8 May 2010

Wales and Other Myths

I've just channel surfed. This is Very Unusual for me. Having worked in telly I long ago lost interest in watching any television that wasn't sci-fi, historical or a rocking good film. This is a shame because in this unusual bout of channel surfing I came across a Channel 4 series called Blitz Street and discovered that the current episode was the penultimate in a short series about life in Britain during the Blitz.

I mention this because, as I peruse other vintage blogs, I've discovered that there are many bloggers who not only talk about vintage and fashion but also about politics, history and feminism. In contrast I feel incredibly shallow and self-absorbed. I'm more likely to talk about shoes than politics, particularly if they're pretty. Same principle regarding my multiple TV boyfriends (but that's a whole other post). I'm shallow, and I'm obviously not so ashamed by this that I won't admit it. Thankfully, what I am not is easy, which is a small redeeming feature in the vast sea of my slightly contradictory personality (especially since Office have a bunch of yummy shoes that are vastly out of my unemployed price range).

I am fascinated by history, I like the individual stories rather than the vast overreaching monologues that get taught in school. The two World Wars are particularly interesting to me, possibly because they're still within living memory and the 40's - in particular - are an era, fashion-wise, that I love. Life during this time was like no other, for good and for bad.

So often you hear of the Blitz and London. Admittedly, London suffered horrifically from Hitler's bombing. Particularly once the V1 was introduced just after D Day. Don't know about the V1? It was 200 kilos of destructive terror. Hitler's first weapon of mass destruction, a jet powered bomb that flew, pilotless, to it's destination and then blew everything up. This was a bomb so powerful that the shockwave alone could kill you. Barrage balloons were useless against them as they came equipped with wire cutters. Ground to air guns were not getting the job done. The RAF were charged with stopping the threat any way they could, but Spitfire pilots realised that whilst shooting them down would often blow up the bomb, chances were you'd blow yourself up too. They went back to the drawing board and came up with the craziest plan. Evah. They would fly in close formation with the V1, put their wing under the wing of the bomb which would create a pressure pad between the two, allowing them to roll it. Once it began rolling its onboard gyro's crashed and the V1 fell out of the sky. If they could intercept them early enough they could force them to crash (and explode) in unpopulated areas.

What doesn't seem to be so widely talked about is that London wasn't the only place targeted. Hitler had previously set his sights on destroying ports in an effort to starve Britain out of the war once he realised that bombing London with his SC series bombs wasn't doing the job. Britain was taking everything he could throw at it and still refusing to give in (we're stubborn like that). With the introduction of the V1, various ports around the country were again targeted, as were areas of significant industry. Places as far north as Aberdeen were bombed by the V1. In Manchester, Liverpool and Bristol alone 7,500 fatalities were recorded. Swansea and Cardiff were both bombed, for their ports and their mining industry. The people who lived in my village could see the explosions lighting up the sky behind the mountain.

{ Source: Living Mags }
Pantback Road, Cardiff

Which brings me to the point of this particular post (I bet you were wondering). I've long been curious about the effect the war had on life in South Wales and, in particular, the village I'm living in. I know that the viaduct that used to cross the valley was destroyed by the local government, I can only assume it was in order to reduce the risk of bombing as it used to take coal from the mines to the ports. But it is exactly this sort of information I want to find out. The houses here have been through two World Wars, the rise and fall of the coal industry, six monarchs (um .. Victoria, Edward, George, another Edward, another George and finally Elizabeth) and local youths setting fire to anything and everything. So I want to do some digging, I'm going to start with the local library. Programmes to research are The Coal House At War by BBC Wales, a social experiment where a three families were off to live life as it was in a mining community during 1944, air raids included (and as someone who's been woken up at 3am by an air raid siren I feel for these people). 1940's House has also been mentioned and is one I shall be trying to get my hands on.

But in the meantime I'm going to take advantage of 4oD and watch the previous three episodes of Blitz Street!

Thanks for stopping by,


Post a Comment

All comments are moderated and your comment will appear shortly. Thank you for taking the time to leave me a message, it's very much appreciated.

Popular Posts