Hide them in caves and cellars

In the dark days following the declaration of war with Germany, plans devised in the 1930s to protect the country from the worst excesses of the expected air war were put into action. Children were evacuated from London and other major cities, gas masks were distributed and an air raid protection system was established.

But it wasn’t only children who were evacuated at the outbreak of war: paintings, sculpture, manuscripts, books, records and countless other priceless treasures were disbursed to stately homes, castles, quarries and public buildings around the country in a desperate bid to protect the nation’s cultural heritage.

At the outbreak of the Second World War, the British Government and people feared two things more than anything else: a successful German invasion or the blanket bombing and obliteration of Britain’s cities from the sky.

Of these, the second had been the ominous subject for bleak prophecies and warning tracts since the development of the airplane. In November 1932, the Prime Minister Stanley Baldwin summed up the position in a dour, if realistic, assessment:

“it is well also for the man in the street to realise that there is no power on earth that can protect him from being bombed. Whatever people may tell him, the bomber will always get through.”

It was a widely held belief, echoing the work of the Italian General Douhet and the author of The Command of the Air. Douhet had predicted that the destruction of an enemy’s military and industrial capabilities from the air could see wars won without the need for land forces. The nightmarish visions of death and destruction delivered impersonally from beyond the clouds had been worked into novels, articles and films and were common currency amongst a fearful people.

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Best place for the best time of your life

Which is the best city in the world to be a student? It is an almost impossible question to answer – are you looking for the best party city or the most rarefied academic cluster? Miami or Boston, Newcastle or Oxford?

And should you consider the most perennial of student concerns – money? How far would a student loan go in New York, London or Paris? Would you have a better time and come out with a smaller debt burden in a cheaper city?

Despite all the difficulties inherent in creating a ‘best student city’ league table, one research team have tackled this near impossible task. The QS Best Student Cities team looked at affordability (both in terms of living costs and tuition fees), quality of life (including crime and housing), student mix and the number of overseas students, the number and quality of universities and the academic and employer reputation of the institutions.

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