Swansea History web. Looking at swansea in the 1941 blitz.

Swansea's Blitz in colour

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These remarkable photographs were probably taken on the Saturday of 22 February 1941. the day after the most devastating series of air raids that destroyed the town centre. The photographer was an amateur from the Llanelli area. Not only was he able to enter the devastated area with a camera but it was loaded with Kodachrome colour film. Official photographs of the damage were taken but these are all in black and white. Being in colour, these images are able to bring home the drama of the devastation in a very different way. Black and white photographs give us a cosy view of history. We are safe in the knowledge that the awful events they often portray are safely in the past. Colour takes away that comfort zone, it could have happened yesterday, and in some parts of the world it still does.
The photographs have the characteristic blue tinge of Kodachrome. Colour film was freely available but it was expensive to process and black and white images were considered more practical. The Germans and Americans took considerable quantities of colour photographs throughout the war, but British examples such as these are comparatively rare.

The photographer apparently managed to get through the bomb damage cordon without being questioned because he would surely have had his camera confiscated. The photos have few people in them. There are a number of reasons for this, most people would have been kept out of the town centre because of the danger of unexploded bombs and falling masonry, also in the immediate aftermath of the raids only the bomb disposal teams of the Royal Engineers would have had free access to the area; two of the photos show military personnel.

We have been able to identify the locations of some of the photos but others were just too lacking in familiar landmarks to identify satisfactorily. Use the links above to view the photographs. Use your back button to return.



Right: The weak February sun reflects off the helmet of a bomb disposal sapper in the aftermath of the bombing.

Swansea History Web. A bomb disposal sapper in Swansea.


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