In 2019, as part of our Fantastic Feats: the building of London outdoor arts programme, we partnered with Historic England to bring you Where Light Falls.
Inspired by original poetry, cutting-edge projections illuminated the facade of St Paul's Cathedral in honour of the men and women who risked their lives to save the Cathedral during the Second World War.
Putting themselves in the path of bombs, the daring members of St Paul’s Watch ensured the survival of a masterpiece that became a symbol of resilience. Historic England worked with the Poetry Society and leading creatives Double Take Projections, to uncover the hidden histories of wartime heroes.
Watch the highlights in the film below.
Lieutenant Robert Davies
12 September 1940 was a night of heavy raids over London. At 2.25am a huge bomb fell almost underneath St Paul’s Cathedral and went eight metres down into the ground. Lieutenant Robert Davies of the Royal Engineers led a team of men to tackle the unexploded device. A task of incredible risk and danger since detonating it would have destroyed the cathedral. The only option was to remove it intact. They used two lorries to pull it carefully from the ground and after three days of work they succeeded.
Yet the operation wasn’t complete. The bomb was still active and could have blown up any minute. Guided by bravery and sense of protection towards his men, Davies decided to drive the lorry himself and carrying the bomb, took it to Hackney Marshes in East London, a place designated for exploding live devices. He detonated the bomb which blew a 30-metre-wide crater.
Davies was awarded the newly-established George Cross in September 1940. He not only saved the building of St Paul’s Cathedral but all that the cathedral represented during the war: endurance, courage and resilience.