History with its flickering lamp stumbles along the trail of the past, trying to reconstruct its scenes, to revive its echoes, and kindle with pale gleams the passion of former days. ~Winston Churchill

22 March, 2011

In the Blackout

In addition to photographs, we're also going to have a look at some posters, mostly from WWI and WW2, with a few interwar ones from the WPA. These posters can tell us so much-- about what was important, about mindsets, about what you would see and think about in your daily life during the time. During the wars especially there is a lot of strong propaganda, which is especially interesting, but we'll get to that later.

Today we're going to have a few posters from the Blitz in Britain during the Second World War. These all come from the terrific Imperial War Museum, whose collections are just astounding. There are in fact a few museums within their orbit in the UK, but I can say by experience that the Imperial War Museum London (housed in the former Bedlam) is great, very well done and very, very moving.

Anyway, on to the blackout.

This poster has a bit of fame as far as war posters go, and it's not difficult to see why. The artist conveys a logical message (be careful when it's all dark because of blackout) during a very serious time, and does so with an appealing sense of humour. I find this poster-- and all of these, really-- quite striking because of the way the blackout and the Blitz is treated as such a part of daily life, so much so that the posters aren't even about the Blackout itself, they're about the little details, like wearing white, not crashing into everyone, and how to flag a bus. Says a lot, doesn't it? Source

Another poster on a similar theme. It makes sense, of course, if it's night and suddenly there's no light-- but still I can't imagine most of us have ever really thought about the practicalities, and a reminder like this is quite illuminating. (Also I like the art of this one!) Source

Again, something you wouldn't really think about. ('Torch', by the way, means 'flashlight', to those North American readers who may not know). Although, how do we flag a bus, then? Source

Ah, this is how we do it! Good to know, isn't it? Source

This post also comes with a song-- 'Obey your Air Raid Warden', by Tony Pastor and his Orchestra. It's an American song, but the rules are pretty well the same. It's very cheery and happy sounding-- again illustrating the normalization and humour of something really quite terrible and frightening.

One, be calm
Two, get under shelter
Three, don’t run
Obey your air raid warden

Four, stay home
Five, keep off the highway
Six, don’t phone
Obey your air raid warden

There are rules that you should know
What to do and where to go
When you hear the sirens blow
Stop, look, and listen

Seven, don’t smoke
Eight, help all the kiddies
Most of all
Obey your air-raid warden

Stop, look, and listen

Dim the lights
Wait for information
Most of all
Obey your air raid warden

Stop the panic
Don’t get in a huff
Our aim today is to call their bluff
Follow these rules and that is enough

OBEY! your air raid warden

No comments:

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...

Search This Blog