Morale remains high under fire

Anti aircraft guns in London during the Blitz

The almost incredible bravery of the people, their fortitude and endurance, and in especial the stoic calm of those who have lost their homes and possessions, beggars description. London and the provinces share equal honours in this last respect, and all writers are touchingly grateful for the kindness shown to them.

“Now the windows are all boarded up and tarpaulin put on the roof it does not seem so bad ….. The people around here have all been so kind. So many offered us a home… We did not know we had such wonderful friends.”




British ‘take the bombing in good heart’

At the beginning of the war Air Raid Wardens were often seen as unnecessarily officious and interfering. Attitudes changed as the bombing became more intense and there were eventually nearly 1.4 million voluntary unpaid wardens.

An increasingly fatalistic attitude towards the effect of bombing is reported, and this appears to be coupled with a high state of morale. In the East End the searchlights rather than the sirens are now taken as a sign for going to the shelters. Cooperation and friendliness in public shelters are reported to be increasing …




Churchill visits ‘Hell-Fire Corner’

Winston Churchill viewing activity in the Channel from an observation post at Dover Castle during his tour of defences, 28 August 1940. Enemy air attacks were in progress at the time, and two German bombers were seen to crash into the sea.

Later that afternoon, we had to drive to Ramsgate and on the way we saw a smoldering aircraft in a field, and Churchill asked the driver to pull off the road and get as close to the wreckage as he could. There was firemen, soldiers and ARP men standing around and I walked with the Prime Minister towards the aircraft. Even though I warned Mr Churchill about the dangers of being out in the open during an air raid, he said that he must have a look, and when he saw the tangled mess he said ‘Dear God, I hope it isn’t a British plane.’ He was reassured that it was not.




British morale reported to be ‘excellent’

Mrs Cross, a sailor's wife, waves goodbye to her neighbours as she drives away from her bombed-out home in the back of a removal truck. Her friend, also sitting in the truck, holds aloft a Union flag.

Reports from all areas show morale to be excellent. Recent air-raid alarms proved that confidence has greatly increased since the beginning of the war and people showing more neighbourliness towards each other. Citizens’ Advice Bureaux and similar offices which were besieged by anxious people after first alarms in September were practically empty after last week’s raids. Many people did not take shelter when the siren went; even men in uniform in Kensington Gardens took no notice and civilians are inclined to follow their example. Confusion still exists as to what people should do when siren goes; some employers grudge wasting time and don’t encourage their staff to take shelter.




"Never in the field of human conflict …"

Battle of Britain poster with Churchill's 'the few'

“we must never forget that all the time, night after night, month after month, our bomber squadrons travel far into Germany, find their targets in the darkness by the highest navigational skill, aim their attacks, often under the heaviest fire, often with serious loss, with deliberate careful discrimination, and inflict shattering blows upon the whole of the technical and war-making structure of the Nazi power.”




Royal Navy evacuates British Somaliland

The italian Flag flies over the former British Governor's bomb damaged residence.

The British completed their evacuation of British Somaliland on 19th August 1940, following the invasion on 3rd August and the Battle of the Tug Argan Gap. There were some 250 British forces casualties and over 2,000 on the Italian side. It was the only campaign during the Second World war that the Italian fascist regime successfully concluded without the assistance of German armed forces.




Churchill’s ‘Defence Against Invasion’ memo

Armoured cars and tanks from Britain's mobile defence on exercise 'somewhere in Britain' during 1940. The unit insignia have been covered by the censor.

The defence of any part of the coast must be measured not by the forces on the coast, but by the number of hours within which strong counter-attacks by mobile troops can be brought to bear upon the landing places. Such attacks should be hurled with the utmost speed and fury upon the enemy at his weakest moment, which is not, as is sometimes suggested, when actually getting out of his boats, but when sprawled upon the shore with his communications cut and his supplies running short.




British fighter production re-assures Churchill

Winston Churchill inspecting 9.2-inch guns of 57th Heavy Regiment, Royal Artillery, during a tour of East Coast defences, 7 August 1940.

He sent Prof. and me for some of his cherished graphs and diagrams and began to expound the supply position. Beaverbrook, he said, had genius and, what was more, brutal ruthlessness. He had never in his life, at the Ministry of Munitions or anywhere else, seen such startling results as Beaverbrook had produced; and Pownall, looking at the Aircraft Production charts, agreed that there had never been such an achievement.




Mountbatten meets the US Chiefs and Churchill

Supreme Allied Commander South East Asia: Mountbatten conferrring with Lieutenant General J W Stilwell Commander-in-Chief US Forces in China, Burma and India.

The Prime Minister has never been so friendly to me in his life. He kept on telling me what a good job I had done, and how I had vindicated his judgement when he selected me for the job. He said: ‘When the war is over I am going to arrange a great ovation for you and for your battle-green jungle warriors. When we get back to London come and see me and we will talk about your future, as I have great plans in store.’ It was a mournful and eerie feeling to sit there talking plans with a man who seemed so confident that they would come off, and I felt equally confident that he would be out of office within 24 hours.




Churchill entertains Truman and Stalin in Berlin

Winston Churchill, President Truman and Stalin at the Potsdam conference, 23 July 1945.

To lighten the proceedings we changed places from time to time, and the President sat opposite me. I had another very friendly talk with Stalin, who was in the best of tempers and seemed to have no inkling of the momentous information about the new bomb the President had given me. He spoke with enthusiasm about the Russian intervention against Japan, and seemed to expect a good many months of war, which Russia would wage on an ever—increasing scale, governed only by the Trans-Siberian Railway.