Revealed: Identity of man who was 'face of Hull Blitz'
IT WAS an image used to show British grit in the face of deadly attacks from the might of the German Luftwaffe during the Blitz.
Today, 71 years on from the devastating raids that left 1,200 dead and 95 per cent of the city's housing stock in ruins, we can reveal the identity of the man in the picture.
For many, Alfred Covell – pictured giving the thumbs-up in the ruined remains of his family's home – was the face of the Hull Blitz.
His grandson, Mike Covell, contacted the Mail after spotting the picture, which accompanied a story featured in this paper last Friday about the work of volunteers collating the city's war records.
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Mr Covell, who is involved in the Second World War project at Hull History Centre, said: "I was really pleased and proud to see it featured in the Mail again.
"Everyone in the family had a copy of that photo.
"My grandad, who was a teenager during the Blitz, was really proud of it too.
"We have the same photo at home as a reminder that no matter how bad life gets, put your thumbs up and smile."
The photograph was widely used to brighten the spirits both at home and abroad for fighting troops.
Mr Covell, 34, who lives with wife Susan and their children Bradley, nine, Alyssa, six, and William, six months, in east Hull, only has scant details about his grandfather's photograph.
"I know it was taken in Lee Smith Street, off Hedon Road," he said.
"My grandfather was living there with his family during the war.
"We think his mother is in the picture too. We think the others are family friends.
"The family was told a Hull Daily Mail photographer was in the street the morning after this one particularly heavy raid. The photographer shouted over to them, 'Everything OK, guys?'
"My grandfather then stuck his thumb up and the picture was taken.
"It's amazing anyone could be so cheerful with their house looking in such a mess. But that was the spirit of the Blitz."
• Gallery: Remarkable pictures from the Hull Blitz
• Gallery: More remarkable pictures from the Hull Blitz
Alfred died in 1991, aged in his 60s.
Mr Covell, who is unable to work due to ill health, has been volunteering at the history centre, where thousands of documents are being hand-cleaned and indexed, for months.
He said: "It's absolutely fascinating. I would really recommend anyone with an interest in their family history and the war spends a few hours there.
"The records make for sober reading but the city needs to know this information and I often sit and talk to my children about the files and my research."
Unfortunately, Mr Covell has been unable to find the newspaper cutting containing the photograph of his grandfather.
"We've been given a fair bit of conflicting information," he said. "Of course, without knowing the exact date the photograph was taken, we have been unable to locate the newspaper."
Besides researching his own family history, Mr Covell has been finding out more about raids on key wartime landmarks.
He said: "I was interested to learn about the raid on the Savoy Theatre in Holderness Road.
"It has been shocking to learn about the devastation this city suffered."
Mr Covell says he also treasures a similar photograph of his late father, Mick, on his hospital bed when he was dying of cancer.
"He also had his thumbs up despite what he faced. My dad obviously had the same spirit as his dad."