The East End played a significant role in World War II and visitors to the Museum of London Docklands can usually explore this astonishing history from the first night of the Blitz to the devastation that was left in its wake.
However, with the doors to the museum physically closed, the Museum of London Docklands are now releasing a number of images from its ‘Docklands at War’ gallery to commemorate VE Day on Friday 8 May along with additional exclusive content from the collection rarely on display for visitors to honour the day from home.
These images show the scale of the damage and destruction caused to London’s docks but also the remarkable contribution to the war effort by the people who lived and worked in the area.
During World War II, the dockyards and riverside factories in the East End of London played a significant role in the war. However, these industrial capabilities meant it also bore the brunt of enemy attack.
London’s docks were the main target, with over 25,000 German bombs falling on the Docklands over the course of the war. This area of the city was key in supplying vital goods and services to the rest of the country. By destroying the docks, it was believed that you could severely hamper not just the local but the national economy and weaken British war production. The East End was also densely populated with many factory workers, dockers and their families living in the area for work. With sustained attacks on this local population, the Germans aimed to dampen the spirits and morale of civilians, in turn reducing support for the war.
By the end of World War II, the damage to the East End left much of the area in ruins. Tens of thousands of homes were uninhabitable, businesses were destroyed, and a third of the Port of London’s docks were decimated with West India Docks and St Katherine Docks suffering most of the damage.
To discover more visit https://www.museumoflondon.org.uk/museum-london-docklands
Photo credit: PLA Collection / Museum of London