Shelter In the Underground – Life In Wartime London – 1944 – Past Daily Reference Room
Frank Alban Reports from London to KFI – November-December 1944 – Gordon Skene Sound Collection –
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With our current state of affairs over COVID and the stay-at-home/lockdown aspects of living life in the midst of pandemic, I ran across this series of reports, beamed from the BBC to radio station KFI in Los Angeles in 1944 regarding living in the London underground throughout the war.
Some four years after the infamous Blitz, many Londoners were still using the Underground as a place to sleep at night – partly because so many homes and apartment buildings had been destroyed during the German raids over England, which left so many completely homeless and the powers that be were unable to rebuild during the war years. Also, during the final months of the war, Germany was still carrying out bombing raids over England, but this time via rocket. The V-2 was particularly deadly because of its ability to stay relatively silent, until it detonated and thus creating considerable damage and loss of life.
It was yet another wave of attacks which forced Londoners, who weren’t already homeless, to seek shelter in the Underground while mass destruction continued above ground.
The Underground wasn’t totally safe – it was not without danger of a direct hit, be it in 1940 during the Blitz or in 1944 during the V-2 attacks. Several stations suffered heavy loss of life when bombs strayed from their “intended” military targets to falling on civilian districts.
This report, by correspondent Frank Alban for Los Angeles Radio Station KFI describes life in the Underground to those who were as far as away from the danger as possible during the war, who no doubt would consider it unimaginable to be living in a Subway for some four years, facing the possibilities of an attack at almost any time – and how, incredulously, life carried on.
As a reminder – here is that broadcast of two reports from November-December 1944.