Blitz spirit in spotlight for 70th anniversary show

Fri Sep 17, 2010 11:18am EDT
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By Venetia Rainey

LONDON (Reuters Life!) - Blasted buildings, mangled buses and Nazi bombs from the sky form the basis of a new London exhibition to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the Blitz.

A number of London museums are commemorating the spirit of Londoners who endured the World War Two bombing of the British capital by the German Luftwaffe, battling the resulting blazes, rescuing people trapped in their bombed out homes and huddling in underground shelters from Hitler's bombers.

Mayor of London Boris Johnson marked this year's anniversary by attending the opening of one of the most important exhibitions, London Transport Museum's "Under Attack: London, Coventry and Dresden."

From the volunteer bus drivers trying to navigate pot-holed roads during blackouts, to the women handing out food and blankets to those sheltering in tube stations, the exhibition tells the stories of the people who carried on during London's darkest hours, the destruction rained down on Coventry and the Allied bombing of the German city of Dresden. It includes film footage, photos, and eyewitness accounts.

"We must never forget the bravery and dogged determination of the men and women who battled to keep London moving in the face of a terrifying and unremitting bombardment which sought to destroy our great city during the Blitz," Johnson told Reuters in a written statement. "This tremendous spirit and resilience remain at the very heart of the capital."

Tucked amongst the London Transport Museum's permanent exhibitions about the humble beginnings of the city's famous transport system is a room of photographs, film clips, and eyewitness accounts of the aerial assault.

One film clip shows Music Hall performers Elsie and Doris Waters as their popular cockney alter egos, Gert and Daisy, dancing in an underground shelter.

Part of one wall is dedicated to the destruction wrought on the main churches of the three cities being examined, London's St. Paul's Cathedral, Coventry's St. Michael's, and the Frauenkirche in the German city of Dresden, which was bombed by Allied forces. Only St. Paul's managed to survive the bombings.   Continued...