Taking shelter in the Underground stations wasn’t a great experience. Early in the Blitz there were few sanitary facilities and people who lived through the era often write about the stench of underground stations.
SHELTER PHOTOGRAPHS TAKEN IN LONDON BY BILL BRANDT, NOVEMBER 1940 (D 1568) Elephant and Castle London Underground Station Shelter: People sleeping on the crowded platform of Elephant and Castle tube station while taking shelter from German air raids during the London Blitz. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205194638
While no more than 3% of Londoners used the tube stations as bomb shelters, photographs such as these became iconic images showing the determination of Londoners not to let the Nazis break their will.
SHELTER PHOTOGRAPHS TAKEN IN LONDON BY BILL BRANDT, NOVEMBER 1940 (D 1571) Elephant and Castle Underground Station Shelter: The station performs a dual wartime role: travellers enter a train while, in the foreground, other Londoners attempt to sleep. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205194641
(The sign in the window to the right of the tube car door informs passengers that this is a non-smoking car. In 1940)
THE LONDON UNDERGROUND AS AIR RAID SHELTER, LONDON, ENGLAND, 1940 (D 1677) One of London’s most popular shelters is that which is to be found in a section of the London underground system which has been converted by tearing up the tracks. The advertisements remain pasted on the wall. Hats and coats are hung on nails which have been driven in between the bricks on the wall. People sleep on the platform and on the space which was formerly the track, this part stretching fo… Copyright: © IWM. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205221918
This is probably a section of the Picadilly Line which was no longer in use when the war began.
THE LONDON UNDERGROUND AS AIR RAID SHELTER, LONDON, ENGLAND, 1940 (D 1678) Shelterers sleep along the walls of the passageway leading from the lifts to the platform at a London Underground station, probably Aldwych, in November 1940. The shelterers lie on thin mattresses and suitcases have been used to partition off areas along the tunnel to provide some privacy for shelterers. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205197856
ENSA group entertains people sheltering in the London Underground during the Blitz.
Similar in function to the American USO, ENSA stood for Entertainments National Service Association. This group but on programs of every sort for British and Commonwealth troops. British Tommies referred to it as: “Every Night Something Awful.” (Photo Imperial War Musem.