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The Spirit of the Blitz

(212 Posts)
Chickenkatsu Wed 21-Aug-19 15:47:04

Fourth, our willingness to “keep calm and carry on” will be much less than was the case in 1939 or 1914. We are not at war. We are divided among ourselves. Our government is representative of an extreme, not of a broad national coalition. Half the country expects Brexit to be painless or quickly beneficial. The other half sees it as a self-inflicted wound. Neither of these constituencies seems likely to put up with much pain for the good of the cause.

OP’s posts: |
MockersthefeMANist Wed 21-Aug-19 16:21:22

My grandparents told me all about the blitz. Down on the platform of Clapham Common tube station, the people were tired, scared and very angry. The person they hated most was Hitler, closely followed by Churchill.

Songsofexperience Wed 21-Aug-19 16:34:11

No blitz spirit in sight. I'm in an EU country today, waiting at the airport for my flight back. There was a Brit earlier sat next to me chatting to a local colleague. Inevitably the brexit question popped up. The Brit just typically answered: I don't watch the news anymore, it's too negative. I keep hoping it won't be a disaster.
What sort of "let's pull up our sleeves and work together" spirit do you think there will be? I see only bitterness and resentment. We as a people are being abused. On a large scale.

BrexitBingoGenerator Wed 21-Aug-19 16:40:16

Blitz spirit was a myth- violent crime went up, people stayed in their homes to avoid their stuff being looted.

bellinisurge Wed 21-Aug-19 16:41:17

My Remain voting 86 year old mum (since died herself) had an uncle who was posthumously decorated for bravery for his work as a firefighter in the Coventry Blitz. He died that night on duty saving lives.
Really old people who were adults or teens in the war know what it was like. Children were shielded from the worst of it and baby boomers were brought up on a diet of uplifting films about what the USA calls the golden generation.
One of the two times I've ever seen my mum cry - the other was when her own mum died - was watching a documentary about the Coventry Blitz and she remembered the night her family were told what had happened. They were Irish, btw.

howwudufeel Wed 21-Aug-19 16:43:39

Nice bit of history being rewritten there BrexitBingoGenerator

Songsofexperience Wed 21-Aug-19 16:54:42

History is a matter of perspective. The same event looks very different depending on who remembers it. Dunkirk is a great example: a matter of national pride for Brits, a terrible betrayal as seen from the French side.

BrexitBingoGenerator Wed 21-Aug-19 16:58:47

Well, I don’t know the exact statistics but it’s true that the blitz was a time of abject terror and real fear that society was on the brink of complete breakdown. There was an excellent set of films on the bbc last year (I think it was just called Blitz) that brought to life both the protracted terror and total government incompetence brought about by prolonged bombing - it was utterly heartbreaking and it makes me so angry that people bandy this phrase about so flippantly with regard to Brexit as if it’s something to savour.

howwudufeel Wed 21-Aug-19 17:06:45

It was definitely a terrible time. My dgrandad was there. The Blitz spirit was coined because the government expected people to go to pieces when the bombing started. They made contingency plans including opening specialist hospital wards to cope with civilians who were suffering mental health problems because of the stress. To everyone’s surprise those plans weren’t needed because ordinary people just got on with their lives (this is fact not opinion). A modern day comparison would be when a terrible attribute occurs on the tube but people return using it soon afterwards.

Steamfan Wed 21-Aug-19 17:07:57

I go as a performer to a lot of WW2 events, and there have certainly been more anti EU people at them. This weekend my DH was told "Well we won the war" - and he told them that there were a great many other countries involved. He also pointed them in the direction of a plate of basic rations - "do you want to put up with that?" The two slices of bacon for a week came as a terrible shock. People have no idea. This is a different world, the nostalgia for Mrs Miniver is false.

FaFoutis Wed 21-Aug-19 17:08:14

History is rewritten all the time, that's the nature of the subject.

I agree that the blitz spirit is largely a myth. It's propaganda, as is obvious from the way it is still being used.

howwudufeel Wed 21-Aug-19 17:09:36

It isn’t a myth. As I have said the country was expected to suffer a mental health crisis, which didn’t happen.

FaFoutis Wed 21-Aug-19 17:11:30

How do you know a mental health crisis didn't happen?
Read some Mass Observation and you might have a different view on that.

BogglesGoggles Wed 21-Aug-19 17:12:20

I think you misunderstand the phrases. Keep calm and carry on and blitz spirit both literally refer to keeping calm and carrying on. No particular solidarity is necessary, just resilience. I have no doubt that many in this country are just looking for an excuse to give up and will use brexit but most of us do just carry on, what other option is there?

howwudufeel Wed 21-Aug-19 17:13:10

Prove to me that it did happen. The breakdown in British morale did not happen, despite the relentless bombing.

BogglesGoggles Wed 21-Aug-19 17:13:13

@FaFoutis I think she means mental health in the sense that was meant back then not now.

BrexitBingoGenerator Wed 21-Aug-19 17:13:46

@howwudufeel a lot of people probably were busy getting on with their lives but at the same time increasingly stricken by the prospect of continued bombing and possible invasion by the nazis. It’s true that children would have needed fed and life would be going on, but I don’t think you can easily say that people just ‘got on with their lives’ without it being in their minds. I would imagine that it probably defined pretty much everything they did and thought about for a long time afterwards.

howwudufeel Wed 21-Aug-19 17:17:10

The bombing didn’t create the mass panic, psychiatric breakdowns, absenteeism from work and so forth that had been predicted.

BrexitBingoGenerator Wed 21-Aug-19 17:19:00

I also think it’s important to stress that what defines a ‘mental health crisis’ in 1940 probably differs from how we would observe it now. I imagine people suffered from catastrophic mental and emotional damage but that it wasn’t as Acceptable to discuss and recognise as it is now.

FaFoutis Wed 21-Aug-19 17:19:22

What are the signs of a breakdown in morale? People have no choice but to carry on. People carried on in Germany too, despite worse bombing and conditions, would you call that a blitz spirit?
This national myth is a damaging thing. Frightened British people are no different to any other frightened people.

howwudufeel Wed 21-Aug-19 17:19:54


FaFoutis Wed 21-Aug-19 17:22:40

Yes Brexit mental illness carried a huge stigma and resulted in people being put in asylums for many years. Shellshock had not resulted in any advance in mental health treatments. If you read Mass Observation diaries you can see it, but it was kept hidden - understandably.

You could also ask babyboomers - how did their parents seem to them?

MockersthefeMANist Wed 21-Aug-19 17:22:44

So much was a propaganda creation of the time. All those people standing in the rubble of what used to be their homes shaking their fists at Churchill. I'll give you a clue, they weren't shouting Go On Winnie, You Give 'Em Hell.

orangeshoebox Wed 21-Aug-19 17:23:09

not to mention food rationing and culling of pets...

howwudufeel Wed 21-Aug-19 17:25:51

Shellshock is something completely different. That relates to soldiers who were on the frontline. The Blitz Spirit (so-called) is a home front term.

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