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World War 2 Photos

Updated on June 30, 2012

Photos of WW2 Damage

An old relative, known to me as Uncle Wilf (surname English) died and I found some old photos and other papers from World War 2. I decided to publish the photos on this lens showing how parts of London looked after being bombed during World War 2 (WW2).

I'm doing this because, like most people, I am opposed to war and violence. I think we sometimes see the damage to buildings in conflicts like Gaza or Iraq but often it doesn't really strike home what all of this means. It's only when things are on our own doorstep that we fully understand the awfulness of war.

In the USA I'm sure that the dreadful 9/11 emphasised this to the people of New York and all of America. Perhaps the following photos might do the same for us British people, especially Londoners.

Okay, these WW2 pictures are obviously very old but when you see London landmarks, like St. Paul's Cathedral, surrounded by bomb sites it must surely make us feel that such scenes must never happen again. More importantly it's a reminder of all of the innocent lives lost.

The photo shows Uncle Wilf as a young man, he's the one on the right.

The photo shows how there was World War 2 damage all around St.Paul's Cathederal, London but somehow this wonderful building stayed in tact. The view is from Distaff Lane, London.

You can see Distaff Lane in relation to St.Pauls Cathederal today on Google Satellite Map here.

This drawing was amongst Uncle Wilf's old papers. I'm not sure who drew the soldier but it is remembering the 1914-18 World War 1.

'Lest We Forget' is the caption at the bottom but I guess we didn't learn our lessons properly from the First World War.

The phrase Lest We Forget was often used following World War 1 and is from a poem by Rudyard Kipling called Recessional.

G.P.O. from Newgate Street, London

G.P.O. from Newgate Street, London
G.P.O. from Newgate Street, London

Presumed Killed In Action

I find the following letter to be one of the saddest amongst Uncle Wilf's papers. It is addressed to his sister Ella from the War Organisation in 1943. It informs her that her fianace is 'now presumed to have been killed in action.'

Leslie Moat was the love of Ella's life and she remained single for the rest of her life.

I don't think that it's necessary to say anything else.

Click on the letter for a larger, more readable size.

This shows again World War 2 damage of St.Andrews from High Holborn, London.

It Wasn't Just London That Got Damaged In WW2

Though most of the photos on this page are of London during WW2 there was, of course, damage throughout Europe and other countries including Germany.

My wife was born in Germany and one of her close relatives, a farmer, was killed towards the end of the war. He was drafted into the army, along with many others, as a last thrust by Hitler and was sent straight to the front line where he died within days.

My best friend in England also had a close relative who was killed in the same war, again a gentle man from the countryside.

These two were, therefore, enemies. But if there hadn't have been a war they would have got on well and had lots in common to discuss. There is no way they would have ever have hated each other.

Makes you think.

Monkwell Street and Cripplegate Church, London

Monkwell Street and Cripplegate Church, London
Monkwell Street and Cripplegate Church, London

WW2 Identity Cards

During World War 2 all British residents were issued with Identity Cards which could be checked on demand,

The Home Guard or Local Defence Volunteers would set up road blocks, especially when German airmen had been shot down, and would check peoples' Identity Cards.

The Home Guard were laughed at in the television classic series Dad's Army but they did lots of important duties including the guarding of buildings which had been bombed to prevent looting.

Their weapons were in short supply and they often made their own out of old pipes or knives.

The general public were asked to donate any shotguns or other weapons for the Home Guard to use.

If only Mr. Hitler had known!

New Basinghall Street, London

New Basinghall Street, London
New Basinghall Street, London

WW2 Deferment From Military Service

Uncle Wilf was doing important work with machinery during WW2 and this is a letter from his employer showing his 'deferment from military service.'

Click image for larger size.

St. Paul's from Paternoster Row, London

St. Paul's from Paternoster Row, London
St. Paul's from Paternoster Row, London

Daily Sketch VE Day Issue

The Daily Sketch newspaper from Tuesday May 5, 1945 with the headline THIS IS VE-DAY and saying that the 'Premier is to broadcast at 3p.m.: Two days holiday.'

Click on photo above for larger image.

Behind High Holborn, London

Behind High Holborn, London
Behind High Holborn, London

WW2 Rationing For Clothes and Food

Even when World War 2 was finally over rationing continued. Below is Uncle Wilf's Clothing Coupon Book.

London Wall, London

London Wall, London
London Wall, London

WW2 Ration Book For Food

And below is a Ration Book for sugar, bacon, cheese, fats, eggs and meat. This continued in Britain until the early 1950's.

Ludgate Hill, London

Ludgate Hill, London
Ludgate Hill, London

To help support World War 2 the War Office in Britain set up a War Savings Campaign. Local collections were made to help raise cash for planes, tanks and other items needed for the war. The advert above was a typical newspaper appeal for funds.

St. Nicholas Cole Abbey, Queen Victoria Street, London

St. Nicholas Cole Abbey, Queen Victoria Street, London
St. Nicholas Cole Abbey, Queen Victoria Street, London

World War 2 Victory Celebrations

8th June 1946

Though World War 2 ended in 1945 the British Victory Celebrations were held on the 8th of June 1946 in London. Amongst Uncle Wilf's papers was the Official Programme for the event. The cover of the programme is below. Click on either of the images for a larger version.

The programme has 20 pages and I thought it would probably be a bit too much to copy them all. I have therefore just copied the 'Marching Column' showing the route this took in London and some of the bands involved from different parts of the world.

The actual Victory Celebrations started with a March Past commencing at 9.18 a.m. This featured the 'Mechanised Column' and the 'Marching Column'.

The celebrations went on throughout the day with afternoon events and music in the Main London Parks including Hyde Park, Green Park, St.James Park and Regent's Park.

In the evening there was dancing, an apparance by the King and Queen, fireworks, searchlight displays and finally at 11.45 p.m.everything ended with 'the firing of 50 magnesium shells and the playing of the National Anthem.'

I guess it's hard to imagine how all of this must have felt after six years of war, bombing and destruction. The relief must have been immense. No more air raid sirens, no more rushing to air raid shelters at all hours of the day and night and no more blackout curtains at the windows. And, of course, most importantly no more loss of lives.

Let us pray that this never, ever happens again.

For UK residents Amazon UK have many books on World War 2 at this link

Winston Churchill Quote:

To jaw-jaw is always better than to war-war.

Winston Churchill

World War II Books From Amazon

Any WW2 Stories Or Comments Welcome

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    • profile image


      7 years ago

      Great Photos Mike, Just found this link and hoped you'd have some photos from St James's park. Apparently there was a defected German plane that landed in St Jame 's Park, don't have any more information but have the photo.

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      My parents lived in Glasgow, as "the" industrial city in the empire they saw bombing almost every night. It fascinates me the easy manner in which they talk about it.

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      Very interesting lens, enjoy learning more about history. Thanks for sharing the photos!

    • profile image

      the777group lm 

      9 years ago

      "Who do you think you are kidding, Mr. Hitler

      If you think Old England's done..."

      A wonderful reminder of heroic and braver times.

    • Virginia Allain profile image

      Virginia Allain 

      9 years ago from Central Florida

      I think it is extremely valuable to share these kinds of photos and memorabilia for historians and ordinary people to see what it was like in that time and place. Hopefully others will follow your example.

    • LizMac60 profile image

      Liz Mackay 

      10 years ago from United Kingdom

      Great historical lens Mike 5 stars

    • Suzie-Shine profile image


      10 years ago

      To think I was near St.Pauls at the weekend and then I see the photos on your lens. It really strikes home what WW2 must have been like. Hard to imagine. Five star lens.


    • Tobbie LM profile image

      Tobbie LM 

      10 years ago

      Great photos, I have added your lens to my Glenn Miller lens to help spread the word...5Stars

    • Faye Rutledge profile image

      Faye Rutledge 

      10 years ago from Concord VA

      Thanks for sharing your pictures, etc. My father was in WWII and my Mom has some photos, also. Great idea for a lens!

    • ElizabethJeanAl profile image


      10 years ago

      Great photos.

      Thanks for sharing


    • profile image


      10 years ago

      Loved it! 5*

    • profile image


      10 years ago

      Beautiful pictures, for those of you looking for more images

      here is a link to WW2 medical photographs.

      and a link to images of military personal.

    • thepartyanimal2 profile image


      10 years ago

      Wow - what a great lens and pictures are wonderful

    • CherylK profile image

      Cheryl Kohan 

      10 years ago from Arizona

      Those photos are such wonderful pieces of history and you've presented them beautifully.

      My mother was in the WRNS. Her brother, Alfie, was a bombardier with the Royal Air Force. He was killed when his plane went down during WWII.

      I'm favoriting this so I will be sure to get a notice if you update it.

    • clouda9 lm profile image

      clouda9 lm 

      10 years ago

      How fortunate for you that you got these pictures...thank you for sharing them here on Squidoo!

    • Darla Dixon profile image

      Darla Dixon 

      10 years ago

      Thank you for sharing these wonderful photos. My mother still has her WWII ration book, and I have a few of my father's WWII era ephemera he saved. It is so meaningful to hold those in my hand and think about that time.

    • roamingrosie profile image


      10 years ago

      This is an amazing lens. Incredible photos. It's a very personal view of history and is very well done.

    • profile image


      10 years ago

      Great photographs .

    • SandyMertens profile image

      Sandy Mertens 

      10 years ago from Frozen Tundra

      Good to see all those vintage photos of a trying time in history. Great lens.

    • profile image


      10 years ago

      A fantastic lens. 5* I hate it when people treat war as though it were a video game instead of something incredibly distressing with real people involved.

    • TonyPayne profile image

      Tony Payne 

      10 years ago from Southampton, UK

      This is a really great lens, 5***** well deserved. I grew up in England and remember even in the 60's that there were places still in ruins from the Blitz. I have some of my family souvenirs too, but no photos of WWII. Got a lot of naval stuff from WWI from my grandfather. My Mum was an ARP warden and was on the rooftops in Rugby when the Germans fire-bombed nearby Coventry.

    • profile image


      10 years ago

      VERY cool lens... Some of those pictures are incredible!

    • profile image


      10 years ago

      What a wonderful lens Snoozle! I very happy that I stopped by to read it. My Dad was in WWII, so I find this interesting. - My best wishes always! - Susie

    • cyberpunkdreams1 profile image


      10 years ago

      This is a great lens, much better and more important than the great long lists of stuff to buy one usually ses on here! It's so important that this kind of thing is shared and remembered.

    • MikeMoore LM profile image

      MikeMoore LM 

      10 years ago

      Wow, what a great lens. Thanks for the read. I'm adding it to my favorites now.

    • SusanFaye profile image


      10 years ago

      Thanks for sharing this wonderful collection! I am going to forward it to my son who is majoring in History--I know he will enjoy it!

    • profile image


      10 years ago

      Excellent lens and great photos. I can see St. Paul's Cathedral from my kitchen window and it's quite a different view now.

    • SimilarSam profile image

      Samuel Franklin 

      10 years ago

      Lovely collection of photos and information you have gathered here. I know some people that faught in WW2, unfortunately they are no longer with us.

    • OhMe profile image

      Nancy Tate Hellams 

      10 years ago from Pendleton, SC

      This lens just gave me chills. Excellent job. Thank you so much for sharing these very special photos and memorabilia from a horrible time in our history.

    • dc64 lm profile image

      dc64 lm 

      10 years ago

      I can only imagine what you felt as you looked at these pictures for the first time. Thanks for giving us a chance to peek into the past and honor those brave soldiers who were called to duty.

    • Charlino99 profile image

      Tonie Cook 

      10 years ago from USA

      My Grandmother had ten children. Six out of those ten were in the service during WW2. I have a photo of my MIL standing by her bike in front of a building in Naples that was riddled with bullet holes. This is a fine lens.

    • profile image


      10 years ago

      Great Lens. Let us never forget. Somethings in history need to be remembered. Thanks for sharing!!! 5*****

    • profile image


      10 years ago

      Great history stories, thanks for sharing your original pieces. I love the sketch.

    • profile image


      10 years ago

      Awesome lens that should be a lens of the day! The "Presumed Killed In Action" touches my heart -- how sad of a loss.

    • jimmielanley profile image

      Jimmie Quick 

      10 years ago from Memphis, TN, USA

      Very neat images from history! Thanks for sharing!

    • delia-delia profile image


      10 years ago

      great lens! what a shame the result of wars...when will we learn...thanks for sharing your interesting items and photos...5*

    • evelynsaenz1 profile image

      Evelyn Saenz 

      10 years ago from Royalton

      My parents assured me that there would never be a war like WWII again but that's not the way it feels to people living in War Zones. War is never the solution to any problem. I hope that you are right that publishing these photos of war torn London will convince others that war is wrong no matter where it is.

    • Gordon N Hamilton profile image

      Gordon N Hamilton 

      11 years ago from Wishaw, Lanarkshire, United Kingdom

      Yes,I have so often heard my Mother's tales of what it was like in the air-raid shelter as the bombs were falling, trying to hit Glasgow's Clyde shipyards.

      Very poignant lens.


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