Sheffield at War

Archive: Yorkshire Film Archive
ID No.: 2881
Title: Sheffield at War
Date: 1939-1945
Film-maker: Unknown
Colour: Black & White
Sound: Silent
Duration of complete item: 57 min.
Themes: Civil Defence - Civilian Services; Women's Role


A documentary film taken in Sheffield during the Second World War. The film shows the new Home Front services in action and military parades through the city streets. There is also footage of King George VI and Queen Elizabeth being shown around the bomb damage caused by the blitz.


In Sheffield city centre King and Queen walk around with the Mayor and other dignitaries to view the extensive bomb damage. They walk over the rubble, taking in the devastation of the blitz; many members of the public come out to greet them.

The film shows bomb damage to all kinds of buildings, from terraced houses and shops to office buildings and churches. People are seen walking past the remnants of buildings, some with no roofs, others completely devastated and mangled from the bomb damage. A shelter in the street is covered with the rubble, and a group of boys pose for the camera.

In the city centre two members of the ARP (Air Raid Precautions) walk down the street with rattles. This is for a gas attack drill for the people in the city to take part in. A member of the ARP places a smoke canister in the road. All the people now have masks on, another warden stands on the street and rotates his rattle; smoke is billowing around him.

Three ARP wardens are shown in protective rubber suits and gas masks. Another ARP warden in a standard black uniform and white helmet directs the traffic. As the practice ends people start to remove their gas masks. A woman walks past the camera with a shopping basket and holding the hand of a little girl - both wearing gas masks.

At a clearing in the City centre, members of the Women's Auxiliary Air Force (WAAF) operate an anti- barrage balloon. Some of them line up and pose for the camera whilst the balloon is inflated above them. In the countryside Land Girls are shown how to tend vegetables. Back in Sheffield a military parade takes place, lead by a brass band. Many tanks go down the street and people gather to watch. Home Guard drills are carried out in bombed out areas of the city. The men set up machine guns in buildings overlooking vulnerable areas where the enemy might strike.


As a major industrial city, Sheffield was a key target for bombing raids during the Blitz. The city suffered severe damage and casualties during the bomb attacks of December 1940. In this film we see the damaged buildings as well as the visit by the King and Queen to the devastated city.

The Civil Defence services played an important part in the recovery operation after the Blitz. The film also shows some of the precautions taken to protect the city's population by members of the ARP and Home Guard against potential gas attacks and enemy invasion.

Gas masks had been issued by the government to the population in the run up to the war and the public were urged to practice wearing them regularly to familiarise themselves with 'the drill'. In this film, the ARP exercise involves shoppers and drivers in the city centre attempting to continue as normal during a staged attack.

Some key women's roles in the war effort are also illustrated in the film, including members of the Women's Land Army working on a farm and women operating a Barrage Balloon facility in the city. Large Barrage Balloons were used to deter low level air attacks and many of these balloon sites around the country were operated by the Women's Auxiliary Air Force (WAAF).

Sheffield at War (1939-1945)

Sheffield at War (1939-1945)

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