The Blitz of 1940: Germany’s Attacks on London

Don Brown
Don Brown
Dir, London Society

Don Brown is a London Blue Badge Guide, the Director of the London Society, and a graduate of Oxford University. He is an astute student of history from the Romans to the present day, as well as politics, WWII, and classic rock music. As Director of the London Society, he has a strong interest in architecture, planning, and urbanism.



September 7, 2022, 4:00 pm

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“As I write, highly civilized human beings are flying overhead, trying to kill me.”

— George Orwell in 1941


Between September 1940 and May 1941, London was bombed nearly every night, with tens of thousands killed or wounded, and millions of homes destroyed or damaged. Night after night, the population of the world’s biggest city was forced into shelters, basements and tube stations as the Luftwaffe tried to destroy the city and the morale of its people.

In this talk, Don Brown will look at the history of the Blitz, its effect upon the capital’s population and its buildings, and how defenses and air raid responses were organized. We will also examine the other major raids across the UK and the ‘V’ weapon onslaught that hit London in the last year of the war. It’s a story of fear, survival, and heroism, but there is so much more to it than the popular image of cheerful cockneys “keeping calm and carrying on.”


Recommended Reading:

The Blitz: The British Under Attack, by Juliet Gardner

The Secret History of the Blitz, by Joshua Levine

The Battle of London 1939-45: Endurance, Heroism and Frailty Under Fire, by Jerry White

The Splendid and the Vile: A Saga of Churchill, Family and Defiance During the Blitz, by Erik Larson

Web links from the Imperial War Museum:

I also recommend John Boorman’s 1987 film, Hope and Glory


Discussion Questions:

  1. Could London ever have been bombed into submission?
  2. How much of the ‘Blitz spirit’ was a myth, and how much was for real?
  3. Was the Allied bombing of German cities a war crime?





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