Here you will find information about the air raids, the Blitz, the blackouts, the shelters...
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The Blitz

The Blitz (shortened from German 'Blitzkrieg', "lightning war") was the period of sustained strategic bombing of the United Kingdom by Nazi Germany during the Second World War.
Between 7 September 1940 and 21 May 1941 there were major aerial raids (attacks in which more than 100 tons of high explosives were dropped) on 16 British cities by Luftwaffe (German Air Force). Over a period of 267 days (almost 37 weeks), London was attacked 71 times, Birmingham,Liverpool and Plymouth eight times, Bristol six, Glasgow five, Southampton four, Portsmouth and Hull three, and there was also at least one large raid on other eight cities. This was a result of a rapid escalation starting on 24 August 1940, when night bombers aiming for RAF (Royal Air force) airfields drifted off course and accidentally destroyed several London homes, killing civilians, combined with the UK Prime Minister Winston Churchill's immediate response of bombing Berlin on the following night. Consecuenly Hitler ordered to bomb London and the most important places in England. At the beggining the targets were strategical points like factories, ports, airports...but as a result of the English attack over Berlin, the German decided to drop the bombs over the cities and the population.

The air raid focused on the points marked with three stars on a German tourist guide, Baedaker Great Britain, in order to undermine the moral of the population.
This was the guide.

This is the link that shows the places where bombs were dropped: Here you can check the bombs during the first night, weekly bombs and the total.

This is a picture of the aggregate bombs in London.

During the bombing,some women were employed as Air Raid Wardens. One of them was Mrs Smith. When she was on duty, she had to locate the place where a bomb dropped as quick as possible and advise to the warden in the bunker to phone the operational headquarter to send the fire brigade and the ambulance services. She also helped wounded people until the ambulances arrived. Then she had to fill a report.


The warden´s uniform was protective clothing, gas mask, helmet and a whistle.

After the warden acting, the firewomen arrive at the place. One of them was Ivy Jones. They had to be taught how to use and hold the hose. They were not allowed to be on the top of the bulding.

The wounded were taken to hospital, where doctors and nurses took care of them. One of them was Vivian Prince who worked at the hospital as a radiographer. They had to work in other areas: traumatology, ophthalmology, surgery... They were not able to attend all the wounded.

Here you can check how doctors and nurses treated patients.

After the bombing people lost all: houses, clothes, they had to go to the rest centres run by the old Poor Law deparment of London County Council. People whose houses were destroyed during the air raids could inmediatly go there. Sometimes they were rehoused in suburbs where bombs were not dropped. Sylvia Jacobs worked in one of this centres, looking after people and providing them with meals.

Here we can see some of the most relevants pictures of the air raids over London.

Heinkel He 111 bomber over the Surrey docks and Wapping in the East End of London on 7 September 1940

Liverpool city centre after heavy bombing

Firefighters tackling a blaze amongst ruined buildings after an air raid on London

Smoke rising from fires in Surrey docks, following bombing on 7 September

Coventry city centre following 14/15 November 1940 raid

View from St. Paul's Cathedral after the Blitz. It Became a symbol of resistance during the bombing.

Women salvaging prized possessions from their bombed house, including plants and a clock

Jeannette Jacobson, WAC, recalls serving in London during the second Blitz and being caught under fire by German bombers and vengeance weapons, V1 and V2 rockets, in World War II.

Communal shelters

Very deeply buried shelters provided the best protection against a direct hit. The government did not build them for large populations before the war because of cost, time to build, and fear that their very safety would cause occupants to refuse to leave "deep shelters" to return to work, or that anti-war sentiment would develop in large groups.
The most important existing communal shelters were the London Underground stations. Although many civilians had used them as such during the First World War, the government in 1939 refused to allow the stations to be used as shelters so as not to interfere with commuter and troop travel, and the fears that occupants might refuse to leave. Underground officials were ordered to lock station entrances during raids; but by the second week of heavy bombing the government relented and ordered the stations to be opened. Each day orderly lines of people queued until 4 pm, when they were allowed to enter the stations. In mid-September 1940 about 150,000 a night slept in the Underground, although by the winter and spring months the numbers had declined to 100,000 or less. Noises of battle were muffled and sleep was easier in the deepest stations, but many were killed from direct hits on several stations.

How it felt to shelter from the Blitz

Blitz survivor Leonard Phillips remembers hearing the bombs and the return fire down a lift shaft in Aldwych Station 70 years ago.

A tube station that doubled as a key central London air raid shelter has been re-opened to the public more than 15 years after it closed its doors for the last time.
Aldwych station on the Strand kept thousands safe as the Blitz raged above throughout the Second World War. A sold out exhibition recreating the station as it would have looked in 1940 and conducted by actors in period dress illustrated this event.
The station opening marked the 70th anniversary of the Blitz, when 79 stations were opened to shelter 63 million people from millions of bombs and incendiaries.

Some shelters were built by the goverment and were occupied by several people.


Due to the extreme situation, the railway station was used like a shelter.


However, English people needed a domestic shelters in case they were not able to hide in the public shelter or the tube. Sir John Anderson, Minister of Domestic Affairs designed it. The construction was reasonably easy with steel panels and cheap , so most of the English families could afford it. There were standard measures:1.4 m wide, 2m long and 1.8m tall. The shelters were buried over 1m in the ground and were covered with a thick layer of soil and turf. 3.5 millions shelters were built and were very effective to save lives. Many Anderson´s shelter survived after the war and were used as gardens sheds.
Women were very important to build and make them as comfortable as possible. Sometimes families had to spent there the whole night inside.

In this picture we can see a woman bulding a shelter.

Here a family is ready to spent the night in the shelter.

This picture shows a surviving shelter.

During the air raids, a huge amount of kids were sent with other families around Europe, specially to Scotland, where many of them were hosted by families. These mums had a relevant importance because they acted like a real mothers for those kids who were forced to leave their families in England.

References An easy explanation about the Anderson´s shelter ---- Learn about the Blitz (Air Raid in London) London fire brigades during the Blitz Nurses during the Blitz Information about the shelters