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Tuesday, May 11, 1999 Published at 18:23 GMT 19:23 UK


Queen Mother praises 'brave Londoners'

The Queen Mother remembers civilians who defied the Blitz

The Queen Mother has spoken of the "undaunted spirit" of Londoners during World War II.

She unveiled a memorial at St Paul's Cathedral to the 30,000 civilians who died in enemy bombing.

Some of the survivors of the Blitz attended a special service at the cathedral and met the Queen Mother, who lived in the capital throughout the war.

[ image: A memorial was unveiled outside St Paul's]
A memorial was unveiled outside St Paul's
During the ceremony she said Londoners had done well to defy the Blitz.

"I unveil this stone to the memory of those brave Londoners who gave their lives and suffered so much in the 1939-45 war," she said.

"Their undaunted spirit and courage allowed them to take the Blitz as it came.

"They defied it. And so today we remember them."

Boosting morale

During the war the Queen Mother visited many of the worst bomb sites and supported schemes to provide meals for people bombed out of their homes to boost morale.

The limestone memorial, designed by sculptor Richard Kindersley, was funded by readers of the Evening Standard newspaper.

[ image: The Queen Mother visited those bombed out of their homes]
The Queen Mother visited those bombed out of their homes
It is inscribed with the words "Remember Before God The People Of London 1939-1945" and a Winston Churchill quotation "In war, resolution; in defeat, defiance; in victory, magnanimity; in peace, goodwill".

Dame Vera Lynn, Winston Churchill, grandson of Sir Winston, Evening Standard editor Max Hastings and Lord Rothermere attended the unveiling.

'There was rubble everywhere'

One Blitz survivor described how she survived an air-raid.

Brenda Ward was just 10 when her school in Catford, south-east London, was bombed in 1943. The blast killed 38 children and six teachers.

Mrs Ward, now 66, was so badly injured she spent two years in hospital.

"It was a lunchtime raid. I heard a loud noise and looked out of the window," she said. "I could see the plane and it was so close I could see the pilot's goggles. We thought he was British so we waved at him.

"When we realised what was happening the teacher screamed at us to hide under our desks and then suddenly there was rubble and blood everywhere.

"My best friend Mollie lost both her legs. We were lucky to survive. I will never forget it but it is an honour to see this memorial being unveiled today."

  • The Queen has spoken out against "abuse" of the sea at the opening the new National Maritime Museum at Greenwich.

    "We use, and abuse, the oceans and the seas at our peril and must husband them carefully for later generations," she said.

    The museum, partly redeveloped with £11.8m of National Lottery funding, looked to the future as well as the past, said the Queen.

    "It is also reminding us, in case we forget, just how important the sea is in maintaining the delicate balance of nature," she said.

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