Historian reveals the story behind one of the world's most iconic images of war

Historians in the News
tags: WW II, St Pauls Cathedral



The image of St Paul’s Cathedral wreathed in smoke during an air-raid on London, one of the defining images of Britain during WWII, was once described as “war’s greatest picture”.

It was taken by photographer Herbert Mason on December 29, 1940 as German bombs rained down on London.

Now, new research by a Swansea University historian reveals the remarkable and complex history of the picture and the many uses to which it has been put.

Remarkably, even as it was being used as a symbol of defiance in Britain, German newspapers and magazines were using it to illustrate the devastation caused by the Luftwaffe.

Dr Tom Allbeson, a cultural historian at Swansea University argues the history of the picture illustrates the crucial role of images in forming cultural memory and calls on fellow historians to pay more attention to this process and to move photography from the margins of historical research to the centre. ...




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