The World

Blitz damage on Paradise Street 1941
The Blitz was a sustained campaign of attacks on British towns and cities carried out by the Luftwaffe from September 1940 until May 1941. Liverpool and its surrounding areas was one of the most heavily bombed cities outside of London.

The impact of the Liverpool blitz was devastating. Thousands of people were killed and buildings that had stood for centuries were demolished. But somehow, communities carried on and did everything they could to help with the war effort.

In May 1941, Winston Churchill said after visiting Liverpool and the surrounding area:

"I see the damage done by the enemy attacks, but I also see ... the spirit of an unconquered people.”

A painting showing ships leaving the docks by D Cobb, 1989 

Shoppers wait patiently in a queue 
Cities with ports such as Liverpool were targeted in the blitz because ports were vital to maintain access to major shipping routes across the North Atlantic.

The Liverpool docks were the largest port on the west coast of the United Kingdom, and were of incalculable importance to the British war effort. This is because goods from the United States and Canada were imported to Liverpool, and without the constant supply of these goods, Britain could not have endured the War.

It was therefore hugely respected to be in the Merchant Navy, but it was also a very dangerous undertaking to get supplies into mainland Britain. The ships, and the naval port were relentlessly targeted during the blitz, and many lives were lost in service.

Communities were asked to make extra effort and work harder on the home front during the war.

Children went on salvage missions to collect left over scrap metal, everyone was subject to food rationing and people were encouraged to grow their own food to help counteract food shortages.

With rationing, and general food shortages also came a demand for goods on the black market. Luxury items such as stockings were very had to come by, and some people chose to source items such as these illegally.

With so many men away in the Forces, millions of women worked in factories, on buses and trains, and in hospitals and schools.
Thousands of women also joined the Women's Land Army to work on farms, and many took work in munitions factories to keep the British armed services in good supply.

Life at home could be quite unexciting during the war – with long queues for food rations and strict curfews in place so the wireless and the cinema were wonderful ways to learn about the outside world, and to keep up to date with the latest cultural trends.

One of the most famous voices on the wireless at this time was Dame Vera Lynn, whose emotive songs still resonate with people today.

Here is a typical song of the time that could be heard on the wireless called, There'll Be Bluebirds Over The White Cliffs of Dover

Before the main feature film was shown at the cinema, a newsreel would typically be shown to update the audience on the war effort.

This is the newsreel that Joan sees during her trip to the cinema, showing King George VI and Queen Elizabeth inspecting bomb damage in the East End of London: 

Cover artwork © 2015 Giordano Poloni, from an original sketch by Shirley Hughes. Website text © 2052 Shirley Hughes and Walker Books. All rights reserved. Walker Books Limited, 87 Vauxhall Walk, London SE11 5HJ. Registered in England under Company No .1378601