The Blitz has never looked so cheery! Incredible colour photos show how Britain kept calm and carried on with bunker parties, cups of tea - and making sure the milk still got delivered
- Images include people browsing in bombed-out Holland House Library in Kensington, west London
- Others show defiant Britons celebrating Christmas 1940 in air-raid shelter; and damaged St Pancras station
- The incredible pictures were colourised by electrician, Royston Leonard from Cardiff
THE BLITZ: THE TERROR FROM THE SKIES
Rarely seen images in colour display the horror and bravery experienced by millions during the Blitz.
These pictures show just some of the moments that will reignite memories for Brits who lived through terrifying raids and give a unique insight to those too young to experience or remember it.
On the week of the 70-year anniversary of the Blitz these shots, from a new ITV documentary, Words Of The Blitz, bring the horrifying series of German air attacks on the UK to life, with scenes of wartime British cities in moving colour images.
Horrifying reality: This collection of images taken from the ITV documentary, Words Of The Blitz, reveal the devastating damage the Blitz had on the UK. This picture, above, shows crowds of survivors inspecting the remains of a building in Bristol after being hit during a raid in 1940
Path of devastation: The documentary features rare colour footage of cities across the country that have been battered by bombs. Above we see a volunteer walking across rubble in Bristol
Seven top British actors including Dominic West, Sheila Hancock and Steven Berkoff will read the diaries and letters of men and women fearing for relatives, watching neighbours' homes obliterated by German bombs and swathes of Luftwaffe aircraft sweeping overhead during shocking raids.
Hearing the words of teenagers, a woman in love, fire-fighters responding to attacks, nurses treating the injured and dying, and senior government officials will offer viewers a rare and heart-rending glimpse into the deep personal impact of the terrifying air raids. The cast of actors will also be joined by other readers including a Bomb Disposal Officer recently returned from the war in Afghanistan, and by Blitz survivors reading their own accounts first hand.
Accompanying the words that describe living through the Blitz in fear, and sometimes in excitement, are the incredible sights of London city being slowly crippled by WWII.
Scenes from outside the dome of St. Paul's Cathedral show a sight that is hard to believe.
Doing their bit: Scenes including those of brave air raid wardens ready for action, above, are accompanied with words describing what it was like to live during the terrifying time
Battling on: It is hoped by Director Paul Copeland that the programme, featuring against-the-odd rescues, above, will show people what really happened in Britain
With the shadow of the huge dome in the foreground, utter devastation fills the camera with several buildings flattened by German bombs.
Director Paul Copeland said: 'We wanted to make the war real.
'We want to show people that this really happened in Britain, to real Brits and not just people speaking in funny accents and in black and white.
'Having this colour footage that most people have never seen before was a way to achieve that. It leaves you in no doubts that just 70 years ago London and other targets in Britain were being repeatedly attacked and parts of it were devastated.
'There are several images of the Blitz that are used over and over. We wanted to use material that was fresh and gives a new perspective.'
Copeland added: 'It's amazing how much footage is still turning up in old archives and attics.
'Having looked through all this colour footage, I now travel through London and every time I see some old Victorian terraces with a modern building in the middle, it makes me realise that a bomb must have landed there.
'Every time I see a big glass building in the middle of an old block, it's very likely it was a Blitz bomb. It's incredible to think that. The history of the Blitz is all around us.'
In memory: This fresh footage has been used to mark the 70th anniversary of the Blitz
A city on its knees: Taken in early 1941 from above this shot highlights the terrifying extent of damage in London
Images of heroism: Volunteers worked to pull survivors from rubble of collapsed buildings across the country
Enemy in the skies: Luftwaffe aircraft swept across Britain dropping deadly bombs during the raids
Close-call: These images, above and below, show terrible bomb damage in the shadow of St Pauls Cathedral in the heart of the City of London
Other moments captured on camera are the thousands of Brits rushing to defend their country.
Volunteering to become air raid wardens to signal forthcoming attacks and firemen to deal with the outbreak of fires or pull their countrymen from the rubble of collapsed buildings, lines of men are seen marching together in unison before being given their roles.
Also brought to life are the words describing the moment Hitler launched the biggest air raid in history on September 7, 1940, as 350 enemy bombers escorted by 600 fighters head to pulverise London.
Teenager Colin Perry, whose diary is narrated by Russell Tovey, described the astonishing sight as the colossal raid headed towards the city over Surrey.
He likens the mesmerising formations of fighters swarming around their bombers to 'bees around their queen'.
Describing the attack that followed - pounding the city's docks and killing 400 Londoners - is Romola Garai reading from the diary of Joan Wyndham, then 18 and living in Chelsea.
Pulling together: The documentary tells the stories of the young men who signed up for national service in 1940, above
Unforgettable: Much of the rarely seen footage has been found in archives
She said: 'Tonight the Blitz started. We saw four bombs fall on Kensington High Street. The sky over by the docks was red, as if it was an enormous sunset. The bombs are lovely. I think it's all thrilling.'
Unknown to Joan, the German bombers would return again and again, leading to over eight months of sustained air raids on Britain that almost brought the country to its knees.
The Blitz lasted until May 10, 1941and saw Britain sustain prolonged periods of heavy bombing by the Nazi Germany air forces in several phases of intensity.
Hitler intended to demoralise the country before launching an invasion using his naval and ground forces.
Much of the footage is available to view at Bristol Records Office, for free, and at the London Transport Museum's new exhibition 'Under Attack: London, Coventry and Dresden' www.ltmuseum.co.uk
The spirit of the Blitz: Air raid shelters, pictured, helped to protect people as Nazi Germany air forces bombed the country in several phases of intensity
The RAF commander who ordered the controversial fire-bombing of Dresden which killed an estimated 25,000 civilians during World War II said he would do it again in a long lost interview filmed 30 years after the end of the conflict.
Former marshal of the Royal Air Force, Sir Arthur 'Bomber' Harris, gave the green light for the 1945 bombing which reduced the city in Saxony, Germany, to rubble.
The attack was widely criticised because of 'blanket bombing' which hit civilian areas as well as military targets - killing thousands of innocents.
But the newly-discovered interview with Sir Arthur, which was filmed in 1977 and will be aired for the first time on the BBC tonight, shows the RAF chief defending his decision.
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Commander: Air Marshal Arthur 'Bomber' Harris, who planned the majority of the RAF's night raids during World War II, is seen at work in his office
Casualties: Around 25,000 people were killed by Allied bombers over the course of two night raids on the city of Dresden in Saxony, Germany, in February 1945
Fresh evidence: Footage of Air Arthur Harris being interviewed by Air Vice Marshal Tony Mason has emerged 36 years after it was filmed
And the chief commander of the Bomber Command tells his interviewer, Air Vice Marshal Tony Mason, that he would do it again if he had to.
He said: 'If I had to have the same time again I would do the same again, but I hope I wouldn’t have to.' Sir Arthur then adds: 'I hope it’s been of some use, for future generations in keeping them out of these riots. It never does anybody any good.'
During the interview, Mason discusses how many felt the Dresden attack was 'a city too far'.
However Harris stood his ground saying: 'The bombers kept over a million fit Germans out of the German army… Manning the anti-aircraft defences; making the ammunition, and doing urgent repairs, especially tradesmen.'
Interview: Sir Arthur said he would still make the same decision to bomb Dresden if given his time again
Reduced to rubble: The 'blanket bombing' of Dresden was widely criticised as civilian areas were hit as well as military targets
Destruction: The capital of Saxony was left in ruins after the Allied air bombings with the Town Hall, pictured in the background, reduced to a shell of a building
Harris also countered the myth that area bombing was his idea - claiming it was already Government policy.
He said: 'I lived in a shower of directives from the day I took over to the last day of war.
'The directive when I took over was that I wasn't to specifically aim at anything unless ordered to do so and to blast the German cities as a whole.'
Air Marshall Arthur Harris, Head of the RAF Bomber Command, said it was Government policy not to bomb specific targets
Mason asked Harris why he was ordered to bomb whole cities rather than specific Nazi targets. In response, Harris said: 'They came to the conclusion that they weren’t hitting very much and they didn’t have very much to hit things with…'
Sir Arthur, who died in 1984 aged 91, refused a peerage because his men were denied a campaign medal.
The Bomber Command, which suffered the highest casualty rate of any British unit, losing 55,573 of its 125,000 men, eventually got a memorial last year.
It was erected despite numerous objections from German politicians.
Bomber Command veteran Doug Radcliffe, 89, who is now secretary of the Bomber Command Association, backed his former commander.
He told the Daily Express: 'Our raids meant there were 10,000 88mm anti-aircraft guns pointing up to the sky instead of at our troops and the Russians.
'Dresden was a major centre for the manufacture of opticals, such as gun sights and binoculars.'
He added: 'After Dresden we lost another 700 bombers, and London was being hit by V2s which nobody could fight against.'
It was initially claimed that up to 250,000 civilians lost their lives in the Dresden bombings but an official report released after the war showed the casualty figure was in fact closer to 25,000.
Over two days and nights in February 1945 British and American bombers turned the city into a sea of flames and rubble.
Air raids: Dresden can be seen in flames following allied bombings in February 1945
Restoration: Residents can be seen working on the removal of debris from Dresden's Muenzgasse street in 1952
The victims - mostly women and children - died in savage firestorms whipped up by the intense heat of 2,400 tons of high explosive and 1,500 tons of incendiary bombs.
The newly-found footage will shed more light on Dresden and the actions of the RAF during World War Two.
Professor Richard Aldrich, University of Warwick, said: 'It’s interesting because it’s not done immediately after the second world war, it’s done at a time when there have already been several waves of interpretation about Bomber Command, about Harris himself and so one not only gets his memories which are still clearly quite fresh, but also is commentary on those different interpretations.
'It’s a multi-layered interview and all the more interesting for it.'
HOW THE BOMBER COMMAND CHANGED THE COURSE OF WORLD WAR II
Sir Arthur Harris was appointed commander-in-chief of The Bomber Command - the unit responsible for defending Britain from aerial attacks and bombing enemy targets - in 1942.
In the early part of the war, the Bomber Command’s raids had little effect.
The bombers only flew at night to reduce the danger of being shot down, but with primitive navigation equipment, this made it difficult to identify and hit a small target.
In 1941, it was decided that The Bomber Command would target entire industrial cities - known as area or blanket bombing.
This policy was endorsed by Churchill and formally adopted in early 1942 as Sir Arthur took the helm of The Bomber Command.
Harris said at the start of the bombing campaign that he was unleashing a whirlwind on Germany.
Working class housing areas were targeted because they had a higher density and firestorms were more likely. This disrupted the German workforce and the Germans capability of producing more weapons.
The plan was highly controversial even before it started, but the Cabinet thought bombing was the only option available to attack Germany directly as a major invasion of the continent was years away. The Soviets were also demanding that the Western Allies do something to relieve the pressure on the Eastern Front.
Brave: The Bomber Command, pictured, lost more soldiers than other unit during WWII
Dresden was one of the cities targeted with 'area bombings'. Around 25,000 civilians were killed by allied bombs dropped over the course of two days in February 1945.
The tactic has been strongly criticised leading to accusations of war crimes.
The Bomber Command suffered the highest casualty rate of any British unit - losing 55,573 of its 125,000 men.
After opposition from German politicians, a memorial to The Bomber Command was finally unveiled in Green Park, London, last year.
Tribute: The memorial to The Bomber that was unveiled in Green Park, London, last year
THE HORROR OF JUNE 10 1944: HOW MARGUERITE ROUFFANCHE ESCAPED NAZIS MURDERERS AND LIVED TO TELL THE TALE
The highly symbolic visit was as much a part of France's willingness to face up to its wartime past as Germany's.
European Cities in War and Peace
It also involved military vehicles, trucks, cars, and motorcycles of the era as wartime planes whizzed overhead while actors sought to imitate the battle as closely as possible. The siege of Leningrad began in September 1941, three months after Nazi Germany launched Operation Barbarossa against the Soviet Union.
Striking and evocative, they chart a dramatic period of British history - from the end of the World War One to the year of the Queen's Coronation.
But these treasured photographs of famous landmarks such as St Paul's Cathedral and Blackpool Tower could have been lost forever, were it not for a major conservation project which has made them freely available on the internet for the first time.
More than 15,000 pictures - many so old and fragile that they were close to becoming beyond repair - have been uploaded on to the Britain from Above website, which is launched today.
Aerial view: More than 15,000 photographs, including this picture of St Paul's Cathedral in London from March 1921, have been made freely available on the internet for the first time
Back to the future: A much cleaner and white modern St Paul's Cathedral and colourful - but seemingly less vibrant - Blackpool Tower in pictures taken last year
Landmarks: The instantly recognisable Blackpool Tower and the Winter Gardens, as they were in July 1920.
It is the first batch of some 95,000 images, taken between 1919 and 1953, that are due to be put online in the next two years, showing the changing face of modern Britain.
The pictures come from one of the earliest and most significant collections of aerial photography.
Many shots were said to have been taken during the early days of aviation by former war pilots flying at very low altitudes.
The collection includes rare photographs of some of Britain's most historic landmarks, such as a picture of St Paul's from 1921, a 1927 image of Brighton's West Pier, and a view of the Forth Rail Bridge from 1937.
Full house: Wembley Stadium hosts the 1935 FA Cup final, which Sheffield Wednesday won by beating West Bromwich Albion 4-2. The Cierva autogyro in the foreground was flown by Scotland Yard, experimenting with air observation to monitor crowds
Revamped: The new Wembley Stadium (left), which opened on the site of the old one in 2007, and Centre Court beside the newer, spherical Court No 2 at Wimbledon
Pastime: Fans watch the tennis at Centre Court Wimbledon in June 1921 amid much smaller grounds than exist today
Amusements and attractions: The collection includes an aerial view of Brighton's West Pier, taken in April 1927
Updated: Brighton Pier now has a theme park built on the end and the Mersey water front in Liverpool has undergone significant regeneration
Heritage: A July 1920 photograph of George's Stage and the Three Graces in Liverpool is in the collection
But experts have asked the public to help them identify other photographs whose subjects remain a mystery.
The website has interactive features which visitors can use to add information, share personal memories, download images and customise their own themed photo galleries.
Today's launch is the latest stage of a major exercise in conservation and cataloguing.
The photographs come from the Aerofilms Collection, which was acquired for the nation in 2007 when the company faced financial difficulties.
They have been digitised with the help of the English Heritage and the Royal Commissions on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Scotland and Wales.
Fog on the Tyne: The Tyne Bridge under construction in Newcastle in 1928 as coal ships and other vessels dock at the riverside
Changing faces: Newcastle's Tyne Bridge this week with Olympic rings added (but missing the industry) and an overhead view of Meadowfield Quay in Glasgow where ships are still being built - but far fewer than in its heyday
Age of industry: The extensive Meadowside Quay and Upper Clyde Shipbuilding Yard in Glasgow in 1931. The docks are surrounded by quadrangle tenements for the army of workers
Bird's-eye view: This August 1937 photograph of the Forth Rail Bridge and Inch Garvie in Scotland is freely available online for the first time
Updated transport: The Forth Bridge, which is used by trains, was joined to its west by the Forth Road Bridge in 1964, while today Largs ferries are no longer paddle boats
Glorious holidays: Tourists wait at the Largs Harbour Pier on the west Scottish coast to catch a paddle boat steamer to one of the islands
Highlights include the first boxing match at Wembley Stadium in 1924, crowds on the banks of the River Clyde watching the first voyage of the newly-built RMS Queen Mary in 1936, and the Thames Flood of 1947.
Other photographs taken in Scotland include bird's-eye views of the Tay bridge, the Wallace Monument, Edinburgh's Princes Street, the Caledonian Canal, Glasgow Green and Hampden Park.
Home: A steam train chugs through densely-packed housing Kensal Rise, west London in March 1921
Away: A cliff-top campsite in Crimdon Park, County Durham, in 1946 shows how Britons with limited means after the Second World War enjoyed themselves in another age of austerity
Water, water everywhere: A dramatic picture of the Thames Flood of March 1947 can be viewed on the website
Crowds: This July 1948 photograph of Durham Miners Gala is among more than 15,000 images which have been put on the website
When was this taken? Visitors have been urged to share their thoughts on the pictures, such as this undated photograph of the civic centre in Swansea, south Wales
Moving forward: Swansea's former Civic Centre - now known as the Guildhall - reveals many more cars than before the war, while Hampden Park has been revamped
Field of dreams: Hampden Park in Glasgow, where the Scotland football team plays its home matches, as it was in 1927
Majestic: The collection includes this aerial image of Windsor Castle, taken in August 1928
Also shown are the luxury hotel and golf resort at Gleneagles, which will host the 2014 Ryder Cup, as well as the seaside town of Oban, in Argyll, Balmoral Castle and the A8 road which runs through the central belt connecting Glasgow and Edinburgh.
Anna Eavis, head of archive at English Heritage, said that the Aerofilms Collection embodies all that is exciting about aerial photography.
Rebecca Bailey, head of education and outreach at the Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Scotland said: 'We hope that people today will be able to immerse themselves in the past through the new website, adding their own thoughts and memories to this remarkable collection.'
The photographs can be viewed at www.britainfromabove.org.uk
All aboard: Crowds line the banks of the River Clyde in Clydebank to watch the first voyage of the newly-built Queen Mary in March 1936
Dreaming spires: The towers, domes and quadrangles of the colleges at the University of Oxford in May 1920
University days: The magnificent surroundings of King's College, Cambridge, pictured in January 1920
Black and white beauty: The stunning landscape surrounding the Caledonian Canal at Kilmallie in Scotland, pictured in 1950
Standing proud: Stiirling's Wallace Monument - commemorates the 13th century Scottish hero William Wallace - taken in 1928
Splendour: The grounds of the Gleneagles Hotel in Auchterarder, Scotland, pictured in 1932
Shining light: The Kinnaird Head lighthouse and Denmark Street leading into the town centre of Fraserburgh, Scotland in 1939 at the outrbreak of WWII
Howzat! Northampton cricket ground surrounded by terraced houses and shoe-making factories in 1926
Early days of flight: A DeHavilland DH9B G-EAVK, which captured many of the aerial photograps, at Hendon airfield, north-west London in 1921