Flames Leap High
Thousands in Britain's Capital Toil Against Incendiary Attack
R.A.F. Fighters Go Up
Battle Reich Bombers in Lighted Night Sky- Toll in City Is Heavy
By RAYMOND DANIELL
Special to The New York Times
Roosevelt Calls for Greater Aid to Britain as Best Way to Halt Dictators and Avert War: 'Axis Will Not Win': President Bars Peace Move While Nazis Seek to 'Conquer World': 'Arsenal' Our Role: Asking Mighty Effort, He Rules Out Strikes and Lookouts
Battle in Atlantic: British Cruiser Drives Heavily Armed Ship Away From Convoy: Nazi's Tender Sunk: Poor Visibility Ends the Encounter as Raider Flees in Surprise
British Wish Help of U.S. on Eire Bases: Deny Report Ulster Is Offered in Trade for Them -- Fear Ireland Tempts Invasion
Capital Prepares for Early Action: Roosevelt Calls for British Aid Finds Little Opposition Even Among the Isolationists
800 Flights Here Canceled by Fog: Airlines Put Their Losses at $1,000,000 -- Tug in Crash in East River Mist
Nazi Troops Reach Bulgarian Border: Part of Huge Force at Danube -- Hitler Is Believed Forcing Showdown on Balkans
Nazis Seen Extending Warfare to the Pacific; 15 Ships Have Vanished in Asiatic Waters
This capital had a blistering, somewhat mysterious and quite destructive visit from Adolf Hitler's arsonists of the air, who for some reason or other were not followed in proportionate force by the dynamiters who usually fly in their wake.
But for a few hours the incendiaries popped like starbursts from skyrockets and rained on the streets and rooftops with a clatter like machine-gun fire in some districts of London.
Where the fire-bombs hit there was a burst of pure white flame like a magnesium flare, followed where buildings were set afire by a bright red glow that colored the sky as it has not been colored since those days in early September when the "Blitz" attacks began.
[The Nazi incendiary attackers were met in air battles over London by fighter squadrons of the British Royal Air Force, other dispatches state. Heavy anti-aircraft gun fire held off while the defender planes were up; and rescue workers heard machine-gunning from the lighted sky.
[Casualties in London were believed heavy, The Associated Press and The United Press reported.]
Many Parts of City Struck
Although the London Streets generally are almost deserted by pedestrians and motor traffic at night, clanging fire engines this time sped through the narrow streets like racing cars. Geysers from hundreds of hose lines roared and fizzled.
As the flames died down, the gaunt skeletons of buildings outlined themselves against an afterglow.
Not just one section of the capital was singled out for attack. It was scattered all round so that persons watching from rooftops in various parts of London had the impression they were encircled by blazing buildings from soon after the start of the attack in the early evening.
Early evening strollers in some parts of London had a feeling of being hemmed in by a forest fire, but even small blazes blend in the blackout sky and give the effect of a conflagration threatening to consume the city.
Another of Sir Christopher Wren's old churches was a victim of the attack. An incendiary bomb hit the roof of the church.
Janitors and messenger boys rushed in from the streets to try to save as many treasures as possible. They succeeded in carrying out the lectern and some ancient pews, but the building was almost completely destroyed.
"All Clear" Before Midnight
Such raids as that which the Germans carried out this past night emphasize the debt the people of London owe their firefighters. Air Raid Precautions workers and ambulance drivers, for despite one of the heaviest barrages sent up by the ground batteries in many weeks, large numbers of enemy planes got through the defenses and dropped their fire bombs and some high explosives.
Yet there was no disorder and many of the fires that looked so menacing in the middle of the evening were under control before the "all clear" sounded before midnight.
The people of London seem to be developing a sixth sense about air raids. Last night, for instance, when the alarm sounded and before the attack developed into the crescendo it finally reached, subway stations and underground shelters were filled with crowds greater than they had accommodated in many weeks.
Large numbers of people who had no shelter or bunk tickets stood in rows in the vacant spaces used by passengers buying tickets and only narrow passageways were left on stairs leading to the station platforms.
More damage was caused by the fire than by bombs. It is a pity that details cannot be given, but London is a big city and air raiders cover much ground in a short space of time. Besides, the censorship forbids even so much as a hint of what buildings were hit or even what sections of the capital suffered most heavily.
About all that can be said on that score is that in addition to the Wren church two hospitals were hit again. No casualty figures are available but it is inconceivable that so much damage could be done to steel and mortar without harm to flesh and blood.
All Firemen in City Area Called
London, Monday, Dec. 30 (AP)--London in the battle of its life early today fought hundreds of towering flames set by waves of German bombers bent on reducing this empire capital to a flaming skeleton.
Every fireman--thousands upon thousands--in the vast London area was called out, and more thousands of volunteers joined in the battle in the debris-littered streets.
Low water pressure hampered the efforts, but a rainstorm sweeping in from the German-held Continent aided the fire fighters and rescue workers.
The casualties were believed extraordinarily heavy in the long pre-midnight raid that turned the horizon scarlet at dawn.
At the height of the raid launched by hundreds of German bombers, ground workers toiling desperately to control the flames saw squadron after squadron of Spitfire and Hurricane fighter planes of the Royal Air Force dive into the midst of the Nazis under of roof of brightly illuminated clouds.
Nazis Try to Dodge in Clouds
The German raiders sought refuge in those clouds.
The firemen fighting in rubble-strewn streets amid tangles of hoses heard the machine-gunning.
Many of the raiders dropped "Molotoff breadbaskets," containers that spew out fifty or 100 incendiary bombs as they fall.
The fires could be seen for miles--great pillars of flames that swept the clouds and illuminated the sky clashes between the attacking and defending planes.
Many witnessed this gripping battle despite the pounding of explosive bombs dropped toward the beacon fires.
Cable communications from London to New York were disrupted and wireless contact, too, for a time.
After a lapse of several hours The Associated Press correspondent succeeded in getting New York by telephone.
The intensity of the fires lighted the way for the raiders more than ever before.
Many Roof-Spotters Feared Killed
Hundreds of rooftop "spotters" stuck to their posts, and it is believed that many of these figured in the mounting casualty list.
Reports indicated that at least two waves of raiders dropped nothing but incendiary bombs.
Several "baskets" of fire bombs were loosed in one area.
Roof-spotters played heroic roles in putting out the many blazes and directing firemen to buildings where firebomb on the roof were hidden from the street.
[The United Press reported that bombs fell close to its office in London, on Bouverie Street, between Fleet Street and the Thames in the heart of the city.
[Headquarters of The Associated Press in New York and messages from London indicated that the building housing its bureau, at 20 Tudor Street in Central London, was hit in the bombardment, but that there were no casualties. Extent of damage was not given. This would be the third time that The Associated Press building had been damaged by bombs, although not greatly, it said.]
The first attacking German planes came over the southeast coast as darkness closed in on the cold, foggy Dover Strait and the English Channel, where throughout the day the Royal Air Force had patroled the skies, watchful alike for invading aircraft and any unusual signs of activity on the shores of France.
Within a short time after the Nazi planes began roaring past the capital's anti-aircraft guns, high explosives were dropping on the city, some in the central part.
The R. A. F. patrol had kept Nazi activity at a low mark during the day. Bombs dropped in a Suffolk coast town and in towns on the Kentish coast. Some houses were damaged, but no casualties were reported.
A small number of persons were killed, however, and some injured by a raider in Northwest England.
One German bomber was believed to have been shot down off the southeast coast by planes of the R. A. F. day patrol.
Back to the top of this page.
Back to today's page.
Go to another day.