"...we shall never surrender..."

The Story Of December 29, 1940
by Margaret Gaskin

I love this book and I want everyone to read it although I realize it's not everyone's cup of tea. It is literally one day out of months of nightly bombing raids conducted by the German Luftwaffe which presents a bit of a problem to write as there is no one particular character to follow. As you read, you follow the timeline of the raid itself, which was massive, and individual accounts from many sources.

It took me a bit of time to read, partly because these days I've only been reading at night before bed and it's not too long before I'm asleep. The writing was somewhat difficult for me due to the style of the author. She must have a British style of the wording and the structure and rhythm of the sentences and I would have to re-read to get the gist of it. And the abbreviations...!!! Wartime England... Could not remember those from night to night, but it made no difference to the narrative. It was that interesting. I kept waking my poor sleeping hubby to tell him something I'd just read that was unimagineable. "They dropped over 127 tons of bombs." "There were over 1500 fires in a square mile area and now they've run out of water." When the book moved onto to Churchill's funeral in 1965 I was crying and trying to read the passage to him.(SPOILER ALERT--Winston Churchill is dead.)

So, if I were Queen of the World, I would have certainly EVERY AMERICAN read this book, and I would make Ken Burns', The War, mandatory viewing for high schools. We should know and be grateful for the courage and sacrifices of men and women of many nationalities for the freedoms we enjoy in this country.
When I was in London a million years ago I fell across this ruined church--now a garden. Didn't at the time fully appreciate it's history, although I felt the sacred space contained there and have never forgotten it. Discovered it again as one of Christopher Wren's churches rebuilt after the Great Fire of 1666 and lost in the fire the night of December 29, 1940--St. Dunstan's in the East.

Quintessential words: "Keep buggering on."--Winston Churchill


  1. I am particularly fond of:

    "If you're going through hell, keep going."

    Winston Churchill

    and keep it close at hand as a small reminder.

    I, on the other hand, would make Howard Zinn's "A People's History of the United States" required reading and "Matewan" required viewing.

    With all the reading and viewing we have to do, we hardly have time for the obsolete, non-solution that is war.


  2. I've been meaning to get around to this book. I've spent a lot of time reading American history books but mostly the Civil War era. What WWII books I've read, like Flags of Our Fathers and Flyboys, have been about the South Pacific theater.

    I'd make Undaunted Courage required reading too. It's an amazing book. And I couldn't put The Grey Ghost down-a book about John Mosby in the Civil War. It's nice to see others read books on history too. For sure, I'll get around to this one as well.

  3. I will put this book on my list. Actually, that event in history has always held fascination for me - especially as the word "hero" has been redefined in our society.
    Yes, I agree with you about Ken Burns' The War as required reading in schools. If Only!


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