World War II on the Home front - WJEC HY4

World War II on the Home front - WJEC HY4

Covering a range of topics desciring life on the Home Front, including finance, politics and preparations for war.

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  • Created on: 19-05-10 08:33
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WWII on the Home Front:
There was, then, in the inter-war period a definite but not catastrophic decline in heavy
industry, and a pronounced decline in traditional exports.
In the late 1930s, a notable expansion of light industry occurred catering mainly for the home
market. Foreign trade was less important and the balance of trade had been restored in
1935, but surpluses thereafter were small.
Trade union movement was docile, and the decline can be related to the failure of the
General Strike and the depression, and the rise to the improved economic conditions of the
late 1930s.
The standard of living was rising steadily, and there was a plentiful supply of consumer
goods. With bolder investment and more determined government assistance, the economic
transformation might have happened more quickly and gone further.
Varying Impact on British People:
The people realised the restrictions were necessary and were fairly applied.
It is argued rationing caused an improvement in the nation's health by compelling people to
eat more nutritious food.
By the Emergency Powers Act of 1939 and 40, traditional liberties such as freedom from
arbitrary imprisonment and freedom of the press were made liable to suspension. The
Ministry of Information operated a form of press censorship.
People realised restrictions were necessary and were being fairly applied.
Organising for War:
The Navy and RAF were put on wartime alert, and the BEF were sent to France to join the
Air raid sirens and Anderson shelters were set up, although there was little action in the
West during the first 6 months of the war. This period is nicknamed "The Phoney War".
Shortages of uniforms, weapons and training facilities prevented rapid mobilisation.
Anticipating the total destruction of cities and the dropping of poison gas bombs, the
government prepared in 1930 plans for the evacuation of children out of London and issues
gas masks to the entire population.
Strict blackout regulations were brought into effect: street lights were extinguished, cars
couldn't use headlamps and householders had to blackout windows at night.
Chamberlain set up a small war cabinet.
Dealing with Shortages:
From January 1940 basic foodstuffs were rationed, followed by clothing. Beaverbrook
launched a national campaign for scrap metal, leading to miles of garden railings being
converted into spitfires and hurricanes. He also demanded extra work from the factories,
and, with Bevin's co-operation persuaded unions to suspend rules governing the length of
the working day.
Food rationing saw few luxuries become available and the Ministry of Food issued a list of
regulations determining e.g. the colour of bread and amount of meat in sausages.
The Ministry of Agriculture encouraged British farmers to produce as much food as possible
and, in particular, to cultivate land previously devoted to pasture.
In 1939 about 2 thirds of Britain's food was imported and as an island it was easy for the
German navy to block her supplies and food was in short supply.
Rationing was complicated and the Ministry of Food kept the public informed via leaflets,
posters and newspapers.
Poorer people actually benefited as they could now afford food previously more expensive.

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The Ministry of Food also organised a widespread campaign giving suggestions for wartime
Dig for victory and grow your own were just 2 of the catchphrases used by the Ministry's
Clothes were rationed from May 1941 onwards. Textiles were in short supply as materials
were in great demand for military uniforms and blankets.
Petrol was rationed immediately but as time progressed people were asked to lay up their
cars to help the war effort.…read more

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During 1942 coal supplies were dwindling and production was down because of a lack of coal
miners. Bevin announced that conscripts could go down the pits rather than fight. Such
recruits following ballots were nicknamed "Bevin's Boys".
With agricultural workers being gradually filtered into the forces the void was filled by
members of the Women's Land Army.
Bevin introduced measures to improve working conditions so the bitter pill of direction
sweetened.…read more

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On the home front they took a variety of jobs. Women's contributions to domestic workforce
were undoubtedly important.
Wartime propaganda highlighted women's roles in the war, such publicity was good for
Many women disliked their war work. It tended to be monotonous, poorly paid and allowed
insufficient time for traditional home based occupations.
Housewives faced challenges with morale, rationing etc and most spent a sizeable part of
the war in queues
.in addition, women had to suffer a good deal of prejudice from men.…read more

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The Government directed the basic industries. Government commissioners co-ordinated
transport, taking over general control of the docks and railways.
Under pressure to do so from his own party, Chamberlain had invited Churchill to become
First Lord of the Admiralty. Churchill however failed to appreciate the impact of air power
and the only allied gain from the Norwegian Campaign was the massive damage done to the
German navy.
2 Months later when the Germans contemplated Operation Sea Lion, these losses were felt.…read more

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Even Churchill's harshest critics describe him as the "saviour of his country", and his decision
to withdraw the BEF from Dunkirk and to keep the RAF from fighting on the continent
certainly contributed to the country's survival.
However he did make mistakes. The Norwegian campaign is perhaps one of the most
obvious, yet he avoided blame and benefitted from the resulting attack on Chamberlain.
Churchill has been criticised for his attitude of Stalin, especially when he signed the
percentages agreement in Moscow.…read more

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The war so no economic renaissance for Britain but given the poor economic base from which
Britain started the war, the economy reacted well to the challenge.
Less doubt exists about the consequences of the war for the economy. The costs were
undoubtedly high with huge debts accumulated, large amounts of foreign investment sold
off and millions of tonnes of shipping were lost
It has been calculated that Britain lost ¼ of its pre-war wealth during the war.…read more

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Entertainment was available to the public and in 1940 the government provided finance for
what was to become the Arts Council.
Cinemas kept going during the war, providing valuable escapism for up to 30 million a week.
Ernest Bevin went out of his way to provide a cheerful working atmosphere in factories,
instituting "music while you work" among a number of other measures.…read more

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Reality was different from the propaganda myths; the idea of a shared experience was not always
true. Middle class people lived away from the main centres of bombing raids.
Most of the effects of change were temporary. Many women gave up their jobs at the end of the
war, either because they wished to or were forced to. Class loyalties stayed the same.
War service did more to reinforce class divisions than to break them down. The armed forces were
organised on class lines.…read more


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