This Friday marks the 78th anniversary of the start of the Blitz, the bombing raids against London and other British cities by Nazi Germany during World War II. From 7 September 1940, London was systematically bombed by the Luftwaffe for 56 out of the following 57 days and nights.
The term Blitz came from the German word “blitzkrieg,” meaning “lightning war.” The British lacked effective antiaircraft artillery and searchlights, as well as night fighters that could find and shoot down an aircraft in darkness.
Civil defence measures, to protect the British people, were far from adequate in the early stages of the battle. The government had not adopted the idea of building large shelters to protect the public from bombardment (as the Germans had done) instead they relied on semiprivate initiatives, such as the inadequate Anderson family shelters.
Eventually, with much reluctance, the tunnels within the underground railway system were made available to the people of London as an air-raid shelters, a decision that ultimately saved thousands of lives.
The stoical manner in which the people of Britain, especially in London, endured the Blitz made a deep impression. The radio broadcasts of U.S. journalist Ed Murrow helped persuade the U.S. public that Britain was not a beaten nation and would continue the fight against Nazi Germany.
The Blitz came to an effective close in May 1941 when Hitler decided to invade the Soviet Union, but did not have the resources to fight a war on two fronts.
Let’s raise a glass to celebrate the wartime spirit. So “make do and mend”, “keep calm and carry on”, and know “your courage, your cheerfulness, your resolution, will be victory”.
Recreate the wartime glamour of 1940s London, with Victory curled lasses and uniformed soldiers, land girls and home guard, pin-up girls and fly boys, ‘cause the Empire needs you.
Creating a great Blitz Cocktail Party is all about creation the right atmosphere.
When your friends arrive, walking past piled up sandbags, maybe at the front of your house or maybe down the hallway of your apartment, is a great way to start setting the mood. Once inside, union jack bunting strung up around the room, copies of a few of the old propaganda slogan posters on the walls and a haunting orange-y light, like those that would appear across London due to the fires, would also help.
But ultimately the atmosphere is going to be achieved if everyone gets into the spirit of the event and dress according to the era.
The women looking glamorous as they wear tea dresses and seamed stockings, lips painted bright red and hair carefully pulled into victory rolls. The men dashing in either braces and caps, or the military uniforms of either the army, navy or airforce.
A nice touch is to give everyone a ration card at the beginning of the night that outlines the drinks that are available and has a little tear out section that they can present when they come to the bar for a drink.
There are a number of truly tasty cocktails from the era, like the classic Sidecar or a French 75, that you could choose but to keep it better in line with the theme, we suggest something like the Cognac Sour, The Spitfire. (Now for some reason, there are ingredients listed on the screen that have nothing to do with the drink, so ignore those
We also rather like the very tasty Army & Navy, which is one cocktail that will certainly encourage you to enlist.
Now while we always encourage that every cocktail party should have food (after all, a good host always practices responsible service) this os not a party where you go all out. Realistically, to be even vaguely authentic, you have two things working against you. Firstly, there was food rationing and secondly, we are talking about mid-century British food.
To our mind, nothing is more English, or of the time, than than Finger Sandwiches or Tea Sandwiches and here is how you make a mice selection of them
And nothing could be better than a good English scone (interestingly, both these videos of tradition English foods are presented by Americans)
If you are unsure what you’ll talk about, then we have a few articles that can provide some fun facts for you and your guests.
40 fascinating facts about one of the most stirring episodes in British history
What life was like during the London Blitz
And to see it from the other side … Horrors of WW2 Lancaster bombing raid brought to life in amazing virtual reality
Rare Photos of Bomb Shelters From World War II
Never closed, never CLOTHED: How legendary World War 2 Soho venue, The Windmill, sailed close to the wind