Dec. 18 - The designers of an interactive map which allows users to see where every bomb dropped on London during the Blitz in World War Two have been overwhelmed by its popularity. Andrew Potter reports.
For 57 consecutive nights in World War 2, London was hammered by the air force of Nazi leader Adolf Hitler. 40,000 people were killed, and more than a million homes were destroyed, during what became known as The Blitz. London has long since rebuilt, but there's an enduring fascination in knowing where those bombs landed, and now there's website to show you. Bomb Sight allows users to discover exactly where each of the 31,000 bombs dropped on London fell. Dr Catherine Jones is its project leader. (SOUNDBITE) Dr Catherine Jones, Bomb Sight Website project director, saying: "We've been surprised, overwhelmed, excited. It's incredible that a project of this size and nature has gone viral around the world." Since launching in late November, millions have visited Bomb Sight. Researchers from the University of Portsmouth, with funding from UK education charity JISC, took more than a year to sift through bomb census data from the war at the UK National Archives. (SOUNDBITE) Dr Catherine Jones, Bomb Sight Website project director, saying: "We had to go through a process of taking the paper map and taking a digital scan of the map. And then when you have a digital scan you have to match the map to an online map, so you have to give it present-day geographical coordinates." Londoners can investigate their own street's history. (SOUNDBITE) Dr Catherine Jones, Bomb Sight Website project director, saying: "Well here you see a typical London street, rows of terraced housing, probably dating from the 1800s. And if you just look over here to our left we have a very different type of housing that's more representative of the 1960s, so represents post-war building. And we know, using our map and our mobile app that a bomb landed in this location." This 97-year-old was badly injured by a bomb in 1940 at the height of The Blitz. She didn't imagine so many people would be interested in revisiting that tragic time. (SOUNDBITE) Doris Leci, 97-year-old blitz survivor, saying: "Well that surprises me really because there's so much going on in the world that's not very good, there's bombs dropping all over the world aren't there? Why bring up what happened in the past? That's my opinion anyway." Bomb Sight team hope to make their mobile app publicly available within weeks, giving fresh insight to one of London's darkest times.