Life Under Fire
The horror of Luftwaffe bombs coloured daily life in Britain's cities and beyond, and war brought myriad daily hardships besides. But Britain could take it!
The Blitz receded after May 1941, but even after the Battle of Britain, the nation faced a barrage of incendiary bombs, V-1s and V-2s. While young men fought Axis powers across three continents, their families listened anxiously to the wireless, while many worried too about children far from home. But in the face of the destruction, sirens, blackouts and hours in shelters, the now-legendary 'Blitz spirit' kept despair at bay. Britain held her nerve thanks to mutual support, defiance and wit - plus a good grumble and as many cups of tea as rationing allowed.
Amateur film193916 mins Location: Littleover
An air raid could come at any moment and Derby had to be ready to deal with the casualties. The people of Littleover were so well prepapred they filmed one of their exercises.
Government sponsored film19409 mins Location: London
Humphrey Jennings and Harry Watt’s famous GPO film is an enduring example of British self-mythology; a hymn to London’s resilience that helped persuade America to join the war.
Amateur film19406 mins Location: Walton-on-Thames
Woking's AFS demonstrates its fire-fighting skills in a colourful competition held in 1940 followed by slumbering firemen leaping into action when duty calls.
Amateur film193810 mins Location: Nottingham
As the nation slides into conflict, Nottingham prepares for a new type of warfare: the horrors of aerial bombardment and mustard gas attacks.
Amateur film19402 mins Location: Cambridge
An alternative home movie; mother and daughter participate in Air Raid Precaution Training, captured at the family home by amateur filmmaker Trevor Spittle.
War194235 mins Location: Chew Magna
Vivid colour footage of the wartime devastation wreaked on Bristol and Bath - and the barely affected village of Chew Magna.
Government sponsored film19426 mins
The story of how newspapers were distributed during the Blitz, stressing the importance of an accurate and objective press on the home front.
Government sponsored film194310 mins
An account of the many ways people contributed to the war effort on the home front, focusing on the work that went on through the night.
Amateur film194132 mins Location: Hitchin
Shooting and incendiary bomb extinguishing practice; the home front activities of the Hertfordshire Special Constabulary and Air Raid Precautions (A.R.P.) Unit in Hitchin.
Government sponsored film194516 mins Location: London
This British propaganda film, made in 1945 for newly liberated countries in Europe, takes a positive view of British resilience during the Blitz.
Amateur film193920 mins Location: Herne Bay
Members of Herne Bay's First Aid Posts gear up for gas-attack casualties in this remarkable film, which also features a visit to the deep tunnel shelters in the cliffs of Ramsgate.
Amateur film194621 mins Location: Leatherhead
Leatherhead applauds and thanks its Civil Defence Service volunteers for their sterling efforts, in this fascinating film made during the last months of the Second World War.
Amateur film194013 mins Location: Bewdley
The Bewdley Auxiliary Fire Service demonstrate their readiness as the tranquil Worcestershire town prepares for war.
Amateur film194216 mins Location: Ashbourne
The Flying Column of the Derbyshire Red Cross takes its vital blood collection service onto the road with a visit to Ashbourne.
Training film/TV programme194236 mins Location: Tower Hamlets
Fascinating, technical military film made during the Blitz showing how to deal with unexploded bombs in London.
Amateur film19505 mins Location: Llantwit
Drama created after the end of WWII by Neath brick-layer/projectionist Malcolm Brinley Jones to commemorate the bombing that people endured and those “who gave their lives”.
Home movie19404 mins Location: Sandiacre
With thoughts of the dangers of the Blitz in people's minds, a local tragedy in Sandiacre brings preparations into stark focus.
Amateur film19427 mins Location: Woking
Men of the NFS demonstrate their fire fighting equipment skills before an audience in this splendid colour film from 1942. And the best crews get the best prizes.
Amateur film194121 mins Location: City of London
Barclays Bank's London HQ adapts to wartime banking, as a keen amateur filmmaker records staff at work, rest and play.
Government sponsored film194515 mins Location: London
Britain counts the cost of war on its beleaguered housing stock and looks to rebuild new homes where thousands once stood.
Government sponsored film194220 mins
Humphrey Jennings and Stewart McAllister's masterly collage of the various people and classes of Britain - at home and at work, at war and at peace - is one of the great films of war-time Britain.
Amateur film19403 mins Location: Canterbury
Men and women of the ARP learn how to deal with incendiary bombs, evacuate buildings and rescue the injured from smoke and flames in this fascinating short film from Sydney Bligh.
Amateur film193915 mins Location: Ottershaw
The Giles family makes the most of the last weeks of peace with outings, sports and floral domesticity before ending with antics in an air-raid shelter.
Non-Fiction19404 mins Location: Bradford
A film of two halves, beginning with the citizens of Bradford wandering through a city centre ravaged by the bombs of the Luftwaffe, and then enjoying a leisurely game of cricket.
Government sponsored film194223 mins Location: Bristol
A behind the scenes look at civil defence work during and after a Luftwaffe bombing raid on Bristol during the Second World War.
Government sponsored film19428 mins Location: Falfield
An instructional film informing the British public how to act in the event of a gas attack during the Second World War.
Public Information Filler194010 mins
While Jack Crawford is serving at sea his pregnant wife Alice has access to all the care she needs at the local North London welfare centre.
Public Information Filler194011 mins
A commercially produced Ministry of Information film, explaining how vital information could be carelessly leaked to prying enemy ears on the home front.
Government sponsored film194410 mins
A commercially made Ministry of Information film, explaining how vital information could be carelessly leaked to prying enemy ears on the home front.
Amateur film194612 mins Location: Newcastle upon Tyne
As the shadow of the Cold War looms over Europe, Newcastle celebrates the soldiers and civilians who helped win the fight against fascism.
Amateur film194019 mins Location: Brighton
Brighton suffers in this sensational colour film showing the effects of the Luftwaffe's devastating raids on the seaside town.
Government sponsored film194420 mins
A ‘Careless Talk’ film made during the Second World War illustrating how scraps of information were pieced together and used to the enemies advantage.
19454 mins Location: Coton
A commemorative service in honour of the American servicemen who died in World War II, held at the purpose-built cemetery in Coton, Cambridgeshire.
Amateur film19455 mins Location: Aspley Guise
A Bedfordshire village celebrates Allied victory in the Pacific with a street party, captured in full colour by amateur filmmaker and Aspley Guise resident A.R. Sinfield.
Non-Fiction19406 mins Location: Llandrindod Wells/Llandrindod
The inhabitants of Llandrindod go all out to make carnival day special, despite war-time privation. They muster floats, majorettes, a sparkling dragon and a walking blackout.
Widgey Raphael Newman, the short-lived, extraordinarily-named director of this period piece, has assembled attractive images of Wales but beware the commentary!
Non-Fiction19458 mins Location: Bradford
Soon after the VE Day celebrations, there is a second chance to let the hair down, and these dancers make the most of it with much humour, besides the pomp of the official ceremonies.
Home movie194517 mins Location: Sheffield
Whether it’s the height of the war or its aftermath makes no difference to these children enjoying themselves: at the seaside, on V E Day and around the bomb sites of Sheffield.
Home movie194519 mins Location: Littleover
At Littleover in Derby the end of war in Europe is marked by Britannia leading a fancy dress parade. And, after nearly six years of war, it's finally time for a street party!
Amateur film19459 mins Location: Colwick
With races and a Punch and Judy show for the children and tug of war and a 'drunks' race for the adults the VE party at Colwick is soon in full swing.
Government sponsored film194355 mins
Britain for beginners... or Americans, at least. An information film explaining the wonders of Britain to new American arrivals during WWII.
Amateur film194014 mins Location: Broadwater
Life in Broadwater seems unaffected by the war in this film - especially when friends and relations drop by - though a closer look reveals that all is not quite what it seems.
Amateur film193915 mins Location: Welwyn Garden City
A great example of ‘despite war, life continues’, Welwyn Garden City residents continue with annual traditions, festive occasions and celebrations, during wartime.
Amateur film19459 mins Location: Newport/Casnewydd
Beautifully presented production from The Newport and District Amateur Film Society which gives a real flavour of city celebrations on Victory in Europe Day (8th May 1945).
The devastating firebombing of London in December 1940 is captured in great detail in this extraordinary film showing the work of the London Fire Brigade.
Amateur film19442 mins Location: Uxbridge
Brief film of the King and Queen leaving the RAF base at Hillingdon House in Uxbridge in the latter days of the Second World War.
Home movie194510 mins Location: Aberaman
The war is over so out come the cake and ale, the smiles and ‘V’ signs, and the effigy of Hitler that, tied to a lamppost, is for burning when night falls.
News19393 mins Location: Llandrindod Wells/Llandrindod
This is thought to be footage of an Armistice Day parade in Llandrindod which includes armed forces veterans, police, Girl Guides, nurses and Air Raid Patrol [ARP] wardens.
Relentless, dramatic footage of the fires and aftermath caused by bombing of Surrey Commercial Dock by the Luftwaffe on the first day of the Blitz.
Following one family from 1944 till after the war, this film tells the story of the women who worked to keep the home fires burning - not to mention cleaning the grates, darning socks, feeding a houseful on rations and waving off the uniformed heroes with a brave smile. It's an affecting and affectionate tribute to the vital role women played ensuring that husbands, sons and daughters had something to come home to.
Amateur film19401 mins
The 137th Light Anti-Aircraft Battery in training at Hurst Park in the early days of WWII
Comedy193968 mins Location: Highbury
This morale-boosting variety extravaganza – filled with radio personality Carroll Levis' discoveries - is like a wartime Britain's Got Talent.