On a delightful excursion to Hartlepool, earlier this year, I spotted this beautiful hardback book compiled by Robert Opie. It is a fantastic 60-page journey through almost every aspect of the war told through wartime memorabilia. Every page is packed with information in the form of photographs and subjects which range from anything from Black-Outs to Barrage Balloons. I think this is a very effective way of learning about history, and I love the fact that so much time could be spent enjoying a single page: there is just so much to see.
In his introduction to this scrapbook, Robert Opie reflects on the wartime togetherness and describes the humour which lasted right through the war, aimed mainly at Hitler and the Natzis. I was quite surprised at the level the Brits went to, mocking their enemies. Merchandise flew of the shelves – a book called Adolf in Blunderland by James Dyrenforth and Mark Kester appeared, Dart Boards featuring Hitler were produced and most amusingly, in my opinion, an ash tray showing Hitler’s face, captioned ‘Drop Your Ashes on the Old ‘Nasty’.
I don’t know about anyone else, but I have always been fascinated by the prospect of Black-Outs in the war. I was first introduced to the subject at an early age through a short story by Enid Blyton called They Showed a Light. It was a lovely little story about a neighbor who forgot to black out their windows on the night of a party, and a young, uninvited boy reminded them and was, conclusively accepted into the party. Anyway, since reading this story I have been captivated by the subject. A lot of merchandise seemed to associate black-outs with the line: “They Can’t Black-Out The Moon” which I think is a lovely little line.
Despite the stringent rationing regulations which came about, there still seemed to be a wide interest in fashion during the war. Several pages of this scrapbook are dedicated to leaflets advertising clothing and sewing patterns which I found very interesting.
It was also interesting looking at the page of old food packing which was known in the wartime. I enjoyed recognizing certain brands which are still widely known to this day including: Kelloggs, Persil, Oxo and Weetabix! But of course, a lot of these luxuries wouldn’t have been available to many households in the war.
And finally, I suppose a lot of the avid readers, reading this will be wondering what people read during the war. Well, here is a page displaying popular magazines: