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Powerful color photos give a look at London during the Blitz

Neil Patrick

The Blitz which is an abbreviation of the German word Blitzkrieg :  The Lightning war,  was the infamous  period of a 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.

Starting on 7 September 1940, one year into the war, London was bombed by the Luftwaffe for 57 consecutive nights. More than one million London houses were damaged or completely demolished, and more than 40,000 civilians were killed, almost half of them in London. Ports and industrial centres outside London were also heavily attacked.

An opulent collection of rare, color photographs of life in London and across the UK during the Blitz have been released by the Imperial War Museum.

All photos by:Imperial War Museum

A Civil Defence Warden inspects bomb damaged buildings in Holborn, London.

A Civil Defence Warden inspects bomb damaged buildings in Holborn, London.

 

A girl guide and a sea ranger selling saving stamps as part of the War Effort.

A girl guide and a sea ranger selling saving stamps as part of the War Effort. Photo Credit: Imperial War Museum.

 

A London messenger boy walking past a bomb site in London.

A London messenger boy walking past a bomb site in London.

 

A messenger boy walking past the entrance to the National Gallery in Trafalgar Square London

A messenger boy walking past the entrance to the National Gallery in Trafalgar Square London

 

ATS spotter with binoculars at the anti-aircraft command post, with a 3.7 inch anti-aircraft gun in the background

ATS spotter with binoculars at the anti-aircraft command post, with a 3.7 inch anti-aircraft gun in the background.

 

Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament in London with barrage balloons in the background, seen from Westminster Bridge.

Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament in London with barrage balloons in the background, seen from Westminster Bridge.

 

Lunchtime entertainment in a war workers' canteen - a view from the audience.

Lunchtime entertainment in a war workers’ canteen – a view from the audience.

 

Mr George Beckett, a volunteer with the British Home Front, uses a power hammer to forge the handle of a file

Mr George Beckett, a volunteer with the British Home Front, uses a power hammer to forge the handle of a file .

 

Nelson's column with salute the war effort' signs.

Nelson’s column with ‘salute the war effort’ signs.

 

Prime Minister Winston Churchill with his chiefs of staff in the garden of 10 Downing Street in May 7, 1945

Prime Minister Winston Churchill with his chiefs of staff in the garden of 10 Downing Street on May 7th, 1945 .

 

The Auxiliary Territorial Service at an Anti-aircraft gun site in December 194

The Auxiliary Territorial Service at an Anti-aircraft gun site in December 1940.

 

The bomb damaged areas around St Paul's Cathedral.

The bomb damaged areas around St Paul’s Cathedral.

The bombing failed to force the British into surrender or significantly damage their war economy. The eight months of bombing never seriously hampered British production and the war industries continued to operate and expand. The Blitz did not facilitate Operation Sea Lion, the planned German invasion of Britain. By May 1941 the threat of an invasion of Britain had passed, and Hitler’s attention had turned to Operation Barbarossa in the East. In comparison to the later Allied bombing campaign against Germany, the Blitz resulted in relatively few casualties; the British bombing of Hamburg in July 1943 inflicted some 42,000 civilian deaths, about the same as the entire Blitz.

The bombed site of John Lewis, Oxford Street, London.

The bombed site of John Lewis, Oxford Street, London.

 

The Minister for Aircraft Production, the Rt Hon Colonel JJ Llewellyn, MP at his desk

The Minister for Aircraft Production, the Rt Hon Colonel J.J. Llewellyn, MP at his desk.

 

Two Auxiliary Territorial Service girls operate a mobile power plant on an anti-aircraft gun site at night

Two Auxiliary Territorial Service girls operate a mobile power plant on an anti-aircraft gun site at night.

 

Two women weighing and packing bicarbonate of soda at a chemical factory run by the Ministry of Supply

Two women weighing and packing bicarbonate of soda at a chemical factory run by the Ministry of Supply.

Several reasons have been suggested for the failure of the German air offensive. The Luftwaffe High Command (Oberkommando der Luftwaffe, OKL) did not develop a strategy for destroying British war industries; instead of maintaining pressure on any of them, it frequently switched from one type of industry to another. Neither was the Luftwaffe equipped to carry out strategic bombing; the lack of a heavy bomber and poor intelligence on British industry denied it the ability to prevail.