Bombings Bring Nightly Exodus from London East End; Damage is Heavy
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Bombings Bring Nightly Exodus from London East End; Damage is Heavy

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Each evening, before dusk, London witnesses a new exodus of residents of the East End, laden with bedding, food and clothing, moving westwards to spend the night in less crowded and deep shelters in other parts of the city.

Entire families make the trek and form queues near the shelters, waiting for them to open, and stay there all night, even after “all clear” signals have been sounded. In the morning they return to their homes or jobs.

The vulnerability of the East End, its nearness to docks and the insecurity of the vast majority of small, flimsy, working class houses is the main reason for this daily migration. Hundreds of residents of the Jewish district, particularly in the dress industry, have lost their jobs as a result of damage done to shops and retail enterprises.

The last few days and nights have brought a comparative breathing spell to the East End, which previously suffered the full force of the Nazis’ intensified “Blitzkrieg.” Since last Saturday there has been an opportunity to survey the situation in that area and obtain an idea of the damage.

Two Jewish cemeteries were badly bombed and hundreds of small Jewish shops, factories and homes were destroyed. Casualties were heavy, totalling several hundred, but not as great as had been feared. The morale of the people has not been broken and there has not been a single sign of panic.

London’s new and exceptionally powerful anti-aircraft barrage, which came as a welcome surprise on Wednesday night, had a tremendously heartening effect, giving the people a greatly increased sense of security.

Wherever possible, the people are repairing damage and trying to carry on as in normal times. Considerable dislocation has inevitably occurred, however. Most of the capital’s Jewish newspapers did not appear last week, owing to damage to plants or temporary closing down of these establishments as a result of the raids.

Hundreds of Jews are actively engaged in the civilian defense services, such as the Air Raid Precautions, the Auxiliary Fire Service and the first aid services. They have distinguished themselves during the past week by their heroic action in rescuing persons trapped by bomb wreckage and aiding in fighting major conflagrations started by incendiary bombs. Several have been severely injured. Robert Hart, a voluntary A.R.P. warden was killed by a bomb blast while on duty shepherding a number of persons into a shelter.

More than 3,500 mothers and children of the bombed East End areas, who registered under the London County Council’s evacuation scheme since Monday, already have left London for other areas. The Council is dealing with at least 1,000 applications daily.

Pettycoat lane, the East End’s world-famed Sunday morning market, is an indirect casualty of the Blitzkrieg. Today, for the first time in many years, there were only a handful of customers and a couple of stalls open. The only activity was in front of the street’s A.R.P. post where collections for relief of the homeless were being taken.

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