70th anniversary of Blitz marked with release of newly found colour Blitz footage

By Laura Burgess | 07 September 2010
a film still showing the aftermath of the wartime bombing of John Lewis Department Store
© Westminster City Council
At the start of the Blitz on September 7 1940, London faced 76 consecutive nights of bombing. Other major towns were attacked during the course of the campaign, including Coventry, and by the end of the onslaught on May 10 1941 thousands had been killed and more than a million houses had been destroyed in the capital alone.

Now unseen colour footage charting the aftermath of the devastation caused by the Germans has been discovered, after lying in an attic for 70 years.

The film, found by family members, was shot by Chief Air Raid Warden for Marylebone Alderman Coucher, and has been released to mark the anniversary of the Blitz by Westminster Council Archives.

The footage, Pages from St Marylebone's War Diary, is now part of a project by the Council and featured on the website West End at War, which was made by volunteers who searched through Civil Defence records to gather memories of the Blitz.

The films show Winston Churchill reviewing civil defence workers in Hyde Park and extensive shots of bomb damage to well-known buildings, including the John Lewis store on Oxford Street.

"My grandfather was an enthusiastic amateur film maker and he made this footage as a way of informing and training other wardens in Westminster," says granddaughter and former Lord Mayor of Westminster, Carolyn Keen.

"I had no idea just how striking the images would be and how much they would serve to act as a reminder of the terrible damage inflicted on London."

Other insightful scenes include Nigerian-born air raid warden Ita Ekpenyon one of the few black officers involved and medics and wardens setting up makeshift medical centres to treat casualties in the middle of the bomb damage.

Visit the West at War Website at www.westendatwar.org.uk
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