Thursday, 7 March 2013

Keep Calm and Carry On

Anyone here in good old blighty is probably very familiar with the Keep Calm and Carry On slogan.  It can be found on anything from pens to posters, t-shirts to tables (yes, seriously, just take a look here).

The original slogan was created in 1939 when the outbreak of war was unavoidable.  The third in a series of 3 posters, the other two being:

Keep Calm and Carry On was intended to be taken at face value, public information and practical advice for the populous.  A much needed morale booster in the face of great adversity. 

However, contrary to popular belief, the red and white posters that so many people have displayed on their walls were never publically released during the war.  The poster had been kept back, in reserve if you will, only to be used in the event of something like a mass bombing with gas or an actual German invasion.

Although produced in thousands, the posters had very limited distribution.  Post war, the unused posters were destroyed and it wasn't until 2000 that one of the originals was re-discovered in a book shop in Northumberland. 

Anyway, for Valentines Day, Mr Y presented me with a rather marvellous DVD.  So marvellous, in fact, that I feel compelled to share it with you lovely folk.

The DVD in question is Keep Calm and Carry On – News Reports From The British Home Front 1939-1945. 

It contains 3 DVDs which feature 8 hours of viewing pleasure. 

Pathe news reels have been chronologically grouped together to bring you a year by year, month by month account of war related activities that occurred on the home front during the 6 long years of war.  

The DVD starts off in January 1939, and although the outbreak of war was some months away, the rumblings of the impending hostilities are clear.  The introduction of identity cards, gas marks and mass air raid shelters are all featured.  You see women being called to work as light ambulance drivers and bus drivers and the land army, a subject close to my heart, are seen doing their bit. 

You get to watch the ARP, the Home Guard, evacuees and factory workers.  Safety precautions, blackout precautions, busy farmers and numerous spiffing servicemen (and women).  The collection culminates in the VE day celebrations held outside Buckingham Palace with revellers partying until dawn!

I’m fascinated with WW2 home front history and, with my parents being seasoned re-enactors, like to think that I’m pretty knowledgeable about the fashions of the forties.  I have bookshelves positively groaning under the weight of numerous publications, both wartime and current, that have proved invaluable for filling my head with information, but this DVD goes a step further. 

There is nothing like actually seeing what life was truly like.  The ladies in many of the magazines of the time were perfectly turned out, beautifully matched clothing, hair “just so” and of course they had to be because they were keeping morale up.  In contrast, most of the ladies featured in this DVD are, in my opinion, a more accurate depiction of what the wartime woman really looked like.  Hair was not perfect, slacks were worn and not everyone was stick thin!

The DVD was produced by Strike Force entertainment who also do some other great wartime DVD’s, a selection of which can be found here.

For anyone who has an interest in life on the British home front, this is an incredibly informative DVD.  For anyone wanting to accurately portray what life was truly like on the home front, I believe this DVD is a must! 


  1. Did you see my post I did on Tuesday? My grandfather made the CC41 furniture, he was also in the Home Guard too. My husband I have love watching films made during 1930 and 1950, and I have been watching the re-runs of Colditz which Yesterday are running daily, I watched the series first time round in the seventies and also read Pat Reid's book.
    Julie xxxxxxxxx

  2. Oooh that sounds like a really interesting DVD, thanks for the review :-)

  3. I shall have to keep an eye out for that!

  4. Hi! This sounds really interesting and will go on my list of things to buy! Have you seem the film 'A Canterbury Tale'? It is set during the war in rural Kent and is a Powell and Pressburger film made in 1944. It Is a strange and lovely wartime film and if you haven't seen it I think you would like it.

  5. Ps I have been to that bookshop and that was the first I heard of the poster. Now you just can't escape it!

  6. This looks brill, thank you for alerting me to it. I have a DVD which is a collection of original footage all about ladies' fashion and so on, it's really fabulous. Let me know if you are interested and I'll look out the exact title.
    Hen x

  7. Just re-reading my comment it should read 1930 to 1950. The film Sarah speaks of is really good one of our favourites. But the best film of its time is Millions Like Us
    Julie xxxxxxx

  8. Looks great, I'll have a look for that :) x