70 years after Sir Winston Churchill launched his ‘V for Victory’ campaign in July 1941 a remarkable collection of colour photographs depicting London at the time of the blitz has gone online, bringing those dark days vividly to life.
Images of the Blitz are usually grainy, and in black and white, but this new collection uses the original colour to powerfully re-capture the full horror of the destruction caused by the Luftwaffe in London. The photographs were all taken for the US magazines Time and Life and the gallery is available to view at Life.com
Churchill’s ‘V for Victory’ campaign was dubbed in the New York Times as ‘nerve war’ against Germany. Its purpose, the paper said, was to undermine German morale and solidify anti-Nazi sentiment among the various countries conquered by Hitler.
The sign was rapidly taken up by other European leaders and resistance movements all over Europe, where people were encouraged to display the letter V at every opportunity, some even daubing it on walls, factories and houses across the continent.
Churchill launched his campaign after Hitler’s air force began its tactic of sustained bombardment of Britain’s major cities. Unsurprisingly, London was the principal target and the city endured a torrid time between September 1940 and May 1941, including 76 nights of continuous attacks which destroyed more than 1 million homes, while across Britain some 40,000 people lost their lives.
But even eight months of ceaseless pounding could not break the spirit of the British people and industrial production and the overall war effort remained strong through it all.
This new gallery of extraordinary photographs depict a people determined now to be cowed into submission but to press on with their daily lives in spite of the destruction being wreaked all around them. One picture shows a man calmly reading his book on a park bench while a barrage balloon hovers in the background.
If Sir Winston showed an iron will to win through to victory in the end, these pictures clearly demonstrate how that will was translated to the ordinary man and woman in the street. It serves as an inspiring testimony to the spirit of Britain and its people at the time of their greatest trial.
You can enjoy having your own inspirational image of Sir Winston giving his V sign in a number of ways by visiting WinstonChurchillShop.com. There is a fine resin/bronze figure, standing at just over one foot tall, or a limited edition intaglio print by curtis Hooper. Additionally, our evocative 1941 minted sets of coins entitled The London Blitz are a powerful reminder of Britain's wartime currency.