A new interactive map of London showing where German bombs landed over the course of eight months during World War II gives new meaning to the word Blitz.
The entire greater city from Egham in the west to Dartford in the east, and from Potters Bar in the north to Caterham in the south appears to be obliterated by the red bomb symbols used to illustrate where a dropped bomb landed.
The year-long mapping project, Jisc-funded Bomb Sight, which has just been launched, was devised by geographer Dr Kate Jones, of the University of Portsmouth, and colleagues.
She said: “When you look at these maps and see the proliferation of bombs dropped on the capital it does illustrate the meaning of the word Blitz, which comes from the German meaning lightening war.
“It seems astonishing that London survived the onslaught.
“The Bomb Sight project demonstrates the clustering together of lots of different data using the power of geography.”
Dr Jones chose to focus on the period of the most intensive bombing period in London during WWII, the Blitz. In that period, Germany’s Luftwaffe killed thousands and destroyed more than a million homes. The Blitz ended, and with it the fear of a Nazi invasion, in May, 1941 when it became apparent that Britain’s spirit would not be broken.
The Bomb Sight project uses a slightly longer time-frame for mapping what bombs fell where because it uses maps of the London WWII bomb census, taken between October 1940 and June 1941 and until now only available to view in the Reading Room at The National Archives.
The locations of the bombs have been combined with geo-located photographs from the Imperial War Museum and geo-located memories from the BBC’s WW2 People’s War Archive.
Users can manipulate the map and zoom into specific streets or boroughs as well as find out what type of bomb was dropped where.
Dr Jones won funding from Jisc to establish the project and has made the website and app available for public use to allow everyone, particularly students and teachers in schools and universities and citizen researchers to discover where the bombs fell and to explore memories and photographs from the period.
Paola Marchionni Jisc programme manager said: “Bomb Sight is a fantastic resource and it shows the power of what is possible by mashing up content from that resides in different places. The original Blitz maps have been scanned and geo-referenced thanks to the National Archive and testimonials from the BBC have been incorporated together with historical images from the Imperial War Museum to create an interactive teaching and learning resource that is similar to a map sat nav. There will be an augmented reality and mobile version available in December making the resource even more interactive.”
The website allows people to find out where and what sort of bombs fell in their area, and explore photos and stories from those involved or affected by the war.
The associated Android app also gives users an augmented reality view which allows users to point their phone at a street scene and, using the phone’s camera and GPS, the app will display the bombs that fell nearby.
Visit the website at http://bombsight.org/