Thousands of Londoners were displaced by bombing and V-weapon attacks during the Second World War. Yet, whilst the rockets were still falling, a national rebuilding effort was already underway. Stockpiles of reclaimed and imported bricks show how the war effort had successfully turned Britain into a nation of salvage experts, ready to turn their hand to the repair of 750,000 damaged homes.
One of the abiding memories that civilians recall from this period is the great anxiety caused by the droning sound of the V1 rockets as they appeared over the London skyline. Their ominous droning would suddenly cut out, as the rocket’s engines stopped, causing them to start falling rapidly towards the ground. To anyone listening below, they could be almost certain an enormous explosion would follow, likely causing more damage to civilian housing and further death or injury.
The IWM Film Archive is the oldest film archive in the UK, holding over 20,000 hours of film, video and digital material and covering the two World Wars and all conflicts involving British or Commonwealth Forces since the start of the Twentieth Century to the present. Our collection also reflects aspects of civilian life in wartime, military life in peacetime, military exercises and operations.