Today it’s been ten years since the 7/7 London bombings in 2005.
Thousands of people set off on their commute to work as they did every day; only for many to be left dead, hundreds injured and everyone a little bit changed by what unfolded that day.
“I remember walking past a bus. Fifteen seconds later, that bus exploded” – Buzzfeed
“My mum was on the tube behind the one that blew up. She missed that tube because she bought a croissant and a tea. She then went to the bus station but realised she’d just missed the bus she needed to get, so she decided to walk.Then she heard that the bus had blown up. She went and sat in a beer garden with her colleagues, all of them worried about leaving to go home” – Buzzfeed
I remember it well.
I was only thirteen but the massive shock and fear that the country felt makes it one of those days you never forget. I was at school and someone had caught wind of what had happened just before lunch time. The lack of internet access through our mobile phones at the time meant that we all gathered in the school’s printing room where they had a radio; listening for hours. I just remember all of us standing in a line getting in a lot of trouble for not telling the teachers where we were, having had missed two of our lessons that afternoon.
I think they were just desperately trying to avoid a panic amongst a thousand kids. We only lived around two hours away from the capital in Ipswich so a lot of people had friends and family that lived there and took the public transport in London during rush hour everyday. Only today did I realise that my new home in Leeds is just a five minute walk from where the bombs were supposedly made.
It was so frightening. It was really the first time everyone became aware and scared of terrorist activity in this country. 9/11 had only happened four years previous so the horror of that was still very fresh in people’s minds as the bombs struck; with everyone knowing and remembering the devastating effects that had left behind.
The four explosions in London in the underground and on a bus killed 52 civilians, injured over 700 and I’m sure had a massive effect on thousands more of friends, family and complete strangers on-looking across the country.
“My wife, daughter and myself were staying in a hotel at Russell Square. We heard the explosion. As a soldier, I knew what a bomb sounded like” – Buzzfeed
Being that the ten-year anniversary is amongst us, there have been a lot of news articles recently focusing on the lasting psychological effects of that day. To date, the NHS trauma response team has been able to screen 516 survivors, to which 34% of them were offered further psychological help.
It is estimated that between 25-30% of people involved in a Criterion A event can go on to develop full PTSD; which if correct, would imply that over one thousand people have developed the disorder from the London bombings.
“I walked to meet my husband from work with my daughter as he didn’t work far from home and I encountered literally hundreds of people walking down the road making their way home from work by foot as the buses and tubes weren’t running. It was surreal – no one was chatting or laughing. Everyone looked a bit grim and shell-shocked. When the buses got back to normal a few days later, I kept glancing at the number 30 top deck and noticing no one would sit up there. It was always empty. One afternoon I was with a few of my female relatives and we saw someone sitting on the top deck of the 30 bus (alone) and my relatives started clapping and cheering him” – Buzzfeed
But what about the people who weren’t there? Could it have affected them too?
Now I have never been a fan of the London underground regardless of this incident; I don’t like the feeling of being trapped and closed in. Living outside of the city I’d only ever used the service a handful of times up until a year or so ago, and so it wasn’t something I was used to or comfortable with at all.
But are people who were never afraid of the service before, afraid of it now because of the association with terrorist attack? I don’t know a statistical or researched answer to this question as all of the research I can find focuses on the survivors and people directly affected by the event, but surely there must be thousands of people who now feel uncomfortable and afraid of the underground because of it.
“For the first time, I realised I was mixed race and had an Islamic last name” – Buzzfeed
For people that had lived in London and had taken those same trains every single day for years before 7/7, I’m sure the majority of people would recognise the bombings as an isolated attack which is so incredibly unlikely to happen again. But if you’ve only ever been on the underground three times before in your life, is this the first thing you think of when you’re told you need to get the tube? Do you instantly get anxious and uncomfortable because of the fear of what might happen? I have friends that would light-heartedly mention ‘I hope I don’t get blown up!’ when they know they’ll be travelling on the service; but definitely with a nervous undertone.
Let’s face it, the tube doesn’t have the most friendly atmosphere at the best of times.
The truth is we’ll never know how many people that day has affected, from sadness and loss, to full blown post traumatic disorders, to specific phobias and nervousness – but it’s undoubtedly beyond imaginable the amount of people we’re talking about.
If anything positive can be taken at all from 7/7, it’s how amazing and strong as a country we are. #WalkTogether
“People who aren’t British don’t seem to get it. But to me, the fact that by Monday we were back to beating people out of the way for a seat on the tube shows the enduring blitz spirit this city has” – Buzzfeed
“10 years on, this is one of those days where everybody remembers exactly where they were when they heard the news, and it’s a day when we recall the incredibly resolve and resolution of Londoners and the United Kingdom; a day where we remember the threat that we still face, but above all its a day where we think of the grace and the dignity of the victim’s families for all they’ve been through and we honour the memory of those victims and all those that were lost ten years ago today” – David Cameron