Family history website Ancestry has commissioned a new series of artworks to mark the 80th anniversary of the start of the Blitz on 7 September.


The 80 pieces of artwork were created by 33 British artists using mediums ranging from digital illustrations to oil paintings.

Each one is inspired by a real-life story of an individual in wartime Britain, found in Ancestry’s online records.

Russell James, family history expert at Ancestry, said: “By preserving these stories in a new and engaging way, we hope we can shine a light on what our families went through during that time and encourage people now to discover their connection to The Blitz and World War II.’’

The new collection was inspired by the War Artists Advisory Committee (WAAC) which was established at the start of the war by the UK Government’s Ministry of Information.

By the end of the war in 1945, the artists had created 5,570 pieces representing wartime Britain.

The Ancestry artworks depict stories from cities around the country.

One artwork by Michael Snodgrass depicts Muguette Hands, a 17-year-old telephonist with the Auxiliary Fire Service in Coventry.

During an air raid on 8-9 April 1941, she remained at her post until communication failed, and then took it upon herself to cater for the fire crews as they returned and stoke up the fires to provide them with hot showers.

The Ancestry records show that she was awarded a Civil Defence Gallantry Award for her “outstanding example of coolness and devotion to duty”.

Another artwork by Anna Marrow depicts 40-year-old James Shum Cox.

Formerly a librarian at the University of Bristol, Cox was on duty as an Air Raid Precautions guard during an air raid in December 1940.

On his way to the university he met an old lady who told him she had an incendiary bomb in her house.

Cox extracted the bomb and broke the window to throw it out, suffering burns and cuts to both hands.

He then went on to the university, where he was responsible for subduing a fire on the university library roof.

All the artworks are available to view on Ancestry’s website.


Rosemary Collins is the staff writer of Who Do You Think You Are? Magazine