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May 11, 1941 – NBC Morning News Roundup – Blue Network – Gordon Skene Sound Collection –
May 11, 1941 – News for this 616th day of war was to start in London, but direct communication with reporters wasn’t possible. So reports via teletype were read by announcers. It was the morning after what was described as the worst raid over London in the war so far. Hundreds of German bombers dropping thousands of bombs on the city over a period of six hours. The number of casualties wasn’t officially announced, but was only described as “high”. As morning came the city was still on fire, as smoke from incendiary bombs engulfed the horizon, turning the city into an orange/grey haze.
The raid was said to be in retaliation for British air raids on Berlin and other German cities the previous week – a pattern which would be repeated by both sides during the course of the war. Sources in London said some 33 German planes were shot down. Sources in Berlin said the raid was a success with several aircraft manufacturing plants destroyed by direct hits – in addition to the thousands of homes left in heaps of rubble. For their part, British bombers raided the German cities of Hamburg and Bremen as well as another raid on Berlin. There was no report on the size of the attacks or the extent of damage from the British raids. The Hamburg raids were said to have focused on shipyards and industrial areas.
Meanwhile, in Rome – reports of the arrest of 90 Italian citizens in New York brought a storm of protest in the press. Seems the suspects in question were working at the New York World’s Fair and had no way of getting back to Italy. One Italian newspaper proclaimed “the bellicose Americans have begun their pursuit on the Italians”. The strongest criticism came from the handling of the Italians in question. The press reported the New York Police used brutality and cameras in recording the arrests with some claimed the American authorities were going to use the photographs as proof in waging an anti-Italian campaign, promoting U.S. intervention in the European war. Another report claimed two waiters were arrested at their place of work and weren’t permitted to change out of their working clothes and receive their pay before being ushered off to Ellis Island. The Italian press were drawing similarities between this latest event and the most recent similar event involving German citizens in New York. It was all pointing up to signs of hostility from America, according to other newspaper accounts.
And that’s just a small slice of what happened, this May 11, 1941 – Day 616 of the War in Europe, as presented by NBC’s Morning News Roundup.