Blitz spirit? Britain was riven by race and class tension in 1940, new BBC documentary claims 


Blitz spirit? Britain was riven by race and class tension in 1940, new BBC documentary claims

  • Lucy Worsley sets out to uncover the truth about the ‘Blitz spirit’ in WWII
  • In new BBC documentary she follows the stories of six people during the Blitz
  • She found class division, racial tension and rule-breaking affected the spirit

We’ve been drawing inspiration from the Blitz spirit during the pandemic – but did it ever exist?

Historian Lucy Worsley has set out to discover if Britons really did come together with resilience and good humour during the darkest days of the Second World War.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, she found it ‘only in some people, some of the time’, and says class division, racial tension and rule-breaking often let the side down. 

In a BBC documentary, Miss Worsley follows the stories of six people living and working in the eight months of Nazi bombings that killed more than 43,000 civilians from 1940 to 1941.

Historian Lucy Worsley has set out to discover if Britons really did come together with resilience and good humour during the darkest days of the Second World War

In one account, air raid warden Ita Ekpenyon said that in a mass shelter ‘some told others to go back to their own countries and some tried to practise segregation’.

Miss Worsley explains that the Blitz spirit was a useful propaganda tool for the government. 

‘The famous photograph of a milkman picking his way through rubble to leave people’s daily pinta was, it turns out, staged,’ she says.

She concludes the phenomenon ‘definitely existed’, but ‘flickered on and off’.

Blitz Spirit is on BBC1 tomorrow at 8.30pm.

In a BBC documentary, Miss Worsley follows the stories of six people living and working in the eight months of Nazi bombings that killed more than 43,000 civilians from 1940 to 1941

In a BBC documentary, Miss Worsley follows the stories of six people living and working in the eight months of Nazi bombings that killed more than 43,000 civilians from 1940 to 1941

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