Sourcework - The impression that the British faced the Blitz with courage and unity is a myth.

Authors Avatar

Ben Purchase        Centre No.        Candidate No.

History Coursework-Assignment Two

During the Second World War, Civilians were involved as well as soldiers. As part of the conflict Britain and Germany bombed each other’s major cities. People in both countries had to cope with the effects of these air raids. In Britain the bombing of the cities was known as the Blitz.

Some people write about the Blitz as a time when the British people shoed great cheerfulness and courage. They say their morale (their spirit and attitude was good. Other writers believe that much of what was said and written about the high morale of the British is myth (a false impression) rather than truth.

This assignment presents you with sources during the Blitz and afterwards and gives you the opportunity to decide for yourself.

1. Study Source A

What Can You Learn from Source A about the response of the British people to the effects of the Blitz?

 Source A, is an extract from the book “Waiting for the All Clear” which was a book published in 1990 to celebrate the fiftieth anniversary of the Blitz. This extract comes from the publisher’s description of the books contents inside the front cover.


This particular extract from the book is written in a positive tone as it’s celebrating the fiftieth anniversary of the Blitz. Words describing the people such as: “heroes”, “courage”, “unshakeable”, “determination”, all contribute into the reader learning that British people at the time did all the work in good humour. However although this source is written to celebrate the Blitz fiftieth anniversary therefore it being written in a positive tone, the book doesn’t actually deny that life for British people was hard during the Blitz as it states “Those at home in the most appalling circumstances kept their sense of humour. Their memories will break your heart and make you smile”. As this quote states, although people who lived through the Blitz were held in appalling conditions, the source also says that the people carried out their lives in good humour and all pulled together to fight the war. The source also praises them for being patriotic as it states “the British people showed that they didn’t have to be in uniform to be heroes”. This source is biased as it is a one sided view on the British people’s response to the Blitz and because it’s written in a positive tone many years after the Blitz when negative feelings would have passed.  

2. Study sources B, C

How useful are sources B and C in helping you to understand the effects of the Blitz on people in Britain?

During the Blitz severe effects took place on buildings and also peoples morale.

Source B is a photograph taken on the 21st January 1943. The picture shows an air raid on London at Catford Girls School. Catford is actually in South East London and this particular part of London had suffered greatly from the effects of the Blitz. This was because the German bombers had been instructed to bomb here because of the docks such as Greenwich Pier and East India dock where many goods were incoming and outgoing. The source is also described as being dated in late January 1943 which is towards the end of the Blitz. Because this source was censored by the government, the source is more likely to be less biased. This is because of the fact that the Government didn’t want any negative images that had anything to do with war in the media as they were afraid it would affect morale. This source is useful in helping me to understand people’s reactions to the Blitz as it shows an unbiased photograph of the Blitz. The photograph shows rubble and bodies of schoolgirls. The photograph shows ARP wardens putting the bodies in sacks therefore portraying in the picture a determination that shows that even under hard circumstances, the people that lived in Britain did their job. I therefore believe that this source is useful as it in a way portrays the ARP wardens as being heroic even though the photograph is outlined as being gruesome.

Source C is also a photograph although it’s taken on the 15th September 1940 (early Blitz). The caption for this photograph states “During raids on London last night some North London houses were bombed. Their houses are wrecked but the tenants of the building still showed the “British grit” ”. The picture shows a large group of people crowded together and smiling towards the camera with their furniture in the background. The photograph was also published including its caption therefore the purpose of the photograph was to show people that despite the fact that the people in the photograph had just had the houses bombed, they still showed courage and determination. However, because of the fact that Government censors banned negative war pictures, the photograph is biased in showing a different and positive image on how people reacted with the Blitz as the government censored photographs in an attempt to increase morale. To make sure that the press didn’t publish any negative photographs, they made it law that the editor of a newspaper will be hung if they published any negative war pictures. This source is useful in helping me to understand people’s reactions to the Blitz. It portrays an image that people who endured the Blitz still kept a sense of humour although I don’t believe that the source is really very reliable as the people are posing therefore hiding their true feelings. The photograph also purposely fails to show what the people’s houses looked like after being bombed. The reason for this being that the government didn’t want any negative images in the media.

Join now!

Source B is more useful in allowing me to understand the effects of the Blitz on people in Britain. The reason for this is because source B shows an unbiased and reliable photograph on people who suffered the Blitz. The photograph in B shows ARP wardens looking depressed at doing the job of cleaning up the bodies of dead school girls. I therefore believe that unlike what the newspapers portray of determined and courageous society as in Source C, people were actually very depressed by the effects of the Blitz.

3. Study sources B, C and D.

Does ...

This is a preview of the whole essay