Front Line London

Collection: London Screen Study Collection
ID No.: n/a
Title: Front Line London
Date: 13 July 1944
Film-maker: Pathé
Colour: Black & White
Sound: Sound
Duration of complete item: 3 min. 45 sec.
Themes: Displaced People;
Civil Defence - Civilian Services


A Pathé newsreel report on evacuation and air raid precautions in place in 1944 including air-raid shelters set up in London as a precaution against V1 raids.


The news report opens with images of a V1 bomb in the sky. The commentary introduces this news report with the title "London under the flying bomb" and states that "citizens are both the target and the defenders". 'Bomb spotters' on roof tops sound the alarm and people run to take shelter.

The film then looks at renewed evacuation efforts, showing groups of children getting on trains nicknamed the 'doodlebug express'. Another group of evacuees are filmed in Knutsford getting on to coaches. At an evacuee 'rest centre' the groups of children are seen eating a meal.

Moving to report on eight new deep shelters in London, the film shows scenes of the tunnels which are described as the "last word in design". The sleeping accommodation is shown and the bunks are sprayed as a "precaution against the spreading of infection". The commentary states that the shelter, had built for "the 1940 Blitz days", but had not been used until now. The film goes on to describe the 'luxury' facilities such as air conditioning and comfortable canteens.

The news report moves on show the recovery effort at the Guards Chapel of Wellington Barracks which received a direct hit by a flying bomb . Winston Churchill is filmed examining the scene first hand.


This newsreel report from Pathé sums up many of the procedures being brought in to place in London in response to the use of the new V1 German bombers. These new 'flying bombs' were first used to attack Britain in June 1944 and were nicknamed 'Doodlebugs'. This new form of attack brought about renewed measures to safeguard London - the bomb's key target.

The film focuses on evacuation procedures and the use of air raid shelters in response to the attacks. Children began to be evacuated from city centres at the outbreak of the war in 1939 and again in 1940 when the Blitz began. The V1 bombings in 1944 brought on a further wave of evacuations. The attacks also led to further need for air raid shelters, which led to the opening of some of the deep-level shelters in London, such as the one in this film. These shelters had, until then been mainly used for government and military purposes and not been been opened for public access until the V1 and V2 bomb attacks began.

The film ends with scenes from the devastating V1 attack on the the Guards Chapel of Wellington Barracks in London. The Chapel sustained a high level of casualties from the direct attack as a service was being held on Sunday June 18th 1944.



View this film online
along with thousands of other newsreel films
on the British Pathé website.