If you enjoy sitting on Grandad’s knee listening to tales of the war, then pull up a pew for 68 minutes, watch this rerelease of Harry Booth’s classic British documentary Blitz on Britain (1960), and prepare to be uplifted, surprised and informed about the Nazi “Blitzkrieg” that near-levelled entire towns and cities, yet at the same time brought a whole nation together during the Second World War.
The absolute pride and determination demonstrated by the British people -and documented within Blitz on Britain – is truly inspiring. Their homes and places of work had been literally obliterated, yet they went about their business the next morning, finding alternative ways to adjust to their now-hazardous daily routines. People quickly realised that the London Underground represented a safe-haven where they could more effectively protect themselves from the nightly bombings. Once the idea caught on, many citizens would sleep within the Underground system, with bars and nightly entertainment hastily installed in order to entertain the masses. Throughout, the people of Britain are shown as being almost permanently on-guard. In one scene, a couple stroll along a beach in their 1940s swim suit attire, complete with socks and sandals yet also sporting protective tin helmets.
Blitz on Britain is superbly narrated by the late Alistair Cooke, offering an informative yet inspiring tone to proceedings. In a truly British show of defiance in the face of adversity, humour is injected into the people’s day to day lives; at one point the camera shows a montage of hand written signs found around the city with gleaming citizens next to them, happy and proud to have survived the night. One such sign in a shop window simply reads “J. Winkle – Window Cleaner. Business as usual. If you’ve got no windows, will clean chimneys”.