reporting the blitz

Newspapers were one of the most important forms of media during the Second World War. They allowed people to keep up to date with current events and find out what was happening both at home and overseas. Their production was viewed by the government as ‘a matter of national importance’ due to their key role in sharing ‘information and propaganda’ (O’Malley, 2017, p. 518).

The war fed the public’s appetite for news and newspaper circulations rose by an average of 86.5 per cent between 1937 and 1947 (Hodgson, 2015).

Because newspapers were so prominent in everyday lives, they are of significant historical value. These pages explore the way that the raid on Leeds was reported and compares newspaper report to a personal account from the time.


The rise in newspaper sales between 1937 and 1947.

A note on censorship

British newspapers were censored during the Second World War to prevent information that might be of military significance from being published.

As a result, events would be reported with only limited details. The names of towns and cities were replaced by a description to indicate the area an event took place in. Leeds was referred to as a ‘North East Inland Town’. Precise figures regarding casualties, deaths and the scale of the damage were also withheld to prevent the enemy from finding out whether their attack was a success.

Historians have also suggested that censorship was used to maintain morale by avoiding bad news. This is more controversial, but the government recognised that the war could be lost on the home front as a result of low morale (Gardiner, 2011). Some journalists also admitted to self-censoring reports to avoid questions from the censor (Hodgson, 2015).

The diary we have included would not have been censored, so provides a different representation of what life was like for people living through the Blitz.