Source B was banned by sensors in 1943, showing the effects of an air raid on the 20th of January on Catford girls’ school in London showing the sporadic nature of bombing. This source shows what the photographer wanted the public to see, reality, not necessarily what the government officials did. The photograph could have been taken as evidence, to prove the event happened or, it could have been taken for future generations by, perhaps, historians of the time, for those who had not lived through the war. Another option is the photo was taken for personal use but we cannot be certain.
The source shows how people weren’t exposed to the full impact of the war in two ways. On one hand the public were often left ignorant to what was happening during the war due to censorship, as the source shows. The sensitive photograph shows a large loss in the innocent lives of children. The way in which the bodies have been laid out, strewn in sacking, almost signifies a demoralisation in the people, by the manner in which they are being treated. Looking closely at the photograph it also appears the surrounding fence has been purposefully constructed in order to shield the public from seeing the devastating scenes behind.
This is just one example of her people were prevented from seeing anything firsthand which did not promote a positive image. From the photo it is also possible to see two rows of attached housing in the street behind the scene, so its clearly an urban area. The area in which the bodies are laid out is possibly the school playground but we do not know. The fact we know it is a school which has been hit could suggest Catford is an area with a lot of people living within close proximity which, in turn, I could infer that areas with high population densities were not avoided by German bombers, thus, everyone, in every home is at risk.
The photograph has clearly been taken in daylight but the time is not specified. I believe it is unlikely that the bodies would have been left out during the night so the air raid is likely to have taken place within the same day. Although the source is not conclusive I can deduce the school was bombed during the day because the children were at school at the time. In the picture, although not clear, it is possible to see 3 men and what appear to be 2 women. The men are wearing hats and uniforms suggesting they are part of a service, perhaps ARP wardens or home guards.
This gives us an idea of what these men’s jobs involved and the saddening yet essential nature of the jobs they would have had to carry out. The women could be teachers or nurses. They are most likely to be nurses with the bodies rather than teachers, as they would probably be in shock after the air raid, however, the teachers could be identifying the bodies. Whichever the profession of the women, it shows that regardless people carried on with life, doing what they had to do even if it was unpleasant.
It tells us how people’s jobs changed, including new responsibilities to what they had previously done – everyone had to accommodate the war. In the background fences and buildings are left standing undamaged which in some ways portrays an ironic picture. The ideas that conjure in people’s minds in connection with wartime Britain are often ones of material devastation and the loss of military lives, not often does one think of the millions of ordinary citizens left at home which area effected, although ultimately they are, even school children.
People see fallen houses reduced to piles of dust and war memorials but as source B suggests; the Blitz was a war of foul play, a war which involved the people of Britain. Source C however, portrays a very different aspect of the war. It shows a photograph which was published on the 15th September 1940 as a morale booster. An important point in this source is the date, the photograph must have been taken some time before being published although we cannot be certain of an exact date, but it would appear to have been taken relatively close to the beginning of the war.
With hindsight we know that At the point of being taken people hadn’t yet felt the full affects of the war. It was only a year since war had been declared. It could even have been the first time people in the area had experienced a serious air raid as no German bombers came until September 1940 due to the ‘phoney war’. The monotonies of the war had not yet set in and therefore there spirits had not yet been dampened nor there nerves been shattered. This picture wants you to see crowds of Britons still displaying the British ‘grit’. Everybody is happy, jolly and smiling.
We can also see a whole host of furniture pilled in the background which we would imagine has been salvaged from these tenant’s homes which were ‘wrecked’. It gives an aura of strength in the people, like they have a fighting spirit they won’t give up on. In the photo there is some sort of brick construction beyond the furniture which is still standing. The fact that it is still standing yet we know the tenants houses aren’t could allow us to deduce the conclusion that bombing was inconsistent as clearly not the whole area has been gutted, some places are still standing.
In addition, visible in the photo are soldiers towards the left at the front, men in suits towards the back on the right and middle aged women at the front. This shows there perhaps wasn’t much mixing between people. Although on first glances Looking at the picture and the behaviour of the people we can learn something else about the effects of the blitz on the British people. The crowd look very comfortable with each other, hugging and cheering for the photo. Perhaps this could indicate due to the war effort communities became closer, providing a more united front – neighbours helping neighbours.
This shows if you look a step deeper, the idea of everybody being one big community may not be as reliable as you may at first assume. Another observation is the absence of children. There don’t appear to be many, if any, children present in the photo, we do not know if this is because the children were not wanted to be included or if it was impossible to include them. The children may have been evacuated to safe areas which would mean the area in the photograph was considered by the government to be an evacuation area, thus, heavy bombing was expected. This picture is obviously not people in their natural environment.
Even though it’s a primary source the photo could have been adapted at the processing stage so you have to be careful – it is great for propaganda uses. Publishers own quotations can be added which carry the risk of being biased so it is difficult to access the accuracy as certain limitations affect it. People are consciously posing for the photo, and thus it could be likely a publisher of some kind has taken it. the photo could be staged, they could have been instructed how to be, or people could even have been smiling at the prospect of hsving their pictures in the paper.
This picture was taken to show a certain mood within the country, to give a positive idea to the war time country, and almost definitely to be published. Positive images would be published to try and lift the mood of the country, as the source is playing on the peoples emotions. Overall, we can see from both sources the people in Britain were affected by the war in negative and positive ways. Propaganda paid a large part in people’s understanding of the war, the nature of bombing was often sporadic and no one could escape it for sure.