Incredible colour footage shows London’s streets during the Blitz

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  • May 8, 2020
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Amazing footage of London’s streets during the Blitz shows us the strength Brits had 75 years ago.

As we mark VE Day today, we remember those the war veterans who sacrificed their lives to protect our country and bring us to victory.

And the Imperial War Museum’s footage, created by amateur filmmaker Rosie Newman as part of her film Britain At War, reminds us of this.

The first video, Damage on Piccadilly, shows a London street scene with adults and children appearing in good spirits despite being surrounded by rubble.

Another clip, Blitz Windows, shows specially designed windows of recognisable brands, including Boots, with the aim of minimising damage.

And Ruined Buildings shows buildings along Piccadilly utterly devastated by air raids.

The clips are unusual because they were shot almost entirely in colour.

According to the Imperial War Museum, Rosie Newman bought her first 16mm camera in 1928 as a hobby, but over the next decade photography became a serious pursuit.

She filmed all her foreign travels and, encouraged by friends, began showing these films publicly as entertainment and to raise funds for charity.

In recognition of her achievements, in particular for her films of India, she was elected fellow of the Royal Geographic Society.

Rosie Newman filmed in and around her home area in London’s Piccadilly in 1940, recording the bomb damage and citizens ‘keeping calm and carrying on’.

Using her network of social contacts, she managed to gain access to the Armed Forces – filming troops on manoeuvres, Spitfires at RAF Digby, onboard HMS Berkeley on active service, troops departing for France and the return of the wounded.

The first version of Britain at War was completed in 1942 and was shown in venues such as the Dorchester Hotel. 

The film was always presented with music and Miss Newman would sit by the projector and operate a dual turntable gramophone player moving from one record to another – like an early DJ.

The war museum was offered a large number of Rosie Newman’s original 78rpm records in 2010, and staff managed to produce digital copies of the film which is available today.

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