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How can a photograph help us to imagine life during the Blitz?

This photograph was taken in 1942. It shows bomb damage in Exeter during the Blitz. This building front is all that remains of a terrace of houses, the rest has been destroyed by the bombing. Exeter and a number of other cities were targeted by Hitler in revenge for Air Marshal Harris's bombing campaign against German cities in 1942.

Bomb damage in Exeter during the Blitz
Bomb damage in Exeter during the Blitz © Reproduced by permission of Historic England Archive. Ref: BB42/00714

Teaching idea

Using the information given within the Teacher's Notes above discuss what the Blitz was and why it happened. Ask them to suggest reasons why there are no children in the photograph. Ask your pupils to imagine that they are in the photograph of Exeter. What questions would they ask the people in the photograph? What do they think the people are discussing? How do they think the people might be feeling/how would they feel if it was their house in the photograph? In pairs or groups ask them to write (and perform) a short piece of dialogue between themselves and the people in the photograph.

Learning aims and outcomes

  • Explain the effects of bomb damage
  • List some of the effects of war on everyday life
  • Suggest ways in which people suffered
  • Suggest why evacuation was used as one strategy to protect children

Prior knowledge

  • A concept of what the Blitz was and when it occurred

Extended learning and useful links

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