July 19 marks the 70th anniversary of Winston Churchill's famous "V for Victory" campaign, and in tribute to the spirit of Britons who "would not be cowed" during World War II, LIFE.com is presenting an incredible series of color photos that show London's battered state during the war.
Known collectively as "The Blitz," the German air raids on English cities in 1940 and 1941 were certainly terrifying. As these photos attest, the British capital suffered "the brunt of Blitz," with more than 1 million houses badly damaged or completely destroyed, according to LIFE.com.
You can view more images from the stunning gallery here.
You can take a look at a selection of photos from the gallery below. All images and captions are courtesy of LIFE.com.
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.)
Britons work a "victory garden" in the midst of World War II. Countless numbers of these gardens sprang up in England, the U.S., Canada and elsewhere -- even Germany -- on private land and in public parks, as civilians pitched in to try and help the war effort by whatever means, no matter how seemingly small, available to them.
"All the painfully-gathered German experience was expressed on this occasion," Churchill wrote of the infamous Dec. 29 raid. "It was an incendiary classic. The weight of the attack was concentrated upon the City of London itself. It was timed to meet the dead-low-water hour. The water-mains were broken at the outset by very heavy high-explosive parachute-mines. Nearly fifteen hundred fires had to be fought. The damage to railway stations and docks was serious. Eight [Christopher] Wren churches were destroyed or damaged."
A London Civil Defense Rescue crew helps remove injured and dead civilians from buildings after an attack German by a V-1 flying bomb.
A man sits on a park bench in London, reading a book; a moored "barrage balloon" is visible in the background, while a second one soars high in the distance. Barrage balloons were remarkable devices designed to fly high enough to disable or even destroy enemy aircraft, which might fly into their ropes and metal cables. In WWII, barrage balloons were credited with bringing down more than 200 V-1 flying bombs -- or "doodlebugs," as the enormous (4,000-lb.) weapons were known in characteristically blithe British vernacular -- over England during the Blitz.