London is the capital city of the United Kingdom and England. Present-day London is a leader in international finance, politics, communications, entertainment, fashion and the arts and has considerable influence worldwide. London is one of the world's major global cities as well as the most populous city within the European Union, with an estimated population of 7.5 million people as of January 1, 2005 and a metropolitan area population of between 12 and 14 million people. In the Hogan's Heroes series, the prisoners at Stalag 13 were in radio contact with London passing along needed intelligence information, making requests for information, support and supplies and receiving orders for missions.
London was first founded in 43 A.D. by the Romans, originally named Londinium. It was destroyed in 61 A.D. during the Celtic revolt led by Queen Boudica, but was shortly rebuilt. After the fall of the Roman Empire, it was abandoned and a Saxon village named Lundenwic (modern Aldwych) was built nearby in the 7th century as a trading ship and fishing boat harbor. The area where the Roman city was built (called Lundenburh) was reoccupied in the late-9th century or early- 10th century as a fortified area against Vikings' attacks.
Westminster, which was located a short distance to the south west of London, was the traditional home of the English royal court and government since the mediaeval age. It grew together with London, eventually forming the basis for London, becoming England's largest city. In the 12th century it became the capital of England. Until then, the capital was still Westminster.
London had a steady growth over the next several centuries, either surrounding or making suburbs of the areas that were closest to what was now the City of London. From the 17th century to the 20th century, it was the capital of the British Empire. During the English Civil War, the city took the side of the Parliamentary forces. In 1649, Parliament had Charles I executed for treason after putting him on trial. In 1660, Charles II returned to the city from foreign exile, starting the English Restoration. In 1666, London was hit by the Great Fire of London, which destroyed a large part of the city, occurring one year after the last plague to hit the city. It took ten years to rebuild the city, but the city's growth then accelerated in the 18th and 19th centuries, making it the largest city in the world by the mid-19th century. During World War I, London was hit by several zeppelin raids, which killed about 700 people and caused some terror amongst the citizenry, but would be a portent for the bigger raids of the next war. London suffered severe unemployment during the Great Depression of the 1930s, but in 1939, the city had reached its population peak with 8.6 million people.
World War II
World War II began for London with the Declaration of War against Germany by the Neville Chamberlain government on September 3, 1939, after the Nazis had ignored his ultimatum of withdrawing from Poland. For London, the first several months of the war, now known as the Phony War period, was spent mainly in the evacuation of civilians, mostly children, from the city to the countryside, and preparation for air raids that so far did not appear. But that all changed with the German attacks of April-May, 1940, beginning with the German invasions of Denmark and Norway and culminating with their invasions of the Netherlands, Belgium, Luxembourg and France. On May 10, the day of the start of the German attack on the West, after several days of debate in Parliament over the responsibility for the Norwegian fiasco, Chamberlain resigns as Prime Minister and is replaced by Winston Churchill.
After the evacuation of British troops from Dunkirk and the Fall of France, London prepared for the Battle of Britain and a possible invasion. During the battle, in August, German aircrews accidently bombed London, which led to British bomber crews attacking Berlin on August 25-26. The reprisal raid in turn prompted Adolf Hitler to order the Luftwaffe to start bombing London. This began on September 7. The attacks on London gave the RAF a chance to reorganize and make good its losses before attacking the Luftwaffe in full force on September 15. This led to the defeat of the Germans in the Battle of Britain, as Operation Sealion, the plan for the German invasion of Britain, was called off. This also led to the Luftwaffe attacking London and other British cities at night, in a campaign now known as The Blitz. The campaign lasted into early-1941, causing a considerable amount of damage and lost of life, but also leading to the ordinary Londoner's resolve of taking it, as civilian moral never broke. The last attack on London during the Blitz occurred on May 10, which saw the destruction or damaging of such buildings as the British Museum, Houses of Parliament and St. James's Palace. It has been estimated that about 43,000 civilians were killed, and over 139,000 more were injured during the Blitz, while a million homes were destroyed.
From 1941 to June 6, 1944, London was the capital of a country that was to be the base for a large military force that would evenutally return to the continent of Europe. It was the home of the British government and the War Cabinet under Winston Churchill, who was both Prime Minister and War Minister; the staffs of the Chief of the Imperial General Staff, the First Sea Lord and the Chief of the Air Staff; Commandos, Combined Operations, S.O.E., Double Cross System, MI5, and MI6; Several Governments in Exile, including the Free French Forces of General Charles de Gaulle; as well as several industries that were of importance to the Allies' war effort. It also became the home of SHEAF, which was to lead the invasion force, under the overall command of General Eisenhower.
On June 6, 1944, the Allied armies under General Eisenhower invaded France to begin the liberation of Western Europe. On June 12, the first of the V-1s were launched. Of the Approximately 10,000 V-1s that were launched at England up to late-March, 1945, 3,876 (out of about 7,000 'hits') landed around London. Because of countermeasures, the V-1 attacks, and the later V-2 attacks, were not as successful as the Germans had hope, mainly thanks to the Double Cross System (Germans spies who have been turned and were now working for the Allies) misdirecting attacks so that they would land in underpopulated areas to the east of London, but still 5,000 Londoners were killed and about 16,000 more injured. On September 3, the first V-2s were launched against London. 1358 V-2s would eventually be launched against London, killing about 7,000 Londoners. On May 8, 1945, the fighting in Europe ended, with Londoners celebrating V-E Day with a massive victory celebration. On September 2, the war ends with the Japanese signing the surrender document in Tokyo Bay aboard the USS Missouri. With the war over, Londoners started the process of rebuilding their city which continued well into the 1980s.