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.
Activities Pictured at Littleover First Aid Post
Amateur film193916 minsSilent 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.
Kingsbury: ARP in Sandiacre
Home movie19409 minsSilent Location: Sandiacre
From their sandbagged headquarters, the Sandiacre ARP and Red Cross await their call to action.
London Can Take It!
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.
Keep Them Safe, Keep Them Happy
Charity appeal19392 minsSilent Location: Norwich
Sweet and touching wartime cinema appeal for 300,000 London children spending Christmas far from home.
Auxiliary Fire Service in Walton on Thames
Amateur film19406 minsSilent 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.
ARP: A Practical Demonstration of Nottingham Precautions
Amateur film193810 minsSilent 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.
Air Raid Precaution (ARP) Training in Cambridge
Amateur film19402 minsSilent 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.
Blitzed Cities of Bristol and Bath
War194235 minsSilent 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.
They Fight by Night
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.
The Shepherd and His Flock
Amateur film194132 minsSilent 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.
Fire of London
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.
Evacuees and ARP Training exercises
Amateur film193920 minsSilent 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.
Canterbury 1939 to 1940
Amateur film193911 minsSilent Location: Canterbury
As the last months of peace pass quickly by, Canterbury's firemen gear up for the war to come.
Civilians in Uniform
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.
Bewdley Fireman at Practice
Amateur film194013 minsSilent Location: Bewdley
The Bewdley Auxiliary Fire Service demonstrate their readiness as the tranquil Worcestershire town prepares for war.
Derbyshire Red Cross Flying Column
Amateur film194216 minsSilent Location: Ashbourne
The Flying Column of the Derbyshire Red Cross takes its vital blood collection service onto the road with a visit to Ashbourne.
Techniques Of Bomb Disposal II
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.
This Could Happen to You
Amateur film19505 minsSilent 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”.
Kingsbury: Buoyant Upholstery Fire and Incendiary Bomb
Home movie19404 minsSilent Location: Sandiacre
With thoughts of the dangers of the Blitz in people's minds, a local tragedy in Sandiacre brings preparations into stark focus.
Incendiary Bomb Demonstration
Amateur film19403 minsSilent Location: Canterbury
Learn how to deal with incendiary bombs the correct way in this short and fiery film from Sydney Bligh.
The National Fire Service in Woking and a Pump Relay competition in Guildford
Amateur film19427 minsSilent 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.
Carry On Lombard Street
Amateur film194121 minsSilent 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.
Bomb Repair Speed Up
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.
Listen to Britain
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.
Incendiary Bomb Practice
Amateur film19403 minsSilent 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 minsSilent 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.
Bombing BFD (Bradford) Cricket
Non-Fiction19404 minsSilent 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.
Health in War
Government sponsored film194013 mins
The young, old and infirm are evacuated from Blitz-hit cities in this moving testament to Britain's wartime organisational prowess.
Heavier Than Air
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.
Mother and Child
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.
Other Men's Lives
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.
Victory Parade Newcastle upon Tyne 8 June 1946
Amateur film194612 minsSilent 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 minsSilent 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.
The British public are encouraged to keep fit, as audiences are reminded they are “a nation of sportsmen” and “not a nation of spectators”.
Cambridge American Military Cemetary Service
19454 minsSilent 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 minsSilent 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.
Llandrindod Wells Carnival
Non-Fiction19406 minsSilent 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.
The Story of a Great Day: 3rd June 1944
Home movie194415 minsSilent Location: Knighton
As the world changes, Harry and Eithne celebrate their wedding at Knighton in Leicester.
Road to Yesterday
Widgey Raphael Newman, the short-lived, extraordinarily-named director of this period piece, has assembled attractive images of Wales but beware the commentary!
V.J. Day Celebrations
Non-Fiction19458 minsSilent 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.
Ibberson Family and VE Day
Home movie194517 minsSilent 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.
Baer: VE Day
Home movie194519 minsSilent 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!
VE Day Party at Colwick
Amateur film19459 minsSilent 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.
A Welcome to Britain
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.
Exeter after the Blitz
War19424 minsSilent Location: Exeter
Wartime meals-on-wheels and some rare snapshots of the bomb-damaged Georgian terraces of Dix's Field, Exeter.
Family Album to Entertain
Amateur film194014 minsSilent 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.
Welwyn Garden City - The War Years
Amateur film193915 minsSilent 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.
V.E. Celebrations at Newport May 1945
Amateur film19459 minsSilent 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).
London Fire Raids 29th-30th December 1940
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.
The King And Queen Leave Hillingdon House, Uxbridge (1944)
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.
Street teas - Aberaman, after 1939-45 war
Home movie194510 minsSilent 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.
Armistice Day - Llandrindod Wells
News19393 minsSilent 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.
Surrey Commercial Docks, Enemy Action September 7 1940
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.
The Weaker Sex
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.
Special! With Farnham's Own Anti-Aircraft Battery in Training - Somewhere in England
Amateur film19401 minsSilent
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.
Lift the Blackout
Charity appeal19413 mins Location: Church Stretton
St Dunstan's Charity in Church Stretton assists those who've lost their sight to become "self-supporting citizens"