As Hitler prepared to invade Poland during the sweltering summer of 1939, men and women from across London’s museums, galleries and archives formulated ingenious plans to send the nation’s highest prized objects to safety.
Using stately homes, tube tunnels, slate mines, castles, prisons, stone quarries and even their own homes, a dedicated bunch of unlikely misfits packed up the nation’s greatest treasures and, in a race against time, dispatched them throughout the country on a series of top-secret wartime adventures.
National Treasures highlights a moment from our history when an unlikely coalition of mild-mannered civil servants, social oddballs and metropolitan aesthetes became the front line in the heritage war against Hitler.
National Treasures: Saving The Nation’s Art in World War II by Caroline Shenton is published on 11 November, 2021.
Caroline uncovers some hidden gems from her book in her Historia feature How WWI veterans saved Britain’s treasures in WWII.