Note to Likeminded Readers
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While my parents experienced rationing and lived in a town that manufactured tanks, I find it hard to comprehend war occuring in one's own backyard - especially as this current "war on terrorism" asks for no sacrifice to the cause.
Perhaps I was at an impressionable age when Danger UXB appeared, but I'm finding The Light Years and similar books to be my constant companions and am gobbling up Mass-Obs wherever I can find them.
One of the best accounts I've read of the famous December 29, 1940 raid on London is called The London Blitz, by David Johnson. Definitely worth reading (though it was published in the 1980s - I don't know if it's still available).
And I think the best fictional account of London during the Blitz - at least from what I've read - was in Anthony Powell's Dance to the Music of Time series. The war is covered in the third trilogy of the series.
>1 meerka: I was able to borrow the Danger UXB PBS series from the library, and though it was very good. Is it based on a book?
Edited to correct spelling. Shame on me :)
Non-fiction books which I find in my catalogue include Britain's Railways at War 1939-1945 by O S Nock, A Land Girl's War by Joan Snelling, and The Battle of Britain: Dowding and the First Victory, 1940 by John Ray, as well as more general histories of the war.
Spike Milligan includes some Home Front insights in his autobiographical series which begins with Adolf Hitler: My Part in His Downfall.
The only fiction I have which is specifically about the Blitz is The Fire Fighter by Francis Cottam, but books by David Fiddimore include a lot of Home Front settings, as do many war novels.
And if one is allowed to mention a TV series, Dad's Army is essential viewing. I'm just re-watching them all on DVD and I've reached the fifth series. There are many episodes that I hadn't seen since they were first aired in the 1960s and '70s.
It's an interesting story because, although she obviously experienced many war related hardships (including the death of her fiancee), her life actually improved in many ways during the war years.
6janiswatson Primer Mensaje
Mass-Obs also has downloadable PDFs that I took advantage of. In many cases it's reproduced in the original handwriting which makes it a very personal experience.
I suppose I should really try to get my parents to talk more about their hometown during the war. One side of the family had been in The Colonies since prior to the American Revolution, the other, 1800s German immigrants. Surprisingly, my mother remembers no hostility about being German, but the name was unofficially changed to Smith!
Not quite. Mass Observation (Mass-Obs) was a sort-of anthropological project which recruited people to observe and record all sorts of aspects of daily life in Britain, starting in 1937 and going right through the war, the sorts of ephemeral experiences and attitudes of ordinary people which otherwise might not be recorded. So they might examine children's games in one area of London, or the daily routine of housewives in Newcastle, or what people thought about the war in Cornwall (I'm just making this examples up). So it's not quite first-hand accounts in the sense of contemporary diaries (though these did form part of the Mass-Obs method) or later oral history interviews, but an attempt at a "scientific" overview of British life.
Of particular interest here is that, not only did Mass-Obs operate throughout the war, but they were also employed by the Ministry of Information (or was it Home Security? I'm away from my books) as an independent consulting group, and in this capacity sent teams into many of the blitzed suburbs or towns, usually by the day after. So it's an invaluable record of life during the Blitz, and the book mentioned above by Tom Harrisson (one of the co-founders of Mass-Obs), Living through the Blitz, draws on the archives and Harrisson's own experiences. The Mass Observation homepage is at http://www.massobs.org.uk/
BTW, I'm doing a PhD which deals with the Blitz in a small way (I'm more concerned with anticipations of the Blitz). John Ray's The Night Blitz is a good overview; and Angus Calder's The Myth of the Blitz is great if you want a book which doesn't take the standard narrative of 1940 for granted.
(I don't remember how to insert links!)