Stiff Upper Lips

From the Our Island Stories group blog about national identity, a bit of almost forgotten history, and the story of another, but rather different, official cover up.


Our Island Stories

Not an English phrase, as it turns out, but American.  Who’d have thought it?  Nonetheless, as Ian Hislop’s recent series showed, it came to sum up a kind of Britishness – stoicism in the face of adversity, keeping calm and carrying on.    Hislop’s series, inevitably, raised as many questions as it answered – it would be interesting to analyse further how the notion of the stiff upper lip varied according to class, for example, or the different forms it took between the sexes, or whether it is British, or English.

Hislop missed one fascinating and pertinent story from WWII.  It’s the story of the largest loss of civilian life in the UK in wartime, at Bethnal Green Tube Station, in March 1943.  No bombs fell that night, but 173 people died.

So what caused the disaster?

Although things had been quieter of late, on the night of 3rd…

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