"Even if I could, I would not wish to expunge this time from my life. I am happy to know that I have done my duty toward my people, my duty as a German, as National Socialist, as loyal follower of my Fuehrer. I regret nothing." - Rudolf Hess during the Nuremberg Trials
Stars glittered over the restlessly undulating waters of the North Sea late on the evening of May 10, 1941, as a lone twin-propeller Messerschmitt Bf 110 heavy fighter bearing the Iron Cross emblem of the Nazi Luftwaffe came in sight of the low, dark line of land along the horizon that marked where Scotland lay. Far to the south, waves of similar aircraft and Junkers JU 88 "fast bombers" were roaring through the fire-streaked skies over London, pounding the luckless metropolis with a heavy attack that killed over 3,000 British civilians in about an hour and setting the Houses of Parliament on fire. Given a clear view of their targets by the bright moonlight shining over the "Sceptered Isle," the German pilots created immense havoc in which at least one observer found a certain hellish beauty: The Anglo-Irish poet Louis MacNeice had arranged to spend the night in the dome of St. Paul's Cathedral. He wrote that soon after the raiders appeared, "great tawny clouds of smoke, rolling in sumptuous Baroque exuberance, had hidden the river completely and there we were on the dome, a Classical island in a more than Romantic Inferno. It was far and away the most astonishing spectacle I have ever seen." (Manchester, 2012, 350).
©2012 Charles River Editors (P)2015 Charles River Editors