July 11, 2005 in Nation/World

London shows true ‘blitz spirit’

Matthew Schofield Knight Ridder
 

LONDON – On the fourth day after the London terrorist attacks killed at least 49 people, Londoners watched cricket at Lord’s, listened to debates in Hyde Park and jostled to get a view of the Queen.

In short, many displayed the “blitz spirit” – a reference to how London soldiered on through the Nazi bombings of World War II – that is becoming synonymous with the British reaction to Thursday’s four mass transit bombs.

Deputy Assistant Commission Brian Paddick of the London Metropolitan Police said that police also were continuing the work of identifying the dead.

At this point, none of the dead have been positively identified, which requires DNA matches. He said, however, that police have tentatively identified 59 people who were either killed, critically wounded or missing and known to have been in the area of the bombings, and have sent teams out to help the affected families.

“London is open for business Monday,” announced Deputy Chief Constable Andy Trotter of the British Transport Police Sunday afternoon. “We’re encouraging everyone to get back to work. If not, we let the terrorists win.”

Queen Elizabeth, speaking to a crowd of thousands gathered Sunday near Buckingham Palace for a symbolic 60th anniversary of the end of World War II, said the blitz reference was appropriate in these days.

“During the present, difficult days for London, people turn to the example set by that generation – of resilience, humor, sustained courage – often under conditions of great deprivation,” she said.

Still, Trotter noted that cracks in British stoicism have started to appear. Since the bombings, there have been reports of “a number of hate crimes” including one resulting in a serious injury. Police declined to say more about the crimes. Police have also responded to more than 100 false bomb scares. Among those was one that Sunday briefly evacuated Heathrow Airport and one that Saturday night resulted in 20,000 people being evacuated from the Birmingham city center.

“We have asked people to be vigilant, and they have been vigilant,” he said. “That’s why we’re now asking people to please be very careful about where they leave their bags in public.”

Trotter said work had continued through the weekend at all four bomb sites – three trains in the London Underground, and one double-decker bus. The forensic investigation is moving slowly through tons of debris from the bombing wreckage.

He would not comment on whether investigators had been able to determine the type or source of the explosives, or had found detonators, saying that was part of the investigation and would not be publicly announced.

Police did arrest three people at Heathrow under an anti-terror law, but they said it would be irresponsible to link the arrests to Thursday’s bombings.

Away from the bombings Sunday, the Speaker’s Corner in Hyde Park was packed, both with speakers and listeners. England played Australia in cricket at Lord’s Cricket Ground.

But the bombings were not forgotten. At Westminster Abbey, the Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, spoke about the struggles of the WWII generation and the similarities to today.

“Today of all days, we need no reminder that the spirit of murder and humiliation is still abroad, as your majesty reminded us on Friday, there is a generation of people for whom the sight of a devastated, bombed London will bring back harsh memories: memories not only of physical damage but of the sense of obligation to go on resisting the venomous tyranny responsible.”


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