Second World War – The British Newspaper Archive Blog

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A Gift of Warfare – The History of Plastic Surgery

‘Plastic surgery, born in one war and perfected in another,’ had been practiced before the First World War, but it took this global conflict, and a second one, to develop plastic surgery as we know it today. The Sphere | 20 May 1933 In this special blog, using newspapers taken from The Archive, we will trace the development of plastic surgery, from the work of Harold Gillies in the First World War, to its move into the cosmetic mainstream in the

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Hot Off The Press – New Titles This Week

Fresh from celebrating our ninth birthday on Sunday, and the landmark of reaching 40 million pages last week, the presses have continued to whir here at the British Newspaper Archive. This week we have added 47,958 new pages to our collection, with one regional title receiving particularly special attention. Register now and explore the Archive Receiving the ‘special treatment’ this week is the Leicester Evening Mail, to which we have added the years 1931 to 1949. 1931 was an important year in the history of this

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‘Make-Do Make-Up’ – Makeup During the Second World War

Flung into new roles in the armed services and other industries, their home life turned upside down during blackouts and air raids, how did women use makeup during the Second World War? In this our fourth and final blog looking at the history of makeup, we delve into how makeup was used during the Second World War. The Sketch | 5 June 1940 Using pages taken from the British Newspaper Archive, we will discover how women in the three branches of

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‘The Feathered Battalions’ – The Brave Pigeons of Wartime

Every Army, Air Force, Navy and Secret Service in the world has its feathered battalions, and when the story of the war is written finally it will be found that many a battle has been won, many a ship preserved and many a life saved through the help of the feathered soldiers. These were the words of Victor Newton as he wrote for the Aberdeen Press and Journal in 1943, describing ‘how pigeons play their part in war.’ And so, in this

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Brave Dogs and Cats of the British Newspaper Archive – ‘An Example to Human Beings’

This month at the British Newspaper Archive we are celebrating all things pet related – and what better way to start than by taking a special look at some of the bravest cats and dogs that we have found in the pages of our newspapers? Irma the Alastian receives the Dickin Medal for rescue work during the Blitz | Illustrated London News | 20 January 1945 From the role that dogs played on the European front during the First World War, and

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Women and the Second World War

Continuing our commemoration of the 75 years since VE-Day, in this special blog we explore the vital role that women played throughout the course of the Second World War. In 1939, for a second time in just over twenty years, Britain found itself embroiled in an international conflict, and women stepped forward to work in civil defence, armed forces, and industry.  Unlike any other country, for the first time, British women were conscripted into service.  On 18 December 1941, the

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Bonfires and Prayers – Headlines from VE Day, 8 May 1945

This month marks the 75th anniversary of VE Day – the day that peace in Europe was finally declared. After nearly six years of conflict – how did the newspapers of the time report the momentous news? How did the people of Britain react? Gloucestershire Echo | 8 May 1945 Using the front pages from the 8 May 1945, VE Day itself, we take a step back in time to discover just how the joyous news spread, and how it was

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The Murder of Countess Teresa Lubienska – An Unsolved Underground Mystery

Reading like a 1950s noire novel, or a Cold War thriller from the pen of John le Carré, the murder of Polish aristocrat Countess Teresa Lubienska on the platform of Gloucester Road Underground station shocked the nation, and provoked a massive man hunt that saw 18,000 people interviewed over the following months. Belfast Telegraph | 25 May 1957 Using contemporary articles found in the British Newspaper Archive, we explore the circumstances of Countess Lubienska’s murder, the possible motives behind her killing,

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The Blitz and The London Underground – Safety Beneath the Streets in the Second World War

When the Blitz began on 7 September 1940, ‘It was the people of London who took command…Men, women, and children went straight to the safest place they could think of – the Underground stations.’ In this special blog, over 80 years after the beginning of the Blitz, we take a look at how London’s main transport system – the Underground –  became a popular place of shelter for those seeking protection from the German bombing campaign, using an assortment of

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Dance in the Second World War – An Extravagance of Determination and Hope

‘It is not proposed to make total war total misery,’ said the Home Secretary Herbert Morrison in 1942, as he announced in the House of Commons that dancing was not to be included in the ‘recreations that are to be restricted to prevent interference with the war effort.’ Indeed, for many, dance was synonymous with their experiences of life in the Second World War. American GIs brought over with them new and exciting dance styles, and dancing itself was a

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