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London at War 1939-45

London was a city on the front line in the Second World War. It suffered hits from nearly 19,000 tons of bombs, with nearly 30,000 civilians killed by enemy action. The Blitz changed the landscape of the city. Many famous landmarks were hit, including Buckingham Palace, the Houses of Parliament and the Tower of London. Areas such as Stepney were so badly damaged that they had to be almost entirely rebuilt after the war.

But it wasn’t just the city’s physical landscape that was transformed by the conflict. Londoners’ lives were conditioned by the circumstances and everyday details of war, from rationing to the blackout, from evacuation to sheltering in the Underground. The arrival of large numbers of Commonwealth and overseas service personnel also changed society and London became much more cosmopolitan as a result, while divisions between the upper and lower classes came sharply into focus.

This book tells the story of these momentous years in London’s history through IWM’s unique collections. From the famous ‘Blitz Spirit’ to the horror of the V2s, using first-hand accounts and rarely published images it gives an up-close and revealing insight into those turbulent years in the capital, experienced by those who were there.

Hardback, 216 pages

Alan Jeffreys is Senior Curator at Imperial War Museums.

London at War 1939-45
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