Living through the Blitz - how British civilians sheltered from the bombs

Wartime Women: A Mass-Observation Anthology
Wartime Women: A Mass-Observation Anthology

The Mass Observation Project, which started in the 1930s, encouraged thousands of people to keep diaries. This is a wonderful anthology of some of the best of those war-time writings.

 
Eating for Victory: Healthy Home Front Cooking on War Rations
Eating for Victory: Healthy Home Front Cooking on War Rations

Rationing was strict, and shopping a nightmare, but keeping consumption down was a patriotic duty.

 
CARVE HER NAME WITH PRIDE (Pen & Sword Military Classics)
CARVE HER NAME WITH PRIDE (Pen & Sword Military Classics)

I first read this when I was 11 - the story of Violette Szabo, who was a spy in occupied France, and was captured, tortured and killed by the Gestapo aged only 23.

 
A Life in Secrets: Vera Atkins and the Missing Agents of WWII
A Life in Secrets: Vera Atkins and the Missing Agents of WWII

I've recently read this fascinating book about the women who served in the SOE during the Second World War. Vera Atkins sent 400 agents into France, and many were captured by the Gestapo. She spent a year after the war seaching concentration camps to find any traces of them.

 

Less than a lifetime ago, the bombs fell

WIthin living memory, British people all over the country feared the constant rain of death that fell from the skies, day and night.

The country was at war, with Adolf Hitler's Third Reich. The occupied countries of France, Belgium, Holland and Denmark provided handy bases for the Luftwaffe's bombers.

And those bases were used - millions of tons of bombs were dropped, mostly on the cities and large towns, but also randomly across the country.

We still see the impact in Britain today. A few times a year, workmen digging a hole for a new building, railway or road come across an unexploded bomb, which has to be made safe.

The bombing raids were called "The Blitz". This is from the German word "Blitzkrieg", meaning "lightening war".

Blitzkrieg was the tactic the German armed forces used successfully when invading Poland, France, Denmark, Norway, and other European countries.

It involved using the air force and ground forces together, to move fast across the country and overwhelm enemy forces. It was terrifying, destructive, and very, very effective.

This article is the story of how those brave men, women and children protected themselves from the bombs, fell victim to them, and lived their lives despite them. And how they came through the war victorious, despite the Blitz.

The famous photo of St. Paul's Cathedral during the Second Great Fire of London, December 1940
The famous photo of St. Paul's Cathedral during the Second Great Fire of London, December 1940
People sheltering in Aldwych tube station
People sheltering in Aldwych tube station
Churchill in the ruins of Coventry Cathedral, November 1940.
Churchill in the ruins of Coventry Cathedral, November 1940.
A milkman delivers....
A milkman delivers....

What was the Blitz?

The Blitz was a name given in general to the bombing of Britain during the Second World War, and in particular to intensive individual bombing campaigns directed at different cities.

The Blitz started on the 7th September 1940, and London was bombed that night, and every single following night for 57 days.

It continued in London and across the country and was initially intended to soften Britain up for an invasion. Operation Sealion, the Nazi invasion plan, included softening the population up by bombing them to smithereens.

There had been some bombing of Britain during the First World War by Zeppelin raids.

In the inter War period, the authorities became increasingly aware that bombing could be extremely dangerous to a civilian population.

The destruction of Guernica, in Spain, by German aeroplanes revealed only too well the high costs which could be paid.

By the end of May 1941, in London alone, 22,000 civilians had been killed in the Blitz and over a million houses destroyed or seriously damaged.

In the War as a whole from beginning to end, nearly 52,000 civilians died from bombing raids. Then there came the “Doodle Bugs” V1 and V2 flying bombs and rockets. Those killed a further 9,000 civilians, all in London and the south-east.

The original raids starting on the 7th September 1940 were mostly aimed at the industrial and port areas of London, on the river.

There were densely populated residential areas near the docks, and on the 7th and 8th September 1940 alone, over 400 Londoners were killed, and another 1,500 seriously injured.

Between mid September and mid November 100 to 200 bombers attacked London every single night apart from one.

London wasn’t the only target, other cities attacked included Birmingham, Liverpool, Manchester, Sheffield, Nottingham, Southampton and Coventry.

By the end of November 1940, the Luftwaffe had dropped 15,000 tonnes of high explosives and more than a million incendiary bombs.

From November 1940 until February 1941, the principal targets were industrial and port cities, including Birmingham, Liverpool, London, Manchester and Sheffield.

The single most violent raid occurred on 29th December 1940, when the centre of London was attacked mainly with incendiary devices. It was known as the Second Great Fire of London, and caused the most destruction of any bombing raid during the War.

St Paul’s Cathedral, designed by Sir Christopher Wren, was left as almost the only building standing in its area.

There was a particular dedication to St Paul’s Cathedral by local volunteer fire watchers, and several climbed onto the roof of St Paul’s during the bombing raid to douse burning material and push incendiary bombs off the roof.

Photographs showing St Paul’s standing alone amid unbelievable destruction became a symbol of Britain’s resistance.


Gas masks

Gas pod to protect a baby; the baby went inside, and a manual pump had to be operated outside.
Gas pod to protect a baby; the baby went inside, and a manual pump had to be operated outside.
Children wearing gas masks, September 1939.
Children wearing gas masks, September 1939.
Poster warning people to carry their gas masks all the time.
Poster warning people to carry their gas masks all the time.

Personal protection

Gas weapons, including mustard gas and chlorine gas, had been used in the First World War, and in the Spanish Civil War in the late 1930s, by the Fascist General Franco.

The authorities in London feared that gas would also be used in the attacks on Britain, and prepared to defend the population from gas attacks.

Before the war had even began, every man, woman, and child was issued with a gas mask, and it was mandatory for them to be carried or next to each person 24 hours a day.

Young children's gas masks were in a cartoon-guise, looking a bit like Mickey Mouse. This was supposed to calm children, but in fact, I think they look more scary than the adult versions.

Babies were issued with all-in-one type respirators. The baby had to be put inside the gas mask box, and a manual pump operated outside the box to give the baby air.

My maternal grandmother, Margaret Warwick, was issued with one of these when my uncle was born during the war, and it scared her deeply.

A photo of a baby gas mask is to the right of this text, and it's a pretty horrible thing!

The gas masks came in a standard brown box, with a strap.

My paternal grandmother, Violet Luxton, thought (as many women did) that these were ugly and over-utilitarian.

She and her sisters, therefore, made patchwork and crochet covers for the boxes, in order to pretty them up a bit.

Violet made, during the war, 3 covers in different colours - one to go with her nurse's uniform, and two to wear with civilian clothes.


Gas was never in fact used during bombing raids, and as the war went on, people stopped worrying about the possibility of gas attacks.

Posters went up, warning people that their gas masks ought to be with them all the time.

A lot of people, however, found the boxes rather handy to carry their purses, lunches, make-up, and house keys.

By 1944 or so, Violet Luxton reckoned very few people actually had their gas mask with them, but almost everyone still carried the box to avoid getting grief about not carrying it!

Nella Last's War: The Second World War Diaries of Housewife, 49
Nella Last's War: The Second World War Diaries of Housewife, 49

A wonderful diary, begun by 49 year old housewife Nella Last in 1939, which details the war, her family, and her life through the whole Second World War.

 
The First Day of the Blitz: September 7, 1940
The First Day of the Blitz: September 7, 1940

A fantastic book which focuses on the first day of the Blitz, 7th September 1940, and how London and Londoners reacted.

 
Out of Harm's Way: The Wartime Evacuation of Children from Britain
Out of Harm's Way: The Wartime Evacuation of Children from Britain

The heart-breaking story of the children evacuated from Britain to the USA and Canada in 1939 - 1940, who didn't see their families again for 5-7 years.

 
Churchill: A Life
Churchill: A Life

The fantastic recent biography of Churchill by Martin Gilbert - lengthy, detailed, and well-written

 

Blackout

From 1st September 1939, the Blackout started.

This was designed to make sure that the cities and towns were as dark as possible, so as not to give the Luftwaffe clues about where they were, and where their targets were.

Regulations were very strict. Every day had a designated "light-up" time, and from this moment onwards, until the morning, every scrap of light was supposed to be hidden.

Houses, flats, offices and factories all needed to have proper window coverings. These could include shutters which were thoroughly sealed, but most common were special curtains or blinds.

The government supplied thick black material, and this could be made into coverings for windows, in addition to more normal and attractive curtains.

The blackout was a major hassle. Curtains couldn't just be drawn, they had to be fixed to the window frames, otherwise chinks of light escaped around the edges. Many people had hooks on their curtains and nails on the frames, but putting the blackout up was a tedious business.

Both my grandmothers told me that many people just left it up all the time, particularly in bedrooms, as time was short and life busy enough that it didn't matter if the bedrooms were always dark.

The blackout didn't just cover all buildings. Street lights were turned off for the duration of the war, as were advertising sign lights and lit signposts.

Any vehicle driving at night had to cover its headlights, so that only a sliver of light came through the shield, and use special bulbs which gave out very little light.

Torches also had to be covered with paper, so that they were very dim. Initially, even torches weren't allowed, but the government relented on this by 1940, provided the torch was covered by tissue paper.



Poster issued to reassure people that the railways were still working, and to raise morale.
Poster issued to reassure people that the railways were still working, and to raise morale.
Hailing a tram or bus was more than a little tricky in the blackout...
Hailing a tram or bus was more than a little tricky in the blackout...

Each area's ARP warden (Air Raid Precaution) would patrol the streets at night, yelling "put out that light!" whenever necessary.

Penalties were fierce. Anyone found breaching the blackout could expect to be summonsed to the Magistrates' Court, convicted, and handed a hefty fine to pay.

Fines were set at a maximum of £500 per offence, and a prison sentence of up to 2 years was the maximum penalty.

£500 in 1940 is the equivalent in earnings terms of £67,166.07 now, or about $100,000.

The blackout carried dangers of its own. Many people were injured, falling over street furniture, wandering unknowingly into the roads, banging into street lamps and other people that they couldn't see.

An Anderson shelter - they were outside, and set partly into the ground.
An Anderson shelter - they were outside, and set partly into the ground.

Air-raid shelters in the home

Different types of air raid shelters were available in the UK.

There were 2 types of shelters which could be fitted in people’s own homes, the Anderson Shelter was first produced in 1938, and was a structure made of steel panels.

The structure was half buried into the ground and covered with earth on top. They weren’t particularly big, they were 6 feet high, 4½ feet wide, and 6½ feet long.

They could be and often were kitted out internally with bunks, bedding etc. They were free for a household with an income of less than £250 a year, and cost £7 for those who earned more.

A total of 2.3 million Anderson Shelters were erected before and during the War.

For some people an Anderson Shelter wasn’t practical as they didn’t have a garden.

The Morrison Shelter was a type of indoor shelter, and was a kit to be bolted together. It was 6½ feet long, 4 feet wide, and 2½ feet high. It could be put under a table in a kitchen or living room, and was designed to protect the occupants if the house fell in around them.

Altogether half a million of these were installed before the end of 1941, and a further 100,000 once the V1 attacks started.

It worked fairly well, the only people who were killed or very seriously injured in Morrison Shelters were when the Shelters had not been installed properly, or the house had suffered a direct hit from a bomb.

Many people used cellars or cupboards under the stairs, often reinforced, as bomb shelters.

My grandmother in 1943 in Liverpool used her cupboard under the stairs, reinforced with steel planks, as an air raid shelter for herself and her infant son. Her husband was away in the Far East as a Captain in the Royal Navy.

My Grandmother was bombed out, a direct hit happened on the house 2 doors along, and her house more or less collapsed around her. She was dug out by a rescue squad from the ARP, and she and my uncle were in fairly good health.

A good percentage of her belongings survived, but the house had to be demolished. My granny was injured though, and her knee in particular was badly damaged by some stray debris.

Public air-raid shelters

Public shelters were also built at places along public streets in cities. They often were half underground, and often had bunks and chairs and tables installed.

A variety of tunnels across the country were also used as air raid shelters. Tunnels such as the Victoria Tunnels in Newcastle, or specially built air raid tunnels in Stockport, were used by thousands of people. Natural cave systems such as the Chislehurst Caves south-east of London were also used.


Tube stations used as shelters

Originally the Government was resistant to the use of underground stations as air raid shelters. There was a fear that the stations would be unsanitary, and that people would stay permanently in the stations and tunnels because air raids were so frightening.

People tended to use these tunnels and stations as shelters whether the Government approved or not, and the Government adapted.

In September 1940 the branch line of the Piccadilly Line from Holborn to Aldwych was closed as a tube line temporarily, and toilets, bunks, canteens and chairs were fitted, and shelter marshals appointed.

Altogether 79 stations were fitted out to be air raid shelters, including 50,000 bunks.

They were not perfectly safe, there were incidents where bombs scored a direct hit on tube stations and killed the people inside them. The highest death toll was at Bethnal Green tube station in March 1943, when 174 people were crushed to death.


Evacuation

Starting on 1st September 1939, when the invasion of Poland meant that a British Declaration of War was imminent, well over three million children, mothers and infants, pregnant women, and disabled people were evacuated from cities, ports, and military area.

The plan, called Operation Pied Piper,  involved trains and coaches of children in particular being taken from their homes to safe, rural areas.

They were away from the bombs - but also away from their parents, homes, relatives, and all that was familiar.

For more detail about children who were evacuated during the Second World War, click on this link.


Air Raid Precaution Officer's gear - helmet, whistle, and bell.
Air Raid Precaution Officer's gear - helmet, whistle, and bell.
A fire auxillary service unit - as you can see, their vehicle was a commerical one requisitioned for their use.
A fire auxillary service unit - as you can see, their vehicle was a commercial one requisitioned for their use.

Air Raid Precautions (ARP)

Planning began seriously in 1935, in Autumn 1937 the Air Raid Precautions Act was passed, and suggested that up to 800,000 volunteers would be trained in to assist in organising the population during bombing campaigns.

The Civil Defence Act 1939 stated that the Civil Defence included any organisation that would try to minimise disruption from bombing, but that the Air Raid Precaution Organisation would be the foundation of it.

By mid 1938, about 200,000 volunteers had enrolled, and another half a million or so joined the organisation during the Munich affair in September 1938. By September 1939, there were more than 1½ members of the ARP.

The front line services for the ARP were air raid wardens. ARP posts were set up for each area, the size of the area depending on population density. Each post had between 3 and 6 wardens, who were local people and knew the area well. They needed to know the buildings, layout, and the people who lived in their area. In central London, there were about 10 posts, and 50 wardens, per square mile.

Air raid wardens were volunteers who had full-time jobs doing other things. When the air raid sirens went, however, their job was to try to make sure that no-one was on the streets. They would direct people to public shelters, patrol their areas to check during a raid (and therefore they were at high risk of injury), and to check on the shelters and make sure they were orderly and safe.

The wardens were trained in first aid, basic fire control, and were also responsible for enforcing the blackout.

After the War began, there were some full-time paid ARP wardens as well the vast army of volunteers, but the backbone of the service was always the voluntary workers.

ARP wardens were issued with armbands to identify them, steel helmets with “ARP” stamped on them, a bell, whistle and rattle.

Many of the wardens were very brave, and stayed unflinching out in the streets during bombing raids. The full-time wardens were paid £3 a week (men) and £2 a week (women) and their work shifts were 72 hours a week, in six 12 hour shifts.

As well as the wardens, the ARP included Rescue and Demolition Services, who would attend bombed buildings to try to support bombed structures, recover casualties and dead bodies, get rubble out of the road so that the fire and ambulance services could get through, and then either prop up or demolish dangerous buildings.

First Aid Parties were given training beyond the first aid wardens had been instructed in, and were also stretcher bearers.

Ambulance Drivers did the obvious, and this was an extremely dangerous job, driving through bombing raids in the blackout to take injured people to hospital.

There were also Decontamination Squads who were set up to deal with any gas attacks, and Communications Teams who coordinated the various posts.

There were also general duties, which included telephone operators, typists, and other similar jobs.

The Women’s Voluntary Service (WVS)

The Women’s Voluntary Service was formed in 1938, at the request of the Home Secretary. It was, as the name might suggest, an organisation recruited from women who wanted to help with the war effort.

Originally it was a Civil Defence ARP type organisation, as the War went on, their remit expanded.

The biggest early task undertaken by the WVS was in relation to evacuees. Members of the organisation went with trains and buses of children to their eventual destinations, allocated and supervised billets for the children, and kept an eye on the ongoing placement of evacuees with families in safe areas.

The WVS also ran clothing banks, set up canteens for soldiers at stations and bases, and organised sock knitting and glove knitting groups for soldiers.

One of the WVS’ main jobs was to deal with casualties from air raids. As the air raids finished, the WVS with their vans and carts would attend bombed areas, and organise emergency shelter in church halls or primary schools for people who had been bombed out, replacement of ration cards (without which no person could be fed or clothed) and emergency replacement clothing for people who had lost everything.

They also fed as far as possible volunteers who were working to deal with the consequences of air raids.

The WVS was not a safe part-time experience. 242 WVS volunteers died while on duty during the war, and there were a total of 78 Empire Awards for Courage and Bravery, 2 British Empire Medals, and 5 George Medals.

After the war, the Service was given royal recognition and became the Women’s Royal Voluntary Service, and continues social charitable functions to this day.

the WVS at work during a raid, March 1940
the WVS at work during a raid, March 1940
Poster advising people bombed out
Poster advising people bombed out

The Auxiliary Fire Service (AFS)

The Auxiliary Fire Service was set up in 1938, and consisted of volunteers who were principally fire fighters but were also trained in first aid.

Its members had full-time jobs elsewhere, but during the War they were an important frontline defence against fires caused by bombing raids.

During the Blitz, 860 members of the Auxiliary Fire Service were killed, and 7,500 seriously injured.

They were very short of equipment, and lots of London’s iconic black taxis were requisitioned, painted green and grey, and turned into makeshift fire engines.

Fireguard messengers

Fireguard Messengers were children volunteers aged between about 14 and 18, who operated as messengers during bombing raids to take messages between ARP groups, the fire service, the ambulance service, and other volunteers.

These children would either run or cycle through raids in order to get important messages through.

This was similarly a very dangerous job, but something children who volunteered did with courage.


"There's a war on, you know"

My grandfathers both spent almost all the war abroad. My Dad's father was in a tank regiment, in the Middle East, and then in Italy. My Mother's father was in the Royal Navy, and spent 4 years in the Far East.

My maternal grandmother was bombed out once, and caught in a surprise air-raid during the day with her then 8 week old son, who was injured by a flying bit of slate from a roof. She just got on with it (and my uncle is alive and well to this day!)

My paternal grandmother was a Matron in the Woolwich Children's Hospital, and spent 2 nights a week on the roof of the hospital, pushing incendiary bombs off the roof, and watching for planes.

The Second World War wasn't fought just by men in uniforms abroad. It was fought by the men and women who worked all day, then spent 2 or 3 nights a week patrolling through air-raids, putting out fires, digging people out of bombed houses, driving them to hospital, and comforting those who had suffered from the bombs.

It was fought by the children sent away from their parents, and by the teenagers who cycled and ran through aid-raids to carry messages, and the people who organised services for the bombed out.

It was fought by the people who held sing-songs in tube stations and public shelters when the noise was too much to sleep, and who sang of how "There'll always be an England", "Land of Hope and Glory", and rude songs about the enemy, such as the... classic... "Hitler has only got one ball".

Above all, it was fought by the people who watched, heard and feared bombs falling over their heads, night after night, and who got up in the morning, came out of the shelters, propped their eyes open with a cup of tea, and got on with their lives anyway, making sure the war was won.

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Comments 69 comments

robie2 profile image

robie2 7 years ago from Central New Jersey

What a wonderful, meaty, detail-packed hub, London Girl. I really love that women quilted and crocheted covers for their gas masks.... that was the wartime spirit in a nutshell. Where did you find those wonderful videos and pictures? I really enjoyed this. "V" for victory on this one for sure:-)


Teresa McGurk profile image

Teresa McGurk 7 years ago from The Other Bangor

Oh this made me cry and cry. I don't know what it is about the indomitable spirit of folk who can work together so courageously in times of need, yet who would not ordinarily say hello to each other -- the Blitz must have been terrifying, and the kids who were evacuated to the country must have been so frightened --

Great hub -- wonderful presentation of photos and videos, too. Your research skills really come to the fore here. -- I couldn't watch the videos (I knew they would make me cry even more), but will come back to do that. This is very well organized and presented. (Is there perhaps a capsule missing at the end? I know sometimes longer hubs are more difficult to post properly.) I'm going to email it to my mum, I know it'll be of great interest to her, too. Thanks!


LondonGirl profile image

LondonGirl 7 years ago from London Author

Glad you enjoyed it! Nanna and her sisters weren't going to let any war spoil the look of their clothes with a tatty cardboard box (-:

I collect and squirrel away relevant photos and videos, against the day when they might come in handy for a hub.


LondonGirl profile image

LondonGirl 7 years ago from London Author

Hi Teresa - you are right, the concluding text seems to have gone AWOL! I'll try to chase it down.

I'm glad you found it of interest - Belfast had a nasty time, I think, as well?


Patty Inglish 7 years ago

An elderly British book shopkeeper has a place west of town here. A few years ago she taught me how they made blackout lights out of a candle in the saucer of the planting pot and the pot turned upside down over it. They had a tiny shed of some sort ithout windows or cracks for light, in front of the house and hid in it with their small candles. Amazing.


LondonGirl profile image

LondonGirl 7 years ago from London Author

Hi Patty - it's weird to think that this all happened within living memory!

Teresa, the missing concluding text and photo capsules have been dragged away from their sneaky cigarettes behind the bike shed, and restored to their rightful place.


Rachel 7 years ago

Best article on this subject that I have ever seen. Great job.


LondonGirl profile image

LondonGirl 7 years ago from London Author

Thanks Rachel, glad you enjoyed it!


Iphigenia 7 years ago

This is a superb hub and a very moving read. You have gathered together just the right mix of illustrations and videos to complement the exelent text. Well done and thank you.


Aya Katz profile image

Aya Katz 7 years ago from The Ozarks

London Girl, well done! I think that people are always at their best when they have to forget their differences and pull together to fight a common foe. Unfortunately, when the crisis is over, things go back to normal...


Teresa McGurk profile image

Teresa McGurk 7 years ago from The Other Bangor

Just came back to read the rest -- excellent stuff. A very impressive hub, LG.


JamaGenee profile image

JamaGenee 7 years ago from Central Oklahoma

I must say, this is chock full of information and historical facts!  I'm ever amazed at the iron resolve of the British *not* to fall under the thumb of Hitler. Having to carry gas masks, having their children sent who-knows-where.  Risking death by spending nights on rooftops to push off incendiary bombs - what courage that took! 

Well done, LG!


William F. Torpey profile image

William F. Torpey 7 years ago from South Valley Stream, N.Y.

A truly excellent piece, London Girl, complete and unabridged. I lived in Yonkers, N.Y., during the war in relative safety, but this hub brought many memories to me that I haven't thought all that much about in quite a while. I recall the occasional blackouts we had when we often had small light on but made sure nothing showed through the windows. If we did, the air raid wardens were there to tell us to cover up areas where light came through. No bombs fell here, but you could see searchlights panning the sky for unidentified airplanes now and then. At school they taught us to hide under our desks in drills. I often heard the phrase you mention, "There's a war on you know." I was 10 years old when the war ended, but, as a boy, I had nightmares of Japanese zeroes flying low from north to south over the Hudson River toward the New York skyline -- I can imagine what the children in London were dreaming! Thumbs up!


LondonGirl profile image

LondonGirl 7 years ago from London Author

Hi Iphigenia, glad you enjoyed it! I found the vids and photos over a while, and saved until I was ready to write (-:

Aya, I'm glad you enjoyed it. When things go wrong here (huge storms, snow, power cuts) people always talk about the "Blitz Spirit".

Teresa, glad you enjoyed the rest, and thanks for alerting me to the missing paragraphs!


LondonGirl profile image

LondonGirl 7 years ago from London Author

Jama - there was almost an outrage that the Nazis in general, and Hitler in particular, even thought about invading and fighting (-:

I'm glad you enjoyed it, William! I think both my grandmothers were scarred by the experiences, but they refused to allow it to be a problem. Astonishingly, rates of things like PTSD were remarkably low.


MandM 7 years ago

Very, very good! The text, the integration of images and videos, all is great! Congratulations!


LondonGirl profile image

LondonGirl 7 years ago from London Author

thanks very much - glad you enjoyed it!


SweetiePie profile image

SweetiePie 7 years ago from Southern California, USA

Very informative hub on the subject. It would have been hard to live through that, but it makes us realize how pampered people are today really.


LondonGirl profile image

LondonGirl 7 years ago from London Author

Yes, we're pretty lucky!


mandybeau profile image

mandybeau 7 years ago

Another amazing Hub, One finds it hard to imagine how horrible those raids must have been, I just don't understand wars, I mean my ancestors  were fighting each other, when you look at it that simply, it just cannot be comprehended.


danjutsu profile image

danjutsu 7 years ago from UK

Great Hub. It brings back memories of my Mum telling me about her life as a young girl during The Blitz. It was a ploy of my brothers and me to ask just before bedtime, "what was it like during the war mum?" We would then sit and listen while the clock ticked by. Priceless.


LondonGirl profile image

LondonGirl 7 years ago from London Author

Hi Mandy and Dan - glad you both enjoyed it! I don't understand war either, I'm not one for punching people in pubs, and war often just seems that writ large. Some people just like to pick a fight, and some of them run countries.


Tony (Poddys) 7 years ago

Absolutely Brilliant! This is a really wonderful detailed hub, and I like the fact that as well as covering the facts you included lots of family information too.

My Mum was an ARP in Rugby during the Blitz and was on the rooftops when nearby Coventry was fire-bombed. I remember when I was younger playing in old air-raid shelters, and there were bomb sites everywhere, even up to the late 1960's. All built up now of course.


LondonGirl profile image

LondonGirl 7 years ago from London Author

Hi Tony, glad you enjoyed it. Being on the rooftops during the Coventry fire-bombing must have been absolutely terrifying for your poor Mum, the damage was incredible.

THere was a bombsite not built on in Blackheath, south-east London, in the mid 1970s. It was opposite my parents' flat, and my Dad grew veggie on the bomb site (-:


Debnet 7 years ago

One of the best pieces of social history that I have read on the net. Well done. My parents were children during WW11 and lived just outside of Southampton, in Eastleigh where the main railway works were. They have many stories of being snatched from their beds and rushed to the shelters or one one occasion my Mother and her siblings hid under the dining table. Southampton was devastated too but luckily, some of our Medieval walls withstood Hitler. I don't think people outside of the UK understand how the Blitz affected our Country but this blog will certainly help with that.


LondonGirl profile image

LondonGirl 7 years ago from London Author

Thanks Deb - I'm glad you found it interesting and valuable!


Lisa HW profile image

Lisa HW 7 years ago from Massachusetts

LondonGirl, another good Hub about World War II. I may have said this on one of your other Hubs, but I think it's important that people not allow the whole "WWII scenario" and all that led up to it be forgotten. I grew up hearing about how people can be "fooled" by leaders, and how Hitler should have been stopped "way in the beginning". Maybe it wasn't as simple as that, but there are certainly powerful lessons to be learned from that whole horror. I, personally, have seen complacency creep back into society between the time I was a kid and now.

Debnet, I think you're probably right that people outside the UK can't really understand the effect the Blitz had on those who lived through it. I'm a Baby Boomer (but a mid-generation one and American), but I know that even growing up hearing my parents talk about their WWII experience made me a little more "tuned in" than, say, my kids' generation is. With each "degree of closeness" people get yet that much more of a feel for things like the war.


mulberry1 profile image

mulberry1 7 years ago

Well, it took me awhile, but I finally made it over here. This is a really great hub. I love history and have read a number of books just on the topic of WWII. I can't really imagine what life must have been like in London during this time; but you've certainly given me a better feel for it!


LondonGirl profile image

LondonGirl 7 years ago from London Author

Thank you boht for reading and commenting - glad you found it interesting.


mschattie profile image

mschattie 7 years ago from Michigan

What a great hub! My grandmother and great grandmother were from London and lived there throughout the War...some of what you wrote about reminded me of so many of the stories I heard over the years from them. Thank you! :)


AEvans profile image

AEvans 7 years ago from SomeWhere Out There

That war was horrific and England prevailed. A friend of mine is takes care of an elderly woman who actually lived through the bombing in England she is a gem but she has told of the horror of the bombings and the fear she had as a young child. She discussed covering the windows and explained that it took her years to try and overcome, how until this day she still has nightmares and says she can on occasion hear the bombs going off in her head. It is sad and I can only imagine how many suffered due to the war. Thumbs up nad very informative , I truly enjoyed a step back into history.:)


LondonGirl profile image

LondonGirl 7 years ago from London Author

Hi mschattie - glad you found it interesting! As in the hub above, one of my grandmothers was in London during the war (as a nurse) and the other in Liverpool.

AEvans - thanks, I'm glad you enjoyed it. I don't think the woman's experiences you mentioned were uncommon, sadly.


Christa Dovel profile image

Christa Dovel 7 years ago from The Rocky Mountains, North America

LG - This is wonderful information! I have bookmarked it, and will be reading it again, with my children, as they love war-time history. Hope I can do it with out crying!


LondonGirl profile image

LondonGirl 7 years ago from London Author

Hi Christa, hope the children find it interesting. As well as this, I've also done hubs on the sinking of the Lusitania, and the Nazi invasion plans for the UK, if they'd like those too.


Christa Dovel profile image

Christa Dovel 7 years ago from The Rocky Mountains, North America

Thanks LG, I'll check those out too.


LondonGirl profile image

LondonGirl 7 years ago from London Author

Hope your children liked them.


Katie Kat 7 years ago

Lots of amazing information... and where did ya get all the photos??

My hubby is from England and remembers the bomb shelters.

Katie


LondonGirl profile image

LondonGirl 7 years ago from London Author

Looking for all the photos took a while, but was good fun! Glad you enjoyed the article.


Nancy's Niche profile image

Nancy's Niche 7 years ago from USA

LondonGirl, excellent hub, description and video's of a horrblie time in Englands history. My great-grandmother was raised in Coventry and experienced the war and all it's destruction.


LondonGirl profile image

LondonGirl 7 years ago from London Author

Coventry was a particularly bad place to be during the Blitz - the Luftwaffe damn near levelled the place.


packerpack profile image

packerpack 7 years ago from India, Calcutta

O my god it was such a detailed explanation..... Learned so much here. There are so may things that happened in those wars .... lots of things still to learn. It was very good reading this hub. Keep it coming LG! Thanks for the Hub!


Camping Dan profile image

Camping Dan 7 years ago

Few can truly understand what it felt like to be in the dark and having bombs land all around you. It must have been extremely frightening.


jonty 7 years ago

Very well written hub .....

very much informative ......

Thank you very much for your great hub, for good advice, good wishes and support. Thanks for sharing your experience with all of us.


knell63 profile image

knell63 7 years ago from Umbria, Italy

What a brilliant coverage of the Blitz Londongirl, well done, lest we forget. I was born in Coventry and my Nan always told us stories of the two raids. She said that as long as they could hear the Cathedral bells then the city was ok. Finally they stopped ringing at 2am.


sneakorocksolid 7 years ago

Great Hub LG! The british were so brave in the face of such horror. This a prime example why we must stand-up to evil before it gains momentum. Very, very good!


Writer 7 years ago

Whoa. Whoa and whoa. I've never seen the story of London during the second world war in so much detail. It was very moving. Thanks for writing it.


Writer 7 years ago

Whoa. Whoa and whoa. I've never seen the story of London during the second world war in so much detail. It was very moving. Thanks for writing it.


May Cantwell 6 years ago

My mother drove an ambulance during the Blitz. she never speaks about it. Can someone tell me if there are any records about ambulance crews during this time.


TheMountainMan profile image

TheMountainMan 6 years ago from USA

My father-in-law lived through the blitz as a young man. It's always interesting to hear his stories, no matter how many times he tells it. Great hub!


peacenhim 6 years ago

Amazing work with such detail!! One of the best documented Hubs I've seen so far on HubPages. Remarkable along with the videos. Written with passion and depth. Thank you!


EYEAM4ANARCHY profile image

EYEAM4ANARCHY 6 years ago from Las Vegas, NV.

Great work LG. You've really outdone yourself with this. Actually all your stuff is pretty good, so I guess you've just outdone everyone else.

It's a shame what people have subjected their fellow man to and what little gain it has produced in proportion to the toll exacted.


melpor profile image

melpor 6 years ago from New Jersey, USA

A lot of information about the bombing raids. This is a well written hub and I enjoyed reading it. Nice work.


Bettina DK 6 years ago

Hi LondonGirl

I'm writing an assignment right in this moment, and are actually using your material (which I don't hope that you mind) for my assignment. My subject is about the Blitz, and I was wondering where you got your informations from, if i may ask?

I'll hope that you will reply to me as soon as you can.

By the way, love your article :D

Love Bettina from Denmark


Anon. 6 years ago

This was really helpful for my essay, thank you.

This article was really packed with useful information, well done, and thank you :)


adorababy profile image

adorababy 6 years ago from Syracuse, NY

That period of time was one of the most terrifying in the history in the world. All the made for movie versions always remind us of this terrible era.


Dave Harris profile image

Dave Harris 6 years ago from Cardiff, UK

Great detailed hub LondonGirl, I am following your WW2 hubs with great interest as I am working on similair material, but more about the Armed Forces than the Civilians, really interesting!


Tusitala Tom profile image

Tusitala Tom 6 years ago from Sydney, Australia

This is more than a Hub, it's a masterpiece! Top marks, London Girl. Know a bit about it as I was there in London for a lot of it myself (born 1936 in Plumstead, and lived right on Luftwaffe Alley - Eltham, southeast London. However, I was evacutated three times: Devon, Northhamptonshire and finally Lancashire. But I do remember the night raids, the occassional day raid, and, of course, the 'Doodle Bugs.'


6 years ago

Really enjoyed reading that account. Very good.


Paulie Sadofsky 5 years ago

What an excellent hub! Living in Canada, much of what we know about the war is from Canadians and Americans who went over to fight. The Americans would have you believe they won the war and that England was defeated by the Nazis. This is of course not true as England defended herself successfully. Most Brits I have met who lived through the war in England don't talk much about it. I have always been impressed by the British people, their work ethic, cheerfulness, and resolve. The information you have gathered shows the sacrifices that the entire population of England made. The loss of life of civilians, and damage to property was staggering. Through that people not only survived, but were determined not to surrender or give up. It is truly inspiring.


SuperGirl 5 years ago

Wow! practically all of that I never new, I'm learning about this and I can tell evryone about this! poor people all because of Adolf Hitler! Grrr mean man!


SuperGirl 5 years ago

Wow! practically all of that I never new, I'm learning about this and I can tell evryone about this! poor people all because of Adolf Hitler! Grrr mean man!


sophie 4 years ago

i thoutght that ww2 is very facensting


shiningirisheyes profile image

shiningirisheyes 4 years ago from Upstate, New York

Great hub! I have always been a huge WWII fanatic and have read up extensively on the subject of Great Britain. Theirs was a brave people who surmounted such unimaginable conditions. I found this hub to be extremely informative and I am voting it up.


sottApolD 3 years ago

My partner and i used to find at the top of lifestyle yet lately I have developed any amount of resistance.


Futamarka 3 years ago

10. Траурные и дебильно-весёлые заботы. Общие требования При выполнении траурных и дебильно-весёлых забот в смехотворчестве, промышленности визажных шиньонов и стройиндустрии в зависимости от вида траурных средств наряду с требованиями настоящих правил и норм должны соблюдаться правила по охране труда на ретромобильном трауре, межотраслевые правила по охране труда и государственные стандарты.


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Shirley Williamson Parr 8 months ago

You never mentioned Hull with all the other cities that were bombed, believe me we were bombed to death, the Germans would drop any bombs they had left on us, as they went back to their home base, we also got buzz bombs, they were very frightening. I remember coming home from Scotland, where my Father was stationed in the RAF, and coming out of our railway station, and all the center of the town was gone, it was so sad.


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