This broadcast tried to comfort and inspire listeners facing the terrible bombing raids on London and other cities. Intense bombing of London had started the previous day and was to continue throughout the winter.
At least in this war, civilians were sharing the danger – in a sense, there were no civilians now. In the First World War, civilians had had to wait helplessly at home for news while “whole towns in the North – my own amongst them – lost at a stroke the fine flower of their young manhood”. Priestley’s childhood friends, in the Bradford Pals, died in one battle, the Somme. He felt that “we are much better off now. At least we are sharing such danger as there is”. He admired how people had risen to the challenge, carrying on with their lives in the middle of a battlefield, with the world’s attention on them, and was proud to describe this in his overseas broadcasts.
The image is from Britain under Fire, a Country Life publication, containing over 200 photographs of the damage done to Britain’s historic buildings by the bombers in the winter of 1940-1941. The typography and design of this book is typically 1940s, resembling the Ministry of Information “Keep Calm and Carry On” poster which has seen a recent surge of popularity. The book encapsulates this message: people are seen going about their daily lives amonst the rubble.
Priestley wrote the foreword, emphasising to overseas readers that Britain was not in ruins – everyday life was going on – but the damage had been terrible: “Let the camera tell its twofold story, of a great crime, and of a still greater people”.