In Photos: Wartime London

By Londonist Staff Last edited 19 months ago
In Photos: Wartime London

London's a resilient city, having survived two world wars in the 20th century. Sadly, many Londoners lost their lives, and much of the city was destroyed by the incessant bombing of the Blitz. These photos and propaganda posters give an idea of what life was like for the average Londoner during the war.

The East End bombed in the Blitz - note the Tower of London in the background
Source The Ripper
Bombs became a normal part of life
Source Ww2today
West End book business basement shelter, Bloomsbury.
Source Flashbak
Damage near Trafalgar Square.
Source History
Interruptions of Big Ben and the clock, which was shut down for two years during the second world war.
Source Londonhistorian
Elephant and Castle Underground station shelter
Source Flashbak
Source Ephemeralnewyork
St Paul's Cathedral, 1940
Source Wikia
West End book business basement shelter, Bloomsbury.
Source Flashbak
Camden Town shelter
Source Derelictlondon
Source Pinterest
Women who worked in the factories testing the guns made in the second world war
Source History in Pictures
Bombs dropped in East Walworth
Source Bombsight
Bomb disposal squad
Source Flickriver
Through the smoke of burning London, St Paul's Cathedral Survives another night of The Blitz
Source Historical Pics
Stockwell shelter
Source Derelictlondon
Wartime fashion in London, 1940s
Source Old London
Shelterers knit and chat on their steel bunks in this North London air raid shelter
Source Flashbak
A boy points out his bedroom to his friends, after his home had been wrecked during a bombing raid in an eastern suburb of London, 1940
Source Historyphotographed
The wreckage of a bus, which was blasted against a house during the Blitz, 9 September 1940
Source Old Pics Archive
Source Freevintageposters
Source Lmelliott
Workers clear rubble from the lot where a home once stood, 1940.
Source Picslist
Elephant and Castle underground station shelter.
Source Flashbak
A wartime tube carriage with anti splinter window netting.
Source Old London
A boy sits amid the ruins of a London bookshop after an air raid,1940
Source Old Pics Archive
Sleeping in the tunnels of the Underground during the second world war
Source Bombsight
King George VI and the Queen Consort meeting air raid victims, 1941
Source Old London
Source Wikimedia
A shelter in a trusting East End wine merchant’s cellar.
Source Flashbak
Londoners seek shelter in Aldwych tube station, 1941
Source History in Pictures
Maths lesson in the Elephant & Castle Underground station during an air raid alert
Source Yesteryear
Not even the London Blitz could stop this young couple from stealing a snog
Source Military History Now
Shelterers sleep on the benches which line the wall of this London trench shelter
Source Flashbak
Londoner, still smiling, recovering his belongings from his bomb-damaged home during the Blitz
Source Old London
Source Pinterest
Source Wikispaces
Source Primaryhomeworkhelp
Piccadilly Circus, July 1941
Source Londonhistorian
Source Jesda
Waterloo Bridge's second world war women recognised for the first time
Source Bbc London News
London Underground station during The Blitz, 1940.
Source London Underground
Piccadilly tube station during an air raid
Source Charlesmccain
St Paul's during heavy attacks by the German Luftwaffe on 29 December 1940
Source Theatlantic
Clapham South shelter
Source Derelictlondon
A milkman walks over rubble while firefighters battle the aftermath of the Blitz
Source History Pics
West End book business basement shelter, Bloomsbury.
Source Flashbak
During the second world war, many stations were converted to air raid shelters. Some of these shelters, such as St. Mary's at Whitechapel, have been abandoned ever since, acting as time capsules. Aldwych was used by the British Museum to house its priceless collection and Down Street Station was used by Winston Churchill before the War Rooms were created. The platforms at Down Street were converted into offices, meeting rooms and dorms complete with fake windows. Source Gizmodo
Propaganda during the second world war
Source Wikipedia
Tower Bridge, 1941
Source Londonhistorian
Foyle's Library - wartime reading in London, 1940s
Source Bibliophilia
Members of the public enjoying a concert held by ENSA in the London underground.
Source Mic
Tube entrances were covered with makeshift shelters to stop the light attracting the attention of enemy bombers.
Source Londonhistorian
Surrey Dock was bombed out, 1940.
Source London Fire Brigade
Cramped quarters, but safer than being above ground
Source Mic
Bomb disposal squad
Source Io9
VE Day heroines: Celebrating the women of the second world war
Source Steve Clark
St George's Cathedral, Southwark, 1942
Source History London
Firefighters dealt with blazes caused by bombing on Queen Victoria Street
Source London Fire Brigade
A lone survivor - Buckea's bakers on the corner of Boswell St and Theobalds Road, Holborn, during the Blitz
Source Davenant
Wartime Covent Garden market, 1940
Source Londonhistorian
Source Hubpages
London Underground during the war
Source History in Pictures
St Paul's during the Blitz
Source Londoninsight
Poster recruiting female bus and tram workers, 1941
Source Retrographik
Womens' War Work exhibition, Prince's skating rink, Knightsbridge
Source Iwm
Churchill's secret bunker
Source Peter Uk
A waiter in wartime Soho, 1942
Source Discovering London
Blitz posters
Source Icollector
The ruins of the City of London from Southwark Bridge to Blackfriars - photo taken from St Paul's Cathedral in 1942
Source Davenant
A messenger boy walking past the entrance to the National Gallery in Trafalgar Square.
Source Pinterest
Elephant and Castle underground station shelter with train
Source Flashbak
First world war propaganda
Source Pinterest
Clapham Tram Depot following an air raid
Source Old London
A winter's view of London, still full of ruins from 1942's vicious Blitz
Source Ww2 Tweets From 1940
Clapham South bomb shelter
Source Femsta
Spotter, watching out for German air raids, during a Charlton Athletic vs Arsenal match at The Valley, 1940
Source History Pics
Source Pinterest
Clapham South deep level air raid shelters were built during The Blitz. Located 11 floors (or 180 steps) down, these shelters continued to be used as a hotel and migrant accommodation until the 1950s
Source Mandytjie
Bomb damage at St Pancras railway station, May 1941
Source Davenant
The Spitfire Boys, Brixton, 1941
Source Old London
September 1940
Source Imperial War Museums
Defiant signs at Wally's barber shop on St Martin Street, after losing its windows during the Blitz
Source Vintage Photos
A mother and her baby during an exercise with gas masks
Source Laura
Source Pinterest
Clapham South shelter
Source Derelictlondon
Mrs Edith Hill manoeuvres a forklift trolley in a depot where railway seats are overhauled and repaired, London, 1942
Source Iwm
Children in the East End, made homeless by the Blitz, 1940
Source Lost in History
Bomb disposal.
Source Pinterest
Source Hpage
Goodge Street deep-level shelter and dormitory
Source Londonist
Londoners asleep on the platform & tracks of Aldwych station
Source Mic
10 May 1941 saw the last major raid during the London Blitz, dubbed 'the longest night'. There was damage to many important buildings including the Houses of Parliament, seen here
Source Londonhistorian
Belsize Park shelter
Source Derelictlondon
A bomb penetrated the road and exploded in Balham Underground station, killing 68 people
Source Londonhistorian
Source Primaryhomeworkhelp
A market brings colour to the Blitz.
Source Iliketowastemytime
Poster encouraging female railway workers, 1941
Source Pinterest
A woman drinking tea in the aftermath of a German bombing raid during the Blitz
Source History in Pictures
A view of Tower Bridge standing strong during The Blitz
Source Londonhistorian
South Clapham shelter
Source Derelictlondon
Elephant & Castle, 1940
Source Old London
Blitz ghosts, 1940.
Source Nick Stone
Elephant and Castle underground station shelter close up.
Source Flashbak
Two children sleep on a bench in a trench
Source Flashbak
Source Defensemedianetwork
Queen's Hall in Langham Place during the Blitz
Source Londonhistorian
Women of the Women's Voluntary Service run a mobile canteen
Source Classic Movies
Women’s Army Auxiliary Corps
Source Stars and Stripes
Aderelict prefab in Catford. These were built all over UK as emergency housing following the second world war.
Source Derelictlondon
Stockwell shelter
Source Derelictlondon
Tanks rolling through streets near Covent Garden, 1918
Source Royaloperahouse
Shoreditch, 1915
Source Londonhistorian
There is a memorial to a Nazi dog in London. You can see the grave of Giro, the German ambassador’s dog, who was “accidentally electrocuted” in 1934 at the top of the steps by the Duke of York monument off Pall Mall, which is where the German Embassy stood until the breakout of the second world war. Source Buzzfeed
ATS girls operate a mobile power plant on an anti-aircraft gun site at night.
Source Colchester Wi Gs
Goodge Street deep level shelter on Tottenham Court Road
Source Derelictlondon
Aldwych, used as an air raid shelter, October 1940
Source Pinterest
Traffic moving slowly on an icy Queen Victoria Street. A light dusting of snow softens the bomb damage.
Source Davenant

Last Updated 11 May 2017