Book Review
The Blitz
The Blitz – An Illustrated History
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by: Frederick Boucher [ JPTRR ]

The Blitz – An Illustrated History
Author: Gavin Mortimer
Illustrator: The Mirror Group
196 pages
ISBN: 9781849084246

About this book
The winter of 1940–41 was the season of the Blitz. From St Paul’s Cathedral to the East End, from the very heart of the capital to the cities of the midlands, throughout the length and breadth of the land the bombs rained down as Germany attempted to bludgeon Britain into submission. As the civilian populations below cowered in their shelters or manned the fire services there could be no doubt that this was an island under siege. Drawing exclusively on the photo archive of the Mirror newspaper group this volume brings to life this extraordinary period in British history. Remarkably a number of these images have never seen the light of day before thanks to wartime censors and now 70 years after the fact they reveal for the first time the harsh realities of life and death during the Blitz. Written by Gavin Mortimer, who has previously published The Longest Night: Voices from the London Blitz (Orion 2005), this book weaves together these incredible images with newspaper articles, diary entries and first-hand accounts to create a compelling chronological account of Britain’s darkest and most difficult period in her long history.[1]

This large format book covers the trials of England during Nazi Germany's bombardment by air, by Buzz Bomb, and by ballistic missile. Author Gavin Mortimer previous work on The Blitz is reinforced by this work. Mr. Gavin brings the epic to us in nine chapters, plus notes, appendixes, and supporting works:

• Introduction The Calm Before The Storm: September 1939 To September 1940
Chapter one Hell From On High: September 1940
Chapter two London Can Take It! Autumn 1940
Chapter three Business As Usual: November 1940 In London
Chapter four Coventrated: The Devastation Of Coventry, 14 November 1940
Chapter five The Second Great Fire Of London: 29 November 1940
Chapter six Britain Gets Blitzed: January To April 1941
Chapter seven No Mercy For Merseyside: May 1941
Chapter eight Hellfire: 10 May 1941
Chapter nine V Is For Vengeance: 1944 and 1945
• Conclusion
• Notes
• Further Reading
• Appendices
• Index

The Blitz features a great collection of photographs and some illustrations from the war. Although I have seen many of these over the past 40 years, the vast majority are new to me. The qualities of these photographs are generally excellent. Only a coupe seems to be reproductions of newspaper images. Some of the nocturnal firefighting images are truly frightening or absorbing. I must admit that some of them put a chill down my spine, such as a scene of exhausted firemen trudging past a multistory building with licking flames gushing from the upper floors; their body language tells us they are past their reserves, yet they fight on towards a blaze they may be able to contain. Another is a series of photographs snapped moments after a V-1 leveled Roseberry Avenue, Clerkenwell; dense white smoke like ground fog obscures the shadows of fire and rescue personnel. Yet another series shows Montford Place in Kensington shortly after a V-1 exploded. Then there is the rescue series of children being carried from their devastated school. Not all photos are horrors. One is of a lovely couple being married in the ruins of their church. Another shows survivors beaming with smiles and pointing at each other’s tattered clothes.

The book is narrated and the narrative is fortified with journal entries and reminiscences. It is interesting to read a lady’s account that the V-2 specter was not so frightful. She remarked that as a V-2 was just the unheralded bang of the explosion and as it was obvious she was alive after each blast, there was nothing to fear, whereas the sound of a V-1 approaching put dread in the hearts of all, wondering if it would fall on them.

Also supporting the work are sidebars such as Beaufighters Verses Bombers, pages from a diary, and comments on German bombs.

There is even a series of photos on censors' papers with their remarks scribbled on.

Finally, the appendices break down sterile facts with charts about civilian casualties. This includes those inflicted by bombing, V-1s, V-2s, and the Nazi cross-Channel guns. Interestingly, though not surprising, the V-2 inflicted the greatest number of casualties per attack, even though only a third fired hit their target.

Poignant as The Blitz – An Illustrated History is, it is fascinating. It reminds us of the resolve of Britain's people during that unique time, as well as the tragedies they had to raise resolve against. This is an excellent book for anyone interested in the this story of World War Two. Highly recommended!

Please remember, when contacting retailers or manufacturers, to mention that you saw their products highlighted here - on AEROSCALE.
[1]. Osprey Publishing. The Blitz – An Illustrated History. October 2010
Highs: Rare and unique photographs. Personal stories and supporting sidebars.
Verdict: This is an excellent book for anyone interested in the this story of World War Two.
Percentage Rating
  Scale: Other
  Mfg. ID: ISBN: 9781849084246
  Suggested Retail: £25.00
  PUBLISHED: Oct 13, 2011
  NATIONALITY: United Kingdom

Our Thanks to Osprey Publishing!
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About Frederick Boucher (JPTRR)

I'm a professional pilot with a degree in art. My first model was an AMT semi dump truck. Then Monogram's Lunar Lander right after the lunar landing. Next, Revell's 1/32 Bf-109G...cried havoc and released the dogs of modeling! My interests--if built before 1900, or after 1955, then I proba...

Copyright ©2021 text by Frederick Boucher [ JPTRR ]. Images also by copyright holder unless otherwise noted. Opinions expressed are those of the author(s) and not necessarily those of AeroScale. All rights reserved.


Nice review. This looks like a good teaching book.
OCT 13, 2011 - 01:01 PM
looks good, i know where picture 4 is... paul
OCT 14, 2011 - 01:47 AM
Hi Paul, Have you ever seen the magazine After The Battle? I wonder if they have ever done a story about V-1 / V-2 hits in London or other places?
OCT 15, 2011 - 02:01 AM
Hi Paul, Have you ever seen the magazine After The Battle? I wonder if they have ever done a story about V-1 / V-2 hits in London or other places? [/quote] hi, yes i've got a "few" after the battle's, i have "the raid on rommel's hq", on my desk at the moment. i've seen a few comparison pictures to do with flying bombs normally famous places in london, but i doubt if anyone has ever done them all. i was at the national army museum in chelsea/london recently and they have a map of all the flying bomb hits. paul
OCT 15, 2011 - 03:03 AM

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