Horrible Histories: Blitzed Brits

11 Jul 2015 — 10 Apr 2016 at Imperial War Museum North in Manchester, United Kingdom

Two small girls waving their flags to celebrate the end of the war in the rubble of Battersea on VE Day
Two small girls waving their flags to celebrate the end of the war in the rubble of Battersea on VE Day
9 JUL 2015

Could you dispose of a live bomb with a hammer? Would you eat breakfast cooked in a frying pan made from a crashed aeroplane?

Seventy-five years ago, Britain faced one of the greatest dangers in its history – the Blitz.

Now, to mark the anniversary, IWM North, part of Imperial War Museums, in Manchester has teamed up with Horrible Histories® to reveal some of the terrible truths behind this catastrophic conflict.

See the flag from the plane of British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain, who flew to meet German leader Adolf Hitler in Munich in 1938 and thought he had secured ‘peace for our time’. Then discover how wrong he was.

Displaying the cigarette lighter that saved the life of an Air Raid warden; a torch found by medics in the Houses of Parliament on the night they were bombed; a previously unseen target map showing locations the Nazis wanted to destroy; and remarkable true stories of the real Dad’s Army – this is a major new interactive exhibition for families.

Personal stories and more than 200 objects, photographs, art works, film clips and sound recordings from IWM’s unrivalled national collections reveal how, for the first time, the Blitz brought the war to the doorsteps of everyone in Britain. Discover the dramatic deeds and surprising stories behind extraordinary objects.

The free Horrible Histories®: Blitzed Brits exhibition is based on the words of author Terry Deary, with new illustrations by Horrible Histories’ chief drawer Martin Brown.

Immerse yourself in the horrible home front as you stumble through a blackout, climb under the kitchen table Morrison shelter and step outside the 1940s house to milk a cow like an evacuee. Pick up a survival guide and begin your journey through the Blitz. How steady is your hand - can you defuse the bomb in time? Cover your ears and hold your nose as you peak into a 1940s toilet and sniff your way through stinky smells, from pig bins to ration stew. Then create your own rotten recipes from wartime ingredients.

Discover what job you would have been given in wartime Britain. Take our test to discover how squeamish you are, then take the plunge as you step into the uniforms - from the ARP Warden to the Women’s Land Army.

Be inspired by stories such as Charity Bick – the bicycle dispatch rider braving the bombs to deliver messages – and jump on a bike to deliver a message as fast as you can. Can you reach your destination faster than the pigeon? Explore some of the most unusual objects in IWM’s collections. Would your dog enjoy spending the night in a gas proof metal kennel?

Hear the first-hand accounts of evacuated children separated from their parents for the first time and discover the stories of ordinary people who stayed in the cities under the constant threat as you discover the resilience and inventiveness of the Blitz spirit.

Find out more at iwm.org.uk or connect with @IWMNorth #BlitzedBrits on Twitter or Facebook.com/iwm.north

This IWM North exhibition has been created with Horrible Histories in partnership with Scholastic Children’s Books.

Horrible Histories®: Blitzed Brits is supported by The Little Greene Paint Company, Manchester Airports Group and The Oglesby Charitable Trust.

Private James Bubear, Berkshire Home Guard, 1941, said: ‘[The Home Guard] must know how to deal with paratroopers, angry wives, how to camouflage their position from air observation, how to use natural cover (sometimes at home), how to move unseen and unheard (sometimes through the back entrance of the local), how to crawl on a middle aged tummy through undergrowth, ploughed fields, and railway lines, and how to convert themselves from a clerk, shopkeeper or mechanic, who wouldn’t hurt a fly in the daytime, to a bloody assassin with a dagger at night.’