Sunday, June 24, 2012

World War II posters and drawings from Britain

These World War II posters and sketches from Britain's National Archives plunge us directly into their wartime experience, where the outcome was far from certain and daily life was rife with danger and privation. From a collection of 350 artworks newly digitized in high resolution (thanks to a grant from Wikimedia), their purpose was threefold:  propaganda, information, and morale boosting. This first group is of the "loose lips sink ships" ilk.
Among the inspirational images are depictions of food production and a drawing by Clive Uptton titled "War Effort: The will to win" that one can only gawp at. (I wonder where this was  disseminated?!)
Among the most artistic images are these intensely vivid and beautifully rendered scenes of battle.

This next grouping shows Princess Elizabeth, Churchill, and a member of the Women's Royal Naval Service (WRNS or "Wrens").

 Finally, these posters attempt to influence  behavior.

For actual "you are there" photographs of soldiers in various theaters during the war, have a look at The U.S. Army in World War II: The Stories Behind the Photos.


  1. Awesome. I did my thesis paper in grad school on food rationing in UK both during and after the war.

  2. I would love to know more ... from the films I've seen it was pretty intense.

  3. Very interesting to see wartime posters from a country other than the U.S.

    1. It's interesting to see wartime posters without Uncle Sam!!

  4. I have to say I'm a sucker for old propaganda posters, largely due in part to the absurdity of these wartime signs, happy faces going to war, morale boosting, national pride, all the while the horrors and bloodshed of the battle, are nowhere in sight.

  5. Did you read Night Watch by Sarah Waters? The novel focuses on several women who stayed in London during the Blitz driving ambulances and so forth.