London was a very different city in 1941. Alongside the landmarks we all recognize there were clear signs of the Blitz and the toll that war was taking on the city. From schools, to Trafalgar Square to bomb shelters and shop fronts, these photos give you an insight into the way London had to change during the early 1940s.
Children eating at tables in the playground of their bomb-damaged school in London.
St Paul’s cathedral which amazingly managed to escape bomb damage despite devastation to the surrounding area.
A female Fire Guard using a stirrup pump on the roof of a building (Senate House in London, the Ministry of Information headquarters) in London, 1941.
Rip the dog (who was used to search for survivors in bomb wreckage) and an ARP Warden survey the scene of devastation following an air raid in Latham Street, Poplar.
L M MacBride of the Publications Division of the Ministry of Information sends a cable to ‘Parade’ magazine. He is a Corporal in the Home Guard and is wearing his uniform and a duty gas mask as he works.
A view of the King Charles I statue in Whitehall, showing the precautions taken to protect it from damage by air raids. The statue itself has been covered in a timber frame, sandbagged and then covered in corrugated iron. Clearly visible is a sign which directs people to the public air raid shelter in Trafalgar Square.
A wide view of Piccadilly Circus, showing the statue of Eros shrouded in sandbags and boards. A National Savings poster can be seen on the outside of these boards (‘Hit Back with National Savings’). Further posters can be seen, including a large banner on the top of the Criterion Restaurant, just behind Eros, which reads ‘Buy Three Percent Savings Bonds’.
Members of the public sheltering in Aldwych tube station which was used as an air raid shelter.
An Anderson shelter remains intact amidst destruction and debris, after a land mine fell a few yards away. The three people that had been inside the shelter were not hurt. The effects of air raids in this area of London can be clearly seen behind the shelter. This photograph was taken on Latham Street in Poplar.
Firefighters putting out a blaze in London after an air raid during The Blitz in 1941.
This photograph shows a thick brick blast wall which was built in front of a Police Box, somewhere in London. The lower part of the wall has been painted with black and white stripes to make it clearly visible to pedestrians in the blackout.
A young girl plays with a hoop in the school playground to show that there are no ill effects following her inoculation against diphtheria, which took place the day before (7 May 1941) at Argyle Street School Clinic.
Two elderly civilians speak to an information officer in the rehousing and billeting department of the East Ham Information Bureau in order to apply for a new home following the destruction of their old home in an air raid.
Guy’s Hospital. This patient has been marked on the forehead with ‘M 1/4’ meaning that they have received a 1/4 grain of morphine before arrival at the hospital.
A view from the inside of Guy’s Hospital looking through broken glass-less windows into the courtyard of the hospital. This photograph illustrates the scale of the bomb damage received by Guy’s. Many parts of the hospital were unusable, but the day to day work of doctors and nurses continued.
A man buys a newspaper from a newspaper seller outside the Lyon’s Corner House on Coventry Street in London. A small white box with a cross can be seen on the pavement. This box covers a dim light which, in the blackout, warns pedestrians of an obstruction on the pavement, in the case the low sloping ‘shelf’ which is used to store and display the newspapers. In the background, other pedestrians, a bus stop and a car can be seen.
A Canadian soldier looks on as a woman and her children feed the pigeons in Trafalgar Square.
A teacher and her pupils, all wearing gas masks, enjoy a lesson in a basement at Greek Road School in South East London in 1941. The teacher points to the alphabet, which is chalked on the blackboard. Although many schools were evacuated during the war, many chose to stay and ‘make the best of it’, converting cellars and basements into makeshift classrooms.
A teacher leads a large group of children out of the entrance of Old Woolwich Road School in Greenwich, London. The children are crossing the playground in a line two abreast and all carry their gas masks. The school has clearly been damaged by air raids, as many windows have panes missing or smashed. There is also some damage to the brickwork.
School children line up in the playground during a gas mask drill at Old Woolwich Road School, Greenwich. The teacher is adjusting the strap on one of the children’s masks.
English: St Pancras railway station was hit by a bomb in May 1941 during the The Blitz.
This photograph shows the hooded headlamps of a Westminster stretcher party vehicle, somewhere in London. The hood fits over the headlamp and is completely solid, with the exception of three strips cut into it which allow light to filter through and illuminate the road immediately ahead of the vehicle.
Image copyright: public domain.
David A Clare
Fascinating stuff!! My father lived in Latham Street, Poplar and he told me many years ago that their house received a direct hit by a land mine in 1941. It could well be their house in the two photographs! He died in 1982 so I can’t establish any more details. I believe that the street doesn’t exist any more.