Britain during the war

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Up until 141 the people of Britain went through a lot of problems regarding many issues such as supplies, bombing and keeping up the countries general morale. However in 141 Britain had managed to turn the war round, in the battle of Britain, so that the Allies were now on top of the German army. As the war then progressed for the allies, the British population started to find that their situation was getting better, and by the end of the war the society was in a better shape than it was before the war.


There were many ways in which the society was damaged in the early stages of the war and many ways in which society benefited from the war towards the end. The people that still occupied Britain were the women, the children, the old and the disabled. This force of people was known as the home front.


The declaration of war struck fear throughout many people in Britain. The Government, such as in the First World War took emergency powers. This changed the lives of millions of people throughout the country. Britain feared that bombing would play a great part in the Second World War. For this reason many children had to be evacuated out of the major cities and into the countryside, where the bombing was a lot less intense or non-existent. With all men between the ages of 1 and 40 conscripted to the armed forces in 1, the old people and women found themselves alone and needing to be independent for the first time.


For many people this was a hard and daunting experience. Living on your own during the blitz, with bombs falling all around you in a blacked-out city is an extremely hard thing to do. This turned many people’s lives upside down. Having to go out to the shelters every time the siren went off meant that people did not get much sleep. People missed their families because they were either at war fighting, or they had been evacuated. However the blitz ended in the summer of 141 because the German bombers were needed in an offensive on the USSR. This meant that the bombing of the British cities lessened.


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The children were evacuated into the countryside in September 1. However from the day that war was declared and May 140 nothing actually happened between Germany and Britain. This period was known as ‘The Phoney War’. During this period, children, pregnant mothers and teachers were moved backwards and forwards between the city and the countryside as the threat of bombing increased and decreased. This had drastic effects to their lives, as they could not settle down and live their lives normally.


After 141 life got better for these people. Children were now settled in their new foster homes and bombing became lighter for the women working in the cities. Defence against the air raids also improved and with the women being conscripted in 141 meant that there were people to man the AA-guns.


Evacuation also made the government think about the country’s welfare situation. The richer people in the country saw how terribly poor the evacuees were and complained to the government about the diabolical living standards. This caused the government to act in favour of the lower class and make plans for their welfare. A town and country-planning act was passed in 14. This ensured the building of new houses and would supply 100,000 council houses by the end of 150.


An education act was also passed. This abolished fee-paying grammar schools and provided free secondary education for all. If children passed an exam at 11 they would go to grammar schools. If not, they went to either technical or secondary modern schools. All three were to receive equal status. School meals, free milk and regular health inspections also had to be provided. The government also had to pay grants for those students going on into higher education.


Another problem that the British had during the early years of the war was the problem with supplies and the battle of the Atlantic. Britain got most of her supplies of food, goods and raw materials from the USA. These were shipped across the Atlantic Ocean in large cargo vessels. German U-boats started to sink these merchant ships cutting off the British lifeline. This caused a shortage of supplies throughout Britain.


This shortage led to the government setting up a ‘ministry of food’ to control supplies and advise the public. In 140 they started to ration the supplies of food. At the beginning it was just the basic foods that were rationed such as sugar, butter, cheese, and bacon. Then, later on in 140 other meats and tea were rationed as well. There was a policy for equal shares on all of the basic foods and anything else was purchased on a point’s basis. This caused long queues, which was another one of the problems that the home front had to face. Many would even sleep outside the shop doors in order to get their rations. The black market flourished in some areas selling off goods that were rationed or were hard to get hold of.


The ‘ministry of food’ also sent scientists to advise on healthy foods that used more non-rationed foods such as vegetables and brown bread. There were also shortages of other goods as well as food, Such as the control of raw materials in manufacturing. At first this annoyed many people because they were limited to the lives that they lead and the clothes that they wore. People were encouraged to mend their clothes rather than buying new ones. This meant that some people ledworse off lives than they had before and felt that their whole lives were being controlled.


However, by the end of the war it was found that the average food intake for the country was much higher than it was before the war began. This was because many of the poor people that made up the majority of city folk were too poor to feed themselves and their families properly. This led to the nation as a whole being generally healthier.


As the war progressed the supply problem grew smaller. Britain were winning the battle of the Atlantic in 14, so food and goods shortages were no longer too much of a problem. In 141 women were conscripted into the land army, meaning that less food needed to be imported from America because it could be grown at home. Campaigns such as the ‘dig for victory’ campaign was launched to encourage people to grow there own food. This all went towards the war effort and greatly lessened the supply problems that the British people had faced at the beginning of the war.


With the ‘ministry of food’ now set up and the realisation of how poor some people were, the government set about to improve the nation’s health. Disease epidemics were one of the results of the Blitz. When the Blitz ended in 141, the government went about wiping them out. To cope with the war casualties the government took control of most hospitals through an emergency hospital scheme. This meant that as the war progressed the health and fitness of the nation progressed with it.


Before 141 the British people also had problems with keeping up morale. With the great defeat at Dunkirk and the problems throughout the Blitz people would have started to loose faith in their country and their morale would drop, which is not a good thing to happen during a war. There fore the government went about boosting the nation’s morale using censorship, propaganda, and campaigns. The government boosted the morale as the war went on by only broadcasting the good things that were happening and forgetting about the bad things. The government reported Dunkirk as a heroic rescue and only reported the positive things about the Blitz, such as brave rescues and how many enemy planes had been shot down.


Campaigns were set up by the government to encourage the war effort and to make people think that their efforts were worth while. This meant that more people on the home front began to work and their lives became better off for it. Posters were used in these campaigns to get the message across and to help them stick into people’s minds. Government ministers, such as Winston Churchill gave speeches across the radio to tell the home front to keep up the good work.


The social side of life also got better for people towards the end of the war. Before and in the early stages of the war, there was a great division of social class. The rich kept themselves to the rich and looked down upon the poor and the poorer people kept their ideas to themselves. However all of this was changed due to the war efforts, evacuation, rationing and the actual fighting during the war. The barrier was broken down between the social classes and people realised that they were just the same. This caused the nation to see equality between the social classes, which was what rationing introduced to many people. Another social victory for the country was in the way that people viewed women towards the end of the war. Before the war women were seen as less important and less able than men were. Women were refused jobs and could not join the armed forces. Instead, most women were housewives and supported by their husbands. Those that did have jobs were often in unskilled labour, such as textiles. However as the war progressed and women participated in the war effort and were conscripted in 141, people started to see women as equal and just as capable as men were. Women had the chance to prove to the country that they could work hard, and got equal rights in returnThe British government and the people themselves were responsible for helping the home front out of this hardship and disruption. For these reasons, I feel that the British civilian population was not so hardly treated in the last 1 months of the war as they were up till 141.





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