Big bang theory
One Bomb – The Hidden Histories Of The Blitz
In September 1940, after failing to establish air superiority over Britain during the Battle of Britain, Adolf Hitler and Hermann Göring adopted a new strategy. The Luftwaffe switched to mass attacks against industrial targets, towns and cities, largely conducted at night. In part, the hope was to break the morale of the British people by subjecting civilians to repeated attacks. Instead, the legend of the stubborn Blitz spirit was born.
That’s not to underestimate the scale of the suffering. During the Second World War, close to 100,000 high-explosive bombs fell on Britain, while Nazi raids killed at least 40,000 civilians during the eight months of the Blitz.
One way to view these horrific statistics and to use them to understand the human cost is to focus not on the big picture, but to take the effects of individual bombs as a starting point. That’s precisely the approach adopted here, in a four-part series made by WDYTYA? producers Wall to Wall in conjunction with the Open University.
Tracing the ‘ butterfly effect’ of these bombs, each episode looks at the immediate effects of an attack – what was it like when your street, even your own home, was bombed? – but also the wider effects of this one moment that still play out in today’s Britain. The aim is for personal stories to be a starting point for national stories about the multitude of ways that the Blitz irrevocably changed Britain’s urban and social landscapes.
The series will make extensive use of archive material. This ranges from the official, notably the meticulous, handcoloured bomb-damage maps that were drawn up in the immediate aftermath of attacks, to the personal, including letters, memoirs and family stories handed down by those who lived on streets where bombs fell. Jonathan Wright
One of the many families who lost a home during the Blitz