Britain at War


Britain at War:

- It was realised and accepted that the war effort necessitated centralised direction

- This resulted in an unprecedented extension of State authority, involving the sacrifice of legal and civil rights in the cause of national security

- Churchill's Coalition govt. moved so far towards a regulated economy that the post-war Lab. govt., rather than being radical, was simply continuing the established pattern

- Lasting impact on social attidudes (long-term) - Britain's collectove effort as a nation in wartime narrowed the gap between the classes


- 93% of males aged between 14 and 64 registered for war service- 45% of women between 14 and 58 performed some type of war service

- 3.2 million adults worked in the munitions industries

- 1.75 million in the Home Guard for those too old for call-up

- 8.5 million Essential Work Orders - directed workers to particular employment within designated vital industries

- Registration for employment was made compulsory in 1941


- Britain needed to supplement its 200,000 strong peacetime army

- Under the Emergency Powers Act of August 1938, physically fit males aged 20 and 21 had been obliged to undergo 6 months' military training

- September 1939 - war broke out - 900,000 men available in Britain (including volunteers)

- However this fell well below Britain's troop needs... October 1939, National Service Act - all able-bodied males between 18 and 41 to register for armed service

- Those in reserved occupations exempt

- End of 1939 - over 1.5 million had joined up

- By the end of the war, 5.5 million Britons had been called up and over 4.5 million had seen active service - this was nearly 60% of all males aged 18-40

British wartime victims:

- in May 1945, the total number of casualties was very close to a million

- 287,859 killed in the armed services

- 60,585 civilians killed


- 1939 - Britain importing around 55 million tons of food annually from distant regions such as Australia, the Caribbean, South Africa and North America

- It soon became apparent that the German submarines would easily be able to disrupt the flow of imports, like in the German blockade during WW1 (U-Boat campaign 1917), which caused a massive crisis

- Govt. responded by encouraging increased production of home-grown food - 'Dig for Victory' - and introducing food rationing

- In 1941 state schools began to provide each individual pupil with a third of a pint of milk a day, free of charge

- Churchill asked to see what a typical ration for one actually looked like. He was shown a set of plates with various items on them and remarked approvingly that he could comfortably survive for a day on that amount, only to be told that what he was looking at were the rations for a whole week



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