The air raids by German Luftwaffe planes on English cities and towns in 1940 and 1941 — attacks known collectively and famously as The Blitz — were terrifying, but they failed in their key aims: namely, to demoralize the British people, and to destroy the UK’s war economy. London, not surprisingly, suffered the brunt of the Blitz: More than a million London houses were ruined or badly damaged, and more than 20,000 civilians were killed in the city alone. (Roughly 40,000 civilians were killed in the whole of England.)
Here, LIFE.com presents color photos taken in London during the war, in tribute to the spirit of Britons who would not be cowed.
|A view of London in 1940, with damage from German bombing raids.|
|A London Civil Defense Rescue crew helps remove injured and dead civilians from buildings after an attack German by a V-1 flying bomb, 1940.|
|Life goes on in London, despite the destruction caused by German air raids, 1941.|
|"The Germans," wrote LIFE in 1941, long before America entered the war, "are said to be greatly puzzled over London's willingness to take continual punishment without so much as a thought to surrender. The British, they think, are licked and refuse to accept the fact. But the British are not by any means licked and if, in the end, they win the war it will be due in no small way to the magnificent way in which the people of London are standing up to the siege.|