Blitz Street

Discussion in 'Films, Music and All Things Artsy' started by singha61, Apr 19, 2010.

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  1. Starting on Channel 4 tonight
    Tony Robinson presents a series that aims to give some idea of what it must have been like to live under the ferocious and constant bombardment of the Blitz, and to explain why it failed ultimately.

    Blitz Street itself is a row of terraced houses specially built on a remote military base and is subjected to a frightening range of large-scale high explosive bombs and incendiaries similar to those dropped by the Luftwaffe.

    With precise measurements of the supersonic blast waves and flying shrapnel, Blitz Street reveals the devastating impact of real explosives on bricks and mortar, allowing Ministry of Defence scientists to study the awesome power and mechanics of Second World War bombs.

    High-speed cameras operating at 1,000 frames per second show in amazing detail how houses could progressively collapse from one end to another; how people survived by sheltering under the stairs; or how they they had their clothes ripped from them or were lifted onto the roofs of their homes.
  2. In view of the recent spate of Blitz programmes, I’m not sure what more these programmes seek to achieve? Demolition work goes on all the time and here it’s uncontrolled demolition with people not removed from the danger area, plus, other devices to specifically compound damage and injury.

    If people are physically and mentally able to carry on they will as it’s in the nature of all species to survive. Bizarre as it may sound to some, there is quite a strong element of ‘getting used’ to things, even being bombed and taking casualties. The same as in regular combat, or as the expression goes, ‘Same Sh1t, Different Day’.

    I like Robinson as a Presenter, but really don’t think he’s handled conflict reporting all that well in the past. e.g. Stating the bl**ding obvious like, shock horror, people were getting hurt deliberately. Is this aimed at the Health and Safety X-Box generation?

  3. I think Tony Robinson hit his peak as an entertainer when he played "Baldrick" in Blackadder!
    Having been a small child when the "Blitz" was on, I only have faint recollections of a few incidents! I was told of an early incident when I was about a year or so old living with my grandparents in S. Wales. My gran had taken me to the local corner shop to get some groceries and was on her way back when the air raid sirens went off, just as a German hit & run daylight raider flew over towards the nearby docks, straffing and dropping several bombs! My gran dropped the groceries and ran into the house to shelter under the stairs (allegedly a safe place if you coudn't get to a proper shelter), only to realise she had dropped me and run in with the groceries, I was found sitting outside tearfull but unharmed!
    Later in the war (when I was about 4), I went to live in Kingston on Thames with my mother and can remember watching the searchlights & flares being dropped over London and hearing the sound of the AA guns during raids! Also one night when the raid got a bit closer to Kingston, hearing the whistle of a falling bomb followed by the really loud exposion, ( it had fallen in the next street)! The older boys in the family we were living with used to go out after raids to collect pieces of shrapnel. The oldest, aged about 10 or so found the shell of a partly burnt out incendiary bomb one morning and brought it home, he was offered the huge sum of 5 pounds for it by a passing American Soldier!
    Generally speaking people just got on with their lives as best they could and didn't dwell on it, although I still get a cold shiver when I hear the sirens go off!
  4. Watching pt.1, my worst fears not realised, ergo, my pre-assessment was wrong to which I have no problem putting my hands up to :cheers:

    Actually pleasantly surprised – so far. I was anticipating the usual crew of extras, in 40’s garb, sobbing some pretty pointless re-enactment to camera. Instead the subject was bombs and practical experiments to observed the effects of blast and fragmentation on actual period constructions. Maybe a bit anorak, but something which appealed to me, FWIW. :thumright:

    Minor criticisms, that Social History woman, again. Usually fine on pots and pans and costume, but inappropriate/unconvincing on military aspects and a bit ridiculous to speak ‘as if she were there’. And another of Robinson’s ‘what did he say?’ throwaway lines. This time, after an August 1940 caption, a reference to the BoB and ”the RAF were running dangerously short of planes and pilots”. :omg: Was not the high point of the BoB September, and was not our problem with pilots over planes? Would appreciate a BoB aficionado view on this ;)

  5. A friend's dad was a BoB Spitfire pilot. He mentioned that they never ran out of aircraft; every time they ran low on airframes (due as much to accidents as to the Germans!), the supply officer would ring the depot (or however it worked) and within a few hours replacement aircraft arrived - and these always tended to be brand-new. From time to time, the entire squadron would be re-equipped with new aircraft with various performance upgrades. He specifically mentioned that the plentiful supply of new fighters gave them (his squadron mates) tremendous confidence that the country was properly mobilised for war, and that it gave a considerable boost to their morale throughout the "dark days" of 1940.

    [The old boy also mentioned that he and most of his mates went from having nothing more than a bicycle or clapped-out motorbike, to being given - barely out of their teens - a fantastic state-of-the-art performance machine Spitfire/Hurricane. He said that the flight training of course emphasised the care of the aircraft through appropriate engine settings etc, etc, - but in fact they all just "thrashed the tits off them", because "if you broke it, they just gave you another one!". He considered that his intake of young fighter pilots were the most privileged of any generation, war or no war.....]
  6. Agreed. You are correct that Fighter Command was hurting far more for pilots than aircraft - have not got the figures to hand, but off the top of my head, after a week or two of slightly dodgy supply in July or early August, the system really got into gear and pushed new and repaired airframes through with admirable efficiency. One other minor criticism was presenting the veteran lady AA gunner as part of the air defences on 7 September 1940, Given that the War Office was only persuaded by Tim Pile in May 1941 to consent to employing women in the AA role, and that it then took until the summer to start forming the first mixed batteries, I think it is safe to say that she was not serving the guns on the night in question. Indeed, their own caption stated that she was only 16 in 1940. My guess is that she gave them a nice recollection of a busy AA night later in the war, which they then hijacked for this episode.

    But that aside, a nice anorakish piece. The devil in me says that they should end it with a "Call that a knife, this is a knife!" piece with a simulated 12,000lb HC. But someone might then mention Hamburg or Dresden and start bleating...
  7. Well, any bleating likely won't be coming from anyone of ex_colonial's generation. "The Boche f##king well started it" is more likely:
  8. I watched this with my Boxhead girlfriend. At first she had a bit of a whine she wanted to watch something else but ended up fascinated.

    She also pointed out that Tony brought sweet FA to the party but the scientist bod was very good and wasn’t at all condescending.

    Alas she brought up Hamburg (where she is from) and the ‘Fire storm’ but before I could interrupt they mentioned “...Coventry, next week” with a quick flash of footage.

    As for 12,000lb bombs, the graphic shows 6 (I think) aerial weapons. The one on the right being the V2. I doubt anyone will be disappointed with the effects of that bad boy....
  9. Many thanks T(4) and Ollie, lovely illustrations :thumright: There’s some very good talking head recollections in the ‘Their Finest Hour’ series dealing with Civil Defence, Production and Railways. Occasionally turns up on Yesterday, ergo it’s BBC so just possible may appear on BBC regular – should they have a momentary relapse to meaningful British history programmes :roll:

    I suppose the ‘BoB shortage of planes’ nonsense will keep being trotted out along with similar cobblers such as ‘Britain was starving’, ‘D-Day was our biggest armada’, ‘D-Day was the invasion of Europe’, ‘all Commandos were trained at Achnacarry’, etc, etc, etc……….

  10. Very true. Later in my life I had the honour of meeting many individuals who served in various branches of the services including several who were flying with Bomber command, one of whom was a Pathfinder Pilot! Not ONE of them had any qualms about bombing any of the German towns & cities, as you so rightly said their attitude was "The Boche fuckng started it"!
    One amusing sideline to this was on a trip to Leipzig in E. Germany in the 70's. I was with a Jewish business man who had hired a car + driver to take us from Berlin to Leipzig. Going through Berlin the German driver was proudly pointing out the various sights of interest. He pointed out the large Siemens factory we were passing, at which my Jewish friend nudged me in the ribs and whispered that the last time he had seen it was nearly 30 years earlier from 20,000 feet when he used its location in a bend in the river to drop several tons of bombs on Berlin! He had served in the RAF doing several tours as a WO "master bomb aimer" for his squadron! Needless to say he didn't want the driver to hear him. He had also been on the Dresden drop and had absolutely no qualms about it!
  11. Is he the bloke who, when asked "Have you been to Berlin before", replied "Yes. But the last time I was here, I was delivering metal . . . from 20,000 feet" ? :D
  12. Lord Beaverbrook and his Ministry of Aircraft production were easily producing far more aircraft an the Germans were destroying. The quality of some of these aircraft were not as good as some would have liked but they did the job. The problem was that the airfields were being hit plus the pilots were knackered. When Hitler shifted his bombing to the cities that gave the RAF a breathing space plus the Czech/ Polish and (dare I say it) French pilots were coming online. It must be remembered that a large percentage of the RAF's pilots were non-commissioned and also from Canada Australia, NZ, South Africa, Rhodesia, Ireland and to a lesser extent the USA plus other far flung places of the Empire or places wanting to be part of it..
    As to the TV programme itself - it shows that the only predicable thing about the effects of an explosion is its unpredictability ie the milk bottle.

  13. :lol: :lol: A bit like the old American boy who had mislaid his passport on arriving in France. The French guy told him "you always have to have a passport to come to France", to which the guy replied I didn't have one last time in 1944!!
  14. the_boy_syrup

    the_boy_syrup LE Book Reviewer

    Don't forget no Coventry no Hamburg or Dresden
    Bomber Command learned from Coventry and used it against the Germans
    The Gemans coined the word Coventryised to describe a city aniahlated from the air

    Hence the first wave drop HE to blow out doors and windows plus water electricity,gas mains etc and then incenderies to start fires and a second wave (although the Germans did this because of the weight limits on their aircraft) to catch the emergancy services out as they arrived
    Every raid should have been like Hamburg / Dresdon /Coventry as thats what Bomber Command always tried to achieve on raids
    Hamburg was the raid that frightend the Nazi leadership Goebells ordered Berlin's women and children evacuated but then changed he order to stop panic

    C4 also did a very good programe on the London Blitz when there was almost a firestorm

    Back to the BoB plane thing

    Many of the RAF aircraft that crash landed were recovered
    There was a programe about one of the spitfires flying today that had different wings and tails section from which it was first built with as it had been rebuilt using parts salvaged during the battle
  15. Its not great TV really.

    The talking heads always make for interesting viewing but the whole lets blow up a street thing is a bit of a side issue. No doubt necessary to hook the Holywood viewing masses.