Time to relax as bombers are heard overhead

A sailor, transport workers and several civilians examine an exhibit at the large-scale Army exhibition held on the bombed site of the John Lewis department store on London's Oxford Street. The photograph is dominated by the large banner advertising the exhibition, which can be clearly seen above their heads.

A sailor, transport workers and several civilians examine an exhibit at the large-scale Army exhibition held on the bombed site of the John Lewis department store on London’s Oxford Street. The photograph is dominated by the large banner advertising the exhibition, which can be clearly seen above their heads.

Men and women examine an exhibit entitled 'To beat the dive bomber' at the large-scale Army exhibition held on the bombed site of the John Lewis department store on London's Oxford Street. The exhibit appears to consist of two Bren guns labelled as 'Manning Twin AA'.

Men and women examine an exhibit entitled ‘To beat the dive bomber’ at the large-scale Army exhibition held on the bombed site of the John Lewis department store on London’s Oxford Street. The exhibit appears to consist of two Bren guns labelled as ‘Manning Twin AA’.

Entertainment And Relaxation In Wartime London, England, 1943 After an afternoon in Hyde Park, Private Christopher Murray, Aircraftman Jimmy Clark, (both hidden behind their companions), Peggy Franks, and Pinkie Barnes enter the Regal Cinema and Ballroom at Marble Arch, London. The film they are about to see is 'Watch on the Rhine', starring Bette Davis, Paul Lukas and Geraldine Fitzgerald.

Entertainment And Relaxation In Wartime London, England, 1943
After an afternoon in Hyde Park, Private Christopher Murray, Aircraftman Jimmy Clark, (both hidden behind their companions), Peggy Franks, and Pinkie Barnes enter the Regal Cinema and Ballroom at Marble Arch, London. The film they are about to see is ‘Watch on the Rhine’, starring Bette Davis, Paul Lukas and Geraldine Fitzgerald.

Firemen of the NFS hard at work on war industry in their fire station, somewhere in London. The men are assembling air lines for military vehicles as their fire engine stands ready in the background. In the foreground is Fireman Leonard George Croxson, who is working a cleating press. Before the war he was a mosaic and tile fixer. He has a bandaged arm as he has just given blood at the local blood bank.

Firemen of the NFS hard at work on war industry in their fire station, somewhere in London. The men are assembling air lines for military vehicles as their fire engine stands ready in the background. In the foreground is Fireman Leonard George Croxson, who is working a cleating press. Before the war he was a mosaic and tile fixer. He has a bandaged arm as he has just given blood at the local blood bank.

In London, as in the rest of Britain, there had been much ‘war weariness’. For a long time there had been no end in sight to a war that was now approaching its fourth anniversary. There was still no sign of the much anticipated “Second Front”, which many people regarded as an essential development to support the Russians. Although London was rarely bombed now, the threat had not entirely gone away. The bomb sites from the Blitz remained as a constant reminder of the ever present war, as did the presence of so many uniforms on the street.

The gloom of constant war that been so hard to bear during the winter now began to lift. Evidence that there had been a genuine shift in fortunes for the Allies now seemed more certain. Vere Hodgson had kept her diary throughout the worst of the London Blitz. Her attitude to the bombing of Germany was very much influenced by that experience, although she, like so many other people were not aware of the scale of the devastation and the horror that Germans were experiencing:

Sunday, 15th

Generally speaking the tide is still running in favour of the United Nations. At last! To open the paper and find constant good news . . . well, we are just not accustomed to it.

As I lay in bed the other night I heard the Deep Purr of our bombers winging their way to Hamburg…

This is a comfortable feeling. I turned lazily in bed and glowed at the thought, going back in my mind to those awful months when to hear that noise overhead was to know the Germans were going to pour death and destruction on us. It meant in those days a readjustment of the mind to the fact that this might be one’s last night on earth — or that by the morning one might be homeless and possessionless.

One cannot help feeling it is good for the Germans to know what it feels like. Perhaps they won’t put the machine in motion again so light-heartedly. Several nights this week an Armada of the Sky has passed over us.

I have recorded that we were forbidden to gather the mulberries in the garden next door.

Our caretaker is an Irishman. There is now an Irish policeman on duty round here. These two have met, and discovered they come from adjoining villages in Tipperary. They talked for hours in the drive – both losing account of time.

The upshot of this was that our caretaker took a ladder and gathered masses of mulberries! His wife does not like them, so they were all brought to me. Auntie Nell made them into jam with my sugar.

Each of us had a pot including caretaker and policeman!

It is wonderful to walk about at the Marble Arch. Very little traffic at any time, and less on Sunday. So we see each other plainly. Everyone strolling in and out of the Park. I wish I knew one quarter of the uniforms. Fascinating to see all these men who have come from every part of the world to help us.

One evening saw an armada of bombers going forth on the night’s work. They go so bravely forth, but one knows they will not all come back. It is a fine sight, and gives us a feeling of strength.

See Vere Hodgson: Few Eggs and No Oranges

War Fair: Holidays At Home - At a Fete In Russell Square, London, 1943 A member of the Red Cross supervises as a young boy attempts to drive a nail into Hitler's coffin at the Russell Square fete. According to the original caption, the aim was to get the nail in within three swipes, although young children were given a head start!

War Fair: Holidays At Home – At a Fete In Russell Square, London, 1943
A member of the Red Cross supervises as a young boy attempts to drive a nail into Hitler’s coffin at the Russell Square fete. According to the original caption, the aim was to get the nail in within three swipes, although young children were given a head start!

A group of three men, one a civilian, one from a Scottish Regiment and a third from the Royal Air Force, stand with their backs to the camera as they watch the festivities taking place at the Russell Square fete. The RAF man is on crutches.

A group of three men, one a civilian, one from a Scottish Regiment and a third from the Royal Air Force, stand with their backs to the camera as they watch the festivities taking place at the Russell Square fete. The RAF man is on crutches.

Lilian Carpenter (left) and Vera Perkins eat their packed lunch on the back of their horse-drawn LMS Railway Company van. The area behind them has been badly damaged in an air raid.

Lilian Carpenter (left) and Vera Perkins eat their packed lunch on the back of their horse-drawn LMS Railway Company van. The area behind them has been badly damaged in an air raid.

Leave a Comment

Earlier in the war:

Later in the war: