Britian 1940-51 - Impact of WW2 on British Society

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Class Barriers - Social Mobility

Military conscription

  • Sept 1940> men 18-41
  • Sent to N Africa, Altantic Ocean, Malta, Burma, Italy etc.
  • Older men  - Home Guard/Civil Defence
  • Unmarried women 19-30 - Women's Auxilary Force/war work
  • 1941 - 3 mill in forces - 1 mill voluteers
  • 1944 - 4 mill men & 1/2 mill women
  • HG = 1.75 mill 1943
  • 1944 - 1.5 mill foreign troops 

Migration 

  • Young people met people they wouldnt have in peace time - US GIs, Polish pilots, German refugees, evacuees etc. - widened social horizons
  • Some -ve effects - crime, bereavment, broken marriages etc.
  • Ethnic violence - US troops in Lancashire etc. 1943 
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Class Barriers - Employment

  • Unemployment fell by 50% by 1942 - disappered by 1943  
  • Full employment in poorest areas
  • Women filled factories
  • Factory work & mining noisy + dirty - Bevin's Boys - 20,000
  • Resentment of spivs - black market + crime
  • 11-12 hour days & night shifts - little social life
  • Tirdness = factory accidents - 1000 deaths pa
  •  Limited striking rights - <2 mill working days lost
  • TU membersship >ed 6.3 mill to 8.9 
  • WCs mens wages > 80% - womens > 50% - living standards > - rationing + controls
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Class Barriers - Housing and Evacuation

Housing  

  • 220,000 houses built 1939-40 - only 7000 more by 1943
  • 4 mill destroyed - bombing raids
  • 60,000 killed, 86,000 killed & >2 mill homeless 
  • Sent to rest centres, schools & church halls - conditions poor
  • WC resented MC in cities - could escape to country

Evacuation

  • Sept 1939 - 1 mill children moved
  • Some treated well - better fed & clothed
  • Some neglected & homesick
  • Jan 1940 - 50% went home
  • Evacated again in 1940 Blitz & 1944-5 V1 + V2 attacks
  • Disrupted education of 1000s
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Class Barriers - Daily Life

  • Rationing 
    • Battle of Atlantic 1939-43 - U-boats attacked merchant ships with British imports
    • Strict rationing system - prosecution for food waste
    • Wooton encouraged new recipes for rations 
  • Identity cards
  • Germans, Italians & Ausrtians put in camps - deported to Canada or strict police control - most freed by 1943
  • 1,600 suspected traitors jailed without trial inc. Mosley  
  • Blackouts at night
  • Propaganda 
    • Overseas mail & newspapers censored
    • Phonelines tapped
    • Deaftist attitude discouraged


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Women - Employment

  • Housewives had to deal with bombing & keep together familes separated by conscription, evacuation, long work hours etc.  
  • 1940> women did mens jobs 
  • 1943 - 50% factory workers women 
  • 500,000 in AFs - admin, clerical, supportive etc.
  • 350,000 in Land Army
  • Code breakers - Bletchley Park
  • Some in active roles; fighter controllers & plotters, radar operaters, signaling etc. 
  • B4 war - women gave up work when married
  • 1943 - 80% married women working & housewife
  • Unequal pay - 60-70% of mens wages
  • 1945> many forced to give up jobs 
  • %age of married working women higher than B4 war
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Women - Sexual Revolution

  • Moral restraints lossened
  • Women less reserved 
  • Would readily had one night stands with soldiers simply because they may have never seen them again
  • Lonely housewives often slept with soldiers - broken marriages
  • Covered up sexual behavior after war 
  • Many argue women were happy to become wifes + mothers 1945> - revolution in 1960s  
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Propaganda

  • B portrayed as united & patriotic - 'good war'
  • Showed Blitz as time of comradeship & sharing
  • Newsreels of casualties hidden
  • Survirors shouted abuse at onlookers & many homes looted - covered up
  • M of I - Careless Talk Costs Lives
  • M of F - Dig for Victory 
  • Squander Bug - tempted public to spend money insted of buying war bonds
  • M of Fuel & Power  discouraged waste of energy
  • 1945 -10 mill radios - BBC - mixture of news, discussion, comedy, dance music & light entertainment - boosted morale
  • Cinema - average 30 million p/w - light British & US films to raise mood & propaganda docs
  • Brits & Yanks gave good images of each other - strong US influence;
    • 'big band sound' 
    • jive & jitterbugg
    • Lucky Strike ciggs, gum & nylon stockings
    • language - OK
    • mixing of US troops & local girls - 60,000 GI Wives
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Impact on attitudes

  • Monarchy 
    • Reputation damaged by Abdication Crisis 1936 
    • Princesses Elizabeth & Margret gave good impression during war - royal family focal to national pride
    • strenthened links between B & empire - PMs of Austrailia, Canada & S Africa - admired in B
  • Labour party
    • B4 war - easy to attack as revolutionnaries 
    • After war - proved reliable & effective - popular domestic policies
    • Memories of Great Depression 
    • Public ready to accept reforms & state intervention
    • 'Never Again' - popular idea - became slogan
  • Social trends
    • Many lives changed completely - many didn't
    • Many wanted to keep changes - many didn't
    • Propaganda & real experinces blurred - denial of true events
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