To mark 80 years since the start of The Blitz, Ancestry, has commissioned a new collection of art depicting life during The Blitz and World War II
The 80 pieces of art, available to view on Ancestry.co.uk/Blitz80, are based on real-life stories discovered in wartime records available on Ancestry and aim to bring to life the extraordinary ‘everyday’ lives and efforts of people all over the country and the British spirit that shone through whilst they lived and served on the home front.
The new collection was inspired by the War Artists Advisory Committee (WAAC) which was established at the outbreak of World War II by the UK Government’s Ministry of Information. Its aim was to compile a comprehensive artistic record of Britain throughout the war and by the end of World War II, included 5,570 pieces. The original records are held at The National Archives, in Kew.
Russell James, Family History expert at Ancestry, said: “As we mark the 80th anniversary of the start of The Blitz, a time of tragedy but also a time that truly demonstrated the great British spirit we wanted to pay tribute to the original War Artists Advisory Committee by adding our own update to this important collection of works with 80 new pieces, each inspired by everyday life during The Blitz and throughout World War II.
“By preserving these stories in a new and engaging way, we hope we can shine a light on what our families went through during that time and encourage people now to discover their connection to The Blitz and World War II.’’
Using artistic mediums ranging from digital illustration to oil painting, 33 artists from around the UK have created contemporary interpretations of records and images. Cardiff based artist, Gareth Brown showcases the story of Miss Celia Jenkins who rescued a woman and man from the burning Blackweir Post Office, Cardiff during the early morning of 18th May 1943. While Sam Dawson re-imagines an image of a party of 300 French boys between the ages of 14 and 17 who were guests of the Boy Scouts Association at a camp in Wales in 1940. Whilst artist, Amy Kate Wolfe also helped bring local stories to life, including a Leap Year Ball organised by Cardiff Royal Infirmary in 1940, where a nurse collects boxes to be used to help the hospital fund as well as the story of two men who rescued five horses belonging to South Great Western Railway as their stable had been ignited.
Dr William Butler, Head of Military Records at The National Archives, said: “This fascinating Ancestry project showcases how our historical collections can inspire in such a variety of ways, and has provided such an impressive breadth of responses. The Civilian Gallantry Award records are a treasure trove of stories, highlighting the incredible and often dangerous work carried out by individuals working as air raid wardens, first aid workers, firewatchers and messengers during the Second World War. They provide vivid details of the exploits and heroic deeds of civilians fighting a war away from the battlefields and highlight the sacrifices so often made on the home front”.
Ancestry.co.uk hosts the UK’s largest online collection of family history documents with more than two billion UK records, helping people uncover the untold personal stories of World War II – from the home front to the front line. The new collection of World War II artwork also comes as Ancestry launches StoryScout®, a new feature which allows users to create an engaging narrative of their ancestor’s life.
For more information about Ancestry’s Blitz art collection and StoryScout, visit www.ancestry.co.uk/Blitz80. To access Ancestry’s records and discover untold personal stories from World War II, visit www.ancestry.co.uk. Keep up to date on social media by following #Blitz80.