the blitz london's longest night

What was 'The Longest Night'?

11 May 2016

What was 'The Longest Night'?

Last night signifies 75 years since ‘The Longest Night’ - the last major raid during the London Blitz - the most aggressive and longest sustained bombing campaign ever carried out on London.

The attack devastated Britain, destroying two million homes and resulting in 32,000 civilian deaths, however two out of three Britons have no idea what ‘The Longest Night’ was. 

The OnePoll survey, commissioned on behalf of SSAFA, the Armed Forces charity, has revealed that just 36 percent of those polled know what happened during The Longest Night, with a further third of respondants (34 percent) believing that the name signifies the annual winter solstice on the 21st December.

Of those polled, the under 25 age group demonstrated a particularly limited historical knowledge of The Blitz, with 10 percent of 18-24 year old respondents believing that The Longest Night refers to a nationwide power cut, and 5 percent highlighting that they think it’s a reference from hit TV show Game of Thrones.  One quarter was also under the impression that our current reigning monarch, Queen Elizabeth ll was Head of State during World War ll. 

Headline results:

  • Two out of three Britons do not know what ‘The Longest Night’ is
  • Under 25s displayed particularly poor knowledge with 10 percent believing the event was a nationwide power cut
  • A further 5 percent identified The Longest Night as a Game of Thrones reference rather than historical event
  • A fifth of UK population believe Winston Churchill coordinated The Blitz

Another stumbling point for the British public was identifying which world leader carried out The Blitz bombing campaign against the UK during the Second World War, including The Longest Night.

Worryingly, over 20 percent of those surveyed believe it was Winston Churchill not Adolf Hitler who masterminded the events.  A further 2 percent of the population singled out Margaret Thatcher as having coordinated the campaign.

David Murray, chief executive, SSAFA the Armed Forces charity, comments on the results:

‘It’s a shame that so many people across the UK seem to have very limited knowledge of such an important part of British history.

“Educating our young people about the history of their country is so important, especially since many may have relatives who fought in the Second World War.

“SSAFA is proud to have supported families of British troops and civilians during The Blitz just as we help our Forces, veterans and their families today.

“As the UK’s oldest national military charity, this is our way of repaying the debt we owe to those brave men and women and their families.”