Yorkshire Film Archive


Second World War Collection

The Yorkshire Film Archive holds many examples of life on the home front across the region during the Second World War. As well as newsreels, documentaries and information films, the Archive holds several amateur collections recording military, civilian, community and family life during the period from 1939 – 1945. These films often give a personal perspective on the direct impact the war had on local communities, and on the everyday lives of the families featured in the films.

The collections include films recording the build up to the war, with anti-war demonstrations and Peace Marches through the streets of Sheffield in the late 1930s. During the course of the war Sheffield was heavily targeted by German bombing raids and suffered enormous damage, as did several other large towns and cities in Yorkshire, including Leeds and Hull. Several films show the devastation caused by the bombings, the resilience of the people trying to continue to live and work through the Blitz, and the morale boosting visits of King George V and Queen Elizabeth to the region.

Many of the children from these towns and cities were evacuated to the countryside, and the film collections also document life in smaller rural communities such as Malton, North Yorkshire, where many families welcomed evacuees from Hull and Middlesborough, and life long friendships were formed.

Many of the films at the Yorkshire Film Archive illustrate the changes and challenges women faced during the Second World War, often taking on new jobs in munitions factories, joining the ATS to man gun-sites, or supporting the war effort through the work of the Red Cross, or the Land Army. For men on the home front, films such as Formation of the Thornton Home Guard, Bradford show men of all ages coming together to train and prepare for what was a very real threat of invasion.

Many local fund-raising efforts across the region were captured by local film makers. Films recording events such as ‘Warships Week’ and ‘Wings for Victory’ demonstrate the spirit of people coming together, in spite of rationing and difficult personal circumstances, to raise money for the construction of new planes and ships.

As the war came to an end several film makers recorded the V.E Day and V.J. Day celebrations in their own local communities, from the official speeches and Declaration of Peace to the jubilance of the crowds, with dancing, festivities, and children’s parties.

After the war the re-building of our towns and cities began, and the Archive holds several collections which document the region in the immediate aftermath of the Second World War.

Today, film-makers in Yorkshire are recording the reminiscences of some of the Veterans of the Second World War, and made Yorkshire their home in the post war years. These films will be cared for by the Yorkshire Film Archive, and made permanently accessible so that people can continue to learn from, and enjoy these personal records. We are grateful to all our depositors who have agreed to open up their film collections, and share their memories, for the benefit of future generations.

The extracts shown on this site are just a few examples of the films held at the Yorkshire Film Archive from the Second World War period. Contact the archive to find out more.