Collecting London at War Memorabilia

For six long years, between 1939 and 1945, Britain’s capital city became the focus of friend and foe alike. Home to millions of citizens and visiting allies, London endured the nation’s biggest Blitz and suffered the most casualties. It emerged from the conflict bloodied, scarred but resolute. Austin J Ruddy explores a wide selection of objects that exemplify the capital’s struggle during World War Two.

ARP and Civil Defence personnel in the London Region wore borough chest title insignia. From 1939-1941, they took the form of red ARP embroidered titles (upper) and after that date, old gold, worn on Civil Defence uniforms (lower). (ALL IMAGES VIA AUSTIN J RUDDY)
The dramatic story of London’s firefighters in the Blitz was told in this 1941 London County Council publication, Fire Over London. Packed with powerful black and white photos, it sells for £10-£15 today.

London in 1939 was the nation’s beating heart, with the greatest economic, and possibly industrial, output in Britain. It had a population of almost nine million people living in an area of 750sq miles (1,942km2). With the onset of war, this powerhouse turned much of its production from civil to military use and in doing so became the largest single target in western Europe at that time.

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