World War II: Surviving The Blitz

World War II: Surviving The Blitz

Subject

Unit

The Blitz (Lesson 2)

Level

Duration

60 minutes

World War II: Surviving The Blitz

Student Pre-Work

Do you have anyone in your family (a grandparent or great-grandparent, most likely) who remembers The Blitz? Ask them what memories they have of this period in their life. How did they feel? What happened to them? Were they evacuated from their home? How did they know protect themselves? If you don’t have someone in your family, have a look online to see if you can find the story of someone who experienced The Blitz and try to gather similar information.

Opener:

Discussion

Ask 3-4 students to share what they found out from their pre-work task.

  • Did you find a family member or friend who experienced The Blitz firsthand?
  • If not, were you able to find an account online?
  • What memories did this person share with you?
  • How did they feel at the time?
  • Were they evacuated from their homes?
  • How did they protect themselves?

Class Activities

Audio (5 mins)

Teacher plays this air raid siren sound for the class (loudly, if possible).

This is the sound that British people heard on an almost daily basis, warning them to take shelter because bomber planes were on their way.

How do you think people felt when they heard that sound? What would you do?

The First Attack on London (5 mins)

On the sunny afternoon of September 7th, 1940, 350 German bomber planes filled the skies, dropping bombs on East London’s docks. 450 people were killed, and 1300 were injured on that day alone.

Night after night, for two months, the bombings continued, but, after that first day, the bombings all happened at night. The darkness made it difficult for British fighter jets to stop the German planes.

In London, and other cities, children had been evacuated. This means that the children had been sent to areas of Britain and overseas that were believed to be safe from the threat of bombing. Host families and small towns and villages looked after the children until the threat was over.

How would you feel if you were evacuated and sent away from your family?

Wartime: The People’s Story (15 mins)

For the people who remained in London, blackouts began. Lights were covered or turned off at night to make it more difficult for air raid bombers to see targets in the dark.

The Underground system was used as a shelter, and some people were made homeless when their homes were destroyed.

Rations were in place, meaning that each person could buy a fixed amount of different foods or supplies each week. Much of Britain’s food came from other countries on ships. Enemy submarines sank so many ships that there was a shortage of some foods. Rationing made sure everyone got a fair share. People handed over coupons from your ration book, as well as money, when you went shopping. When you had used up your ration of one food, you could not buy any more that week. The first foods rationed were bacon, sugar, tea, butter and meat. Clothes were rationed too. Paper, petrol and other things, such as soap (one bar a month) and washing powder, were also rationed.

Visualisation

bomb-sight

Bomb Sight

Here is a map that shows all of the bomb strikes on London during The Blitz. Find a location that you recognize — for example St. Paul’s Cathedral or The Houses of Parliament. When you click on the bomb location then ‘more info’, you will see photos and stories from that location.

How does the location look in the archival photos in comparison to what the location looks like today? What stories do people tell about that place?

Building Morale (30 mins)

Hitler’s plan was to bomb Britain into giving up. The government responded by finding ways to boost the morale of the people. Newspapers were not allowed to show injured bodies or destroyed homes. Reports concentrated on the bravery of rescue services.

What does the word ‘morale’ mean? 

It refers to the confidence, enthusiasm, and discipline of a person/group at a particular time. During the war, the goal was to keep the people confident that Britain could win the war, and help them to work through the difficult times with strength and togetherness.

Audio

British prime minister Winston Churchill made the following speech to the House of Commons on June 4th, 1940 in an effort to build morale.

Discussion

How do you react to that speech? How does it make you feel? Why do you think that is? How do you think the British people responded to it?

Group Activity

With your group, look at the photographs in this slideshow, imagining that you work for a newspaper. Your job is to decide which ones you will publish in your newspaper, keeping in mind that you want to keep the morale of the people high.

Closing Response

Matching (5 mins)

  • Blackout – All lights covered or blacked out to make it difficult for bomber planes to find targets
  • Gas masks – To cover the face and protect people in the event of a gas attack
  • Identity cards – To know who your friends and enemies are
  • Rations – To make sure everyone got their fair share of different foods
  • Air raid shelter – A place to take cover from falling bombs and debris
  • Evacuation – To save children and vulnerable people from being hurt or killed

Homework

None

Subject

History

Unit

The Blitz (Lesson 2)

Level

Key Stage 3, Secondary

Duration

60 minutes

Curriculum Points:

History (Key Stage 3)

  • challenges for Britain, Europe and the wider world 1901 to the present day
  • the Second World War and the wartime leadership of Winston Churchill

Materials & Preparation

Assets

Bomb Sight

WWII Censorship (Photo Gallery)

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