Britain 1931-51 Revision

Notes on Britain before, during and after the war.

(for the Edexcel sources paper)

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Sources Paper: Britain 1931-51 Revision Topics
Unemployment in the 1930s
Unemployment in the 1930s was highest in the coal, iron and steel, cotton and shipbuilding
industries, in the north and east of England and in Scotland and Wales.
By 1932, 62% of all shipbuilders were unemployed.
Main changes and laws affecting the unemployed in the 1930s under the National
1930 Unemployment Insurance Act ­ more people entitled to benefit, no longer have
to prove they've been `actively seeking work'.
1931 Means Test ­ in the first 10 weeks, 271,000 people failed the means test and
could no longer claim benefit.
1934 Unemployment Act ­ made clear the division between National Insurance
payments (a right) and the dole (based on need, which could be refused), the National
Unemployment Assistance Board was to run the dole from taxes.
1932 Special Areas Act - £2 million aid for Scotland, Tyneside (NE), Cumberland (NW)
and South Wales.
1937 Special Areas (Amendment) Act ­ gave tax cuts and low rent and rates to
businesses that moved into these areas.
Jarrow is in Tyneside and was part of the Special Area of the north east. However, the
amount of money allowed in the Special Areas Act of 1934 was far too little.
Almost all the workers in Jarrow worked at Palmer's Shipyard. In 1934, the National
Shipbuilders' Security Ltd (NSS) closed Palmers down. By 1935, unemployment in Jarrow
was 64%.
In 1936, the National Unemployed Workers' Movement organised a National Hunger March to
London. People in Jarrow decided to hold their own march to ask for work for Jarrow. The
NUWM didn't want this ­ they wanted the unemployed to act together ­ but many people in
Jarrow thought the government would be more likely to listen if they didn't march with the
The members of the Jarrow town council, from all political parties, planned the march and
marched together for some of it. They chose 200 of the fittest of Jarrow's unemployed men
to march. They took a petition signed by over a thousand people asking the government to
provide work.
Government Reaction:
Stanley Baldwin refused to see Ellen Wilkinson and accept the petition. While the march was in
progress the cabinet had issued a statement disapproving of all marches "whatever their
particular purpose". The government made sure the marchers' benefit payments were
stopped while they were on the march because they were `not available for work'.
Several marchers were offered work but it meant leaving Jarrow. All but one marcher
reluctantly refused. Sir John Jarvis, MP, had taken an interest in Jarrow. After the march, he

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Jarrow. His works opened in December 1937. It only
employed 200 men and gave the government and excuse to ignore Jarrow.
Many of the marchers felt, and said, that the Crusade had failed. It did not achieve its aim.
The government did not act, at once, to bring work to Jarrow. As the country rearmed in
readiness for WW2, unemployment did drop and many Jarrow marchers found work.…read more

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Importance of Dunkirk ­ it boosted British morale.
The Battle of Britain
When France surrendered on 22nd June 1940, Hitler turned to Britain.
Operation Sealion relied on destroying the Royal Air Force so it could not attack invading
The Battle of Britain was not a single battle, or even a few battles. It was the battle between
the RAF and the Luftwaffe for control of the air over Britain and it was fought over many
months.…read more

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But the Blitz failed in its main objective ­ people did not turn against
the war in large numbers.
Coventry: Coventry suffered its worst attack on the night of the 14th November 1940, being
hit by 30,000 incendiary bombs (a bomb designed to cause a fire), with the target being its
aircraft factories. Over 400 people were killed and 4000 homes destroyed. Much of the city,
including the cathedral, was destroyed.…read more

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Some foster parents did not treat the evacuees well, beating them and not giving them
enough food. Some saw the children as a burden.
During the Phoney War, many children drifted back to the cities by Christmas and had
to be evacuated again once the Blitz began.
Role of the government
The most important part of the Ministry of Information (MOI) work was propaganda and
Censorship is stopping the passing of certain information ­ in newspapers, radio broadcasts,
private letters and even conversations.…read more

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They were also trained as drivers. Women could not go into battle, but as war
progressed they worked on anti-aircraft posts, as radio operators, as motorbike messengers
and as spies.
By 1943, 17 million women aged between 14 and 64 were either in the forces or in essential
war work. That included 90% of single women and 80% of married women with children over
The Land Army:
Around 80,000 women volunteered to work in the Land Army and became known as land
girls.…read more

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D-Day was successful because of all the careful planning and preparation which meant that
the plan ran smoothly. Also, the confusion of the Germans was key to its success.
The Battle of the Bulge
The Battle of the Bulge started on December 16th 1944. Hitler had convinced himself that the
alliance between Britain, France and America was not strong and that a major attack and
defeat would break up the alliance. Therefore, he ordered a massive attack against what
were primarily American forces.…read more

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Eastern Front ­ in Europe, the majority of the fighting was done on the Russian front.
The Red Army took on 75% of Germany war power. They eliminated 607 German
divisions and killed 6 million Germans whilst the British and Americans defeated 176
Britain's Role ­ Britain played a crucial role in 1940, in resisting the German forces
ALONE. Had Britain fallen, the war would have gone on a lot longer.…read more

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Before the National Health Services Act families were covered only if they had private
insurance and many of them couldn't afford to purchase insurance. Calling out a doctor, or
going to a hospital, was often a last resort with the result that illnesses or injuries went
untreated altogether, or became more serious than they might have been.…read more


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