Essex wartime historian in BBC programme about the Blitz

  • Date

    Tue 28 Nov 17

Fighter planes in World War 2

Dr Lucy Noakes, from the Department of History, will be appearing in an episode of a BBC2 documentary series.

During the Blitz over 450,000 bombs were dropped on Britain and every one had its own story. Blitz - The Bombs That Changed Britain examines the specific effect of four bombs, from their initial impact on individual lives, right through to their wider consequences for the Second World War, and all the way up to the present day.


Lucy, an expert in wartime history, was asked to take part in the programme because of her work with Mass Observation, a social survey organisation, initially set up during the First World War to record everyday life.


As Lucy explained: “Mass Observers travelled to a lot of blitzed towns and wrote about what they found there for the wartime Ministry of Information, who were concerned about morale.”


Lucy spent a day filming, although she is yet to find out how much will actually be used in the programme, which looks at the deadly impact of an incendiary bomb that set fire to St Peter’s Church in the historic heart of Bristol in November 1940.


“In Bristol the Mass Observers found a city near breaking point. For the programme, we drove around the city visiting various locations, commenting on what I saw, presumably, much as a Mass Observer would have done.


“I read out excerpts from the Mass Observation report, visited a particularly unpleasant air raid shelter in some caves and interviewed a veteran who had sheltered in the Clifton Rocks Railway Tunnel, which was converted into a shelter and which you can still visit to this day,“ said Lucy.


The episode will be screened on BBC 2 on Thursday 14 December.