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September 13, 2015

Backyard Bunkers of the Blitz: Pictures of How London Families Lived in Their Backyard Bomb Bunkers During WWII

In 1938, with the outbreak of World War II on the horizon, Sir John Anderson was placed in charge of air-raid preparations in Britain. He commissioned engineers to design a cheap and simple shelter which could be distributed to the population. The result: the Anderson Shelter.

Six feet tall, 6.5 feet long, and 4.5 feet wide, the corrugated metal shelters were a snug fit for a family of six. They were buried four feet under owners' yards, their arched roofs covered with a layer of soil.

The shelters were distributed for free to poorer residents. Wealthier residents could purchase one for a small fee. According to Mashable, many chose to incorporate the shelters into their gardens, planting vegetables and flowers on top of them. Residents even held competitions for prettiest shelter.

Air raid shelters under construction at a factory in Newport, Wales. Feb. 23, 1939.

A man puzzles out how to assemble sheets of corrugated iron into an Anderson air raid shelter in his backyard, 1939.

Pig iron is piled on top of an Anderson air raid shelter to test its efficiency and strength, 1939.

Neighbors assemble Anderson shelters in their backyards, 1940.

A pet rabbit sits on top of the earth covering a family's new Anderson air raid shelter in their garden, c.1940.

A woman hangs out her laundry next to the new Anderson air raid shelter in her backyard, c.1940.

The Dallison family leave their Anderson shelter to view the wreckage caused by a nearby bomb explosion the night before, 1940.

A man fashions a blast door for his shelter out of a wooden table, 1940.

A decorated Anderson shelter, 1940.

The MacKenzie family take shelter during an air raid, 1940.

Actors are recorded for a film about Anderson shelters, 1940.

An elaborately decorated Anderson shelter, 1940.

Locals inspect an Anderson shelter next to a bomb crater. Despite the proximity of the blast, the two occupants of the shelter survived with minor bruises. Oct. 26, 1940

Tillz the hen stands outside her own hen-sized Anderson shelter. Nov. 4, 1940.

Alan and Doris Suter step down into their Anderson shelter in London, 1940.

Anderson shelters remain intact following a night of heavy bombing in east London, c.1940.

Mr. and Mrs. Murray bed down for the night in their Anderson shelter. Oct. 19, 1940.

A family celebrates Christmas in their Anderson shelter. Dec. 23, 1940.

A Christmas celebration in an Anderson shelter. Dec. 1940.

An Anderson shelter remains intact amid devastation in Croydon, c.1942.

A South London resident waters the vegetables planted on the roof of her Anderson shelter, c. 1943.

A family inspects their Anderson shelter with a 30-foot-deep bomb crater nearby, 1944.

(Images: Fox Photos/Getty Images, via Mashable)


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