Over the coming months, a series of captivating images of the people and places in Islington and Finsbury during the Second World War will be shared; shedding light on the hardships endured and perseverance demonstrated by those that lived through this historic time. Each week, We’ll Meet Again, will explore a key theme from topics such as evacuations, shelters, bomb damage, the Home Front and Victory in Europe. The first week introduces this exhibition and provides context to the situation faced on the Home Front between 1939-1945.
We’ll Meet Again portrays the daily sacrifice and determination of the people of Islington and Finsbury, and how they ‘kept calm and carried on’ during these six historic years.
Cllr Asima Shaikh, executive member for inclusive economy and jobs at Islington Council, said:
“At this time of national crisis, this online exhibition reminds us that as a community we can all do our bit to overcome the challenges we face.
"We are extremely grateful for the brave and steadfast work of all those who helped get us through World War II and those who are working tirelessly to get us through these difficult times.
“This is an excellent exhibition which will help provide an inspiring and educational connection to residents of all generations."
The Second World War was a conflict fought on several fronts. Not only was victory secured by the forces fighting on the front line, but also by the people they left behind on the ‘Home Front’.
This experience between 1939 and 1945 was unique in British history. Twelve million British families fought their own battle, including those in Islington and Finsbury, who went without all but the most basic necessities. Civilians, alongside men and women in the armed forces not posted aboard, endured the hardships and sudden dangers in what also became known as the ‘people’s war’.
Aspects of the Home Front were common to all: rationing, the blackout and, more terrifyingly, enemy air raids and the threat of untimely death. It was to prove a long period of regulation and shortage, uncertainty, boredom, fear and anxiety, but also a time of dramatic change. Children were evacuated, men and women conscripted into the forces or directed into essential war work, homes disrupted and lives were put on hold for an indefinite duration. Those not called to the armed forces helped the country in many ways: Civil Defence, the Women’s Voluntary Service, working in munitions factories, digging for victory, raising money for the ‘war effort’, or simply making a contribution by remaining cheerful and ‘making do’.
With its title taken from one of the most famous songs of the war, and sung by Vera Lynn, We’ll Meet Again, portrays Islington and Finsbury’s home-front experience during these six historic years. Like many parts of inner London, the area suffered badly from bombings during the Blitz from 1940-41, and as part of the V1 and V2 rocket attacks on the capital from the summer of 1944. However, in spite of increasing fatalities and an uncertain future and hardship, local residents on the Home Front kept ‘calm and carried on’.
Upon the 75th anniversary of the end of the Second World War in Europe, this online photographic exhibition commemorates all who bravely endured life on the Home Front in Islington and Finsbury and beyond.