Noel Coward sings through the blitz

The Fire Brigade was organised by the Local Authorities until August 1941, when the National Fire Service was created.

The worst single loss of life in the history of the Fire Brigade occurred during the night of the 19th when 34 firemen were killed at the Old Place School in Poplar, East London. For more details see Open Plaques..

The raid on the 19th April was mainly centred on the docklands, although bombs fell across London and the south east of England. ‘Only’ 449 people were estimated to be killed in London during the raid of the 19th/20th April as compared with 1,179 for the very heavy raid of 16th/17th. For many people it was time to embrace life to the full and disregard the bombs. The West End was as popular as ever, even after the Cafe de Paris disaster. Noel Coward, the actor, entertainer and film director was also employed by the Secret Intelligence service, for whom he had recently toured the United States. He was glad to be back in England:

19th April

Had a few drinks, then went to the Savoy. Pretty bad blitz, but not so bad as Wednesday, a couple of bombs fell very near during dinner. Orchestra went on playing, no one stopped eating or talking. Blitz continued. Carroll Gibbons played the piano, I sang, so did Judy Campbell and a couple of drunken Scots Canadians.

On the whole, a strange and very amusing evening. People’s behaviour absolutely magnificent. Much better than gallant. Wish the whole of America could really see and understand it. Thankful to God I came back. Would not have missed this experience for anything.

See The Noel Coward Diaries

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Earlier in the war:

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