Herbert Mason

Born in 1903 in Great Yarmouth Herbert Mason was the son of Walter Mason, who ran a photography businesses on the seafront and worked for the Yarmouth Mercury.

He joined the Daily Mail in the 1930s as a news photographer covering all types of stories.

On the night of 29 December 1940, Daily Mail photographer Herbert Mason was on fire watch on the roof of Northcliffe House in Fleet Street. He captured what became the defining image of the Blitz – St. Paul’s emerging defiantly from the smoke of surrounding burning buildings. The image appeared in the Daily Mail two days later under the headline ‘St. Paul’s Stands Unharmed in the Midst of the Burning City’. Ironically, only four weeks later, the photograph was reproduced by the Berliner Illustre Zeitung who used it not to show the resilience of the blitzed city, but to show that London was burning to the ground.

After the Blitz he became an official photographer in the Royal Navy sailing to Murmansk with Russian Convoys as well as Malta and Sicily.

He returned to the Mail after the war and became one of their chief photographers covering everything from the wedding of Angela Lansbury in 1949, to the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II, and the conflict in Suez in 1956 as well as sporting events, fashion and the trial of Derek Bentley.

Mason worked for the Daily Mail right up to his death in 1964.