Merseyside's Secret Blitz Diary: Liverpool at War Arthur Johnson
Adolf Hitler threw everything he could at Merseyside in the early stages of the Second World War. The region was torn apart and huge areas were flattened, but the one thing the Luftwaffe could not destroy was the spirit of the people. Hitler had ordered that the port, with its vital Atlantic links, should be destroyed and he almost succeeded. The death toll here was twice that of any other British port. In 14 raids on Liverpool and Bootle alone 3,100 tonnes of high explosives were dropped, 3,966 Merseyside civilians were killed between August 1940 and January 1942 and more than 3,000 seriously injured, over the eight days and nights of the May Blitz 100,000 house were destroyed or damaged on the Liverpool side of the river alone, in one week alone 41,000 people in Liverpool had to be found temporary accommodation because their homes had been destroyed. Merseysiders stood side by side throughout this nightmare period and one man, Liverpool Echo Blitz Correspondent Arthur Johnson, ensured that the facts would be preserved forever in a remarkable personal diary that he meticulously kept as he toured war-torn Liverpool night after night. Now his amazing insight into Merseyside at war is revealed in a new book that features the entire diary, exactly as it was written, plus many photographs from the unmatchable archive of the Liverpool Daily Post and Echo. Johnson, then in his early thirties, knew that the newspaper reports he submitted would be subject to the censor and that the truth would almost certainly not appear in the papers. The government policy was that there must be little bad war news for the public. So every time he returned home he would tap out the true story of the terrible massacres and bombings he had seen. He filed his reports in a grey folder entitled "Air Raid Records". The folder was kept locked away as it was totally illegal to keep records of this nature. Now the contents of this historic diary can be fully revealed. Arthur Johnson, whose son of the same name would later work for the local media, was a real character. What would he think about his secret diary being published 60 years after his death?