Censorship and Propaganda
The most important Ministry of Intelligence work was propaganda and censorship.
Censorship is stopping the passing of certain information e.g newspapers, radio broadcasts, television, private letter and telephone conversations.
Propaganda is giving people information in order to make them think or behave in a particular way. The Ministry of Intelligence had been impressed by the Nazis use of propaganda in the 1930s. They quickly built up a large team of workers to produce posters and leaflets to persuade people to do (and not to do) certain things to help the war effort.
- At the start of the war the government was sure the Germans would bomb British cities, especially London.
- They began evacuating people from London before declaring the war.
- Most evacuees were children, but the government also evacuated some mothers of children under school age, pregnant women and blind people.
- This reduced the number of people in cities and reduced casualties of various other vunerable groups, who would not be able to cope with bombing.
The Battle of Britain
Britain was attacked because, after Germany's victory over France, Hitler turned to Britain.
The Battle of Britain was a battle between the RAF and the Luftwaffe. There were four stages:
10th July - 7th August: Luftwaffe attacks on British coasts, especially RAF radar stations.
8th August - 6th September: Luftwaffe attacks on RAF airfields.
7th - 15th September: Luftwaffe, thinking RAF were beaten, attack London.
15th September: Luftwaffe defeated. This is now Battle of Britain day, because it convinced the Luftwaffe that the RAF was still a fighting force.
- On 9th April, 1940, Germany invaded Norway and Denmark.
- Germany's 'Blitzkrieg' followed this pattern through Europe:
- German planes bombed area to be occupied.
- German tanks moved in and took over area.
- German troops moved in and occupied the area, under cover of artillery fire.
- The planes and tanks moved onto the next target, leaving the troops to occupy the captured area and put down all resistance.
- 8th December 1941 - Government introduced sconscription for all unmarried women aged 20 - 30.
- As war went on, older single women, then married women were also conscripted.
- Women could join armed services and civil defence or industry.
- By 1943, over 100,000 women were working on railways, selling tickets, driving trains etc.
In the Services
- Women had their own sections in the armed services: the ATS (army), the WAAF (air force) and the Wrens (navy).
- At first their work was cleaning, cooking or office work. They were also trained as drivers.
- As war progressed, they worked on anti-aircraft posts, as radio operators, motorbike messengers and even spies.
- 3rd September 1939, Britain and France declared war on Germany.
- Germany wanted complete control of Poland, before moving onto Western Europe.
- Attack of Europe began suddenly on 10th May 1940 and Germany used new tactics 'Blitzkrieg' to push rapidly through Luxembourg, Belgium and Netherlands.
- German Army moved through france in a matter of days. On 22nd June 1940, France surrendered to Germans. Britain was alone.
Going to war
- 1st September 1939, Germany invaded Poland. Britain and France tried to avoid war with Germany.
- Invasion of France over French/German border was expected. As soon as the war broke out, the BEF (British Expeditionairy Force) was sent to France. By May 1940, it had 394,165 troops defending it's border.
- When the German attack came, it surprised them with it's speed and direction. The BEF tried to counterattack, but the Germans forced them to retreat.
Preparing for Bombing
- Long before the war began, the government prepared for it, certain that cities would be bombed.
- As early as 1935, it told local councils to build air raid shelters.
- On 21st May 1940, first retreating allied troops reached Dunkirk, the only French Port not held by the Germans.
- It's long shallow beach was hard to evacuate from. The British Navy made plans to rescue as many troops from Dunkirk before the Germans took over.
- Operation Dynamo began on 26th May. The government asked owners of small boats to go to Dunkirk to ferry soldiers to the big ships. By 29th May, about 300 boats were doing this.
- The big boats shuttled down from Dunkirk to Britain until 4th June. They had estimated 20,000 - 30,000 troops may be brought home. The final total was over 338,000 - a large part of the BEF and many allied troops aswell.
The Jarrow Crusade
- The Jarrow Crusade reached London on Saturday, 31st October. Stanley Baldwin refused to see Ellen Wilkinson and accept the petition.
- While the march was in protest the cabinet had issued a statement disapproving of all marches.
- The government made sure the marchers' benefit payments were stopped while they were on the march.
- The Jarrow unemployment board offered work to one marcher, Samuel Anderson, at a shipyard near Jarrow to tempt him from the march. He didn't go. Parliment accepted the petition, but did not debate it.
The Jarrow Legacy
- Many of the marchers felt and said that the crusade had failed. It didn't achieve it's aim. The government did not act, at once, to bring work to Jarrow.
- As the country rearmed it's readiness for the second world war, unemployment did drop and many Jarrow marchers found work. More than this, the crusade became a legend.
- Support was less universal than people now believe. The political unity of the marchers did not last long either. The various political parties that came forward for the march were soon opponents again, but the spirit of the marchers inspired many more modern protests.