open, the whole of the glass would have splintered into the faces of the King and Queen, causing terrible injuries. So little did they make of it that even I … never realized until long afterwards … what had actually happened.”