The Blitz – The Hardest Night

10/11 May 1941, 11:02pm – 05:57am

The most devastating raid on London took place on the night of 10/11 May 1941.Burning buildings in Queen Victoria Street, EC4, after the last and heaviest major raid mounted on the night of 10-11 May 1941.

The moon was full and the Thames had a very low ebb tide. These two combined with a maximum effort by the Germans, before the moved east to attack the Soviet Union, to produce one of the most devastating raids on the capital.

It is impossible to provide comprehensive detail of the night’s many actions but a number of highlights might give a little idea:

  • 571 sorties flown by German bombers – some crews flying two and even three missions.
  • 711 tons of high explosive bombs (167 were recorded as unexploded the next day) and 86,173 incendiaries dropped.
  • London Fire Brigade recorded at least 2136 fires, 9 of ‘conflagration’ level, 8 ‘major’ outbreaks (rating over 30 pumps), 43 serious (up to 30 pumps), 280 medium (up to 10 pumps) and at least 1796 small.
  • Approx 1436 people killed and 1800 seriously injured.
  • The fires resulted in 700 acres of destruction – about double that of the Great Fire of London.
  • Final costs of damage in 1941 values – £20,000,000 – about double that of Great Fire.
  • Anti aircraft guns expended 4510 rounds – 2 bombers claimed destroyed.
  • Fighter Command in total dispatched 325 aircraft (not all over London). They claimed 28 enemy aircraft. One Hurricane was destroyed and another Hurricane and a Beaufighter were badly damaged.

Luftwaffe actually lost twelve aircraft that night

  • 10 x He 111
  • 1 x Ju 88
  • 1 x Bf 110*

* 24 long-range fighters were deployed over London but they suffered no losses. This aircraft crashed at Floors Farm, Bonnyton Moor, Glasgow at 2305. It was flown from Augsburg by German Deputy Führer Rudolf Hess on an ill conceived peace mission.