To What Extent Did The Home Front

In Britain Affect The Outcome Of The Second World War Essay, Research Paper

To what extent did the Home

Front in Britain affect the outcome of the Second World War? In September 1939 Britain went to

war against Germany, the war lasted until 1945 in Europe. Throughout this time

there was always on front, which was constant, this was the home front. The

home front was the front at which the British people were involved. Those who

were not fighting were expected to work for the British war gain and to support

the war fully. They were also expected to make some sacrifices for the good of

the country. In this essay I will be examining to what extent the home front

and the people on it affected the outcome of the war for Britain. I will be

examining different factors including those affecting production and those

affecting morale. There are a number of factors

affecting production and output these included union militancy, morale and how

the industries were controlled. A case study that can be used to best

illustrate the factors is the coal industry. The coal industry employed 1 man

in 20 during the war. There was a lack of technology therefore many men were

needed. The coal industry had a history of union militancy and striking going

back to the general strike in 1926. Worried about strikes and the effect they

could have on the British war effort Churchill banned strikes and set-up a

national arbitration tribunal, which would attempt to solve disputes. This did

little to stop the strikes and in 1043 1,800,000 working days were lost to

strikes with 1,875 separate strikes. This number increased in 1944 with

3,700,000 days being lost through 2,194 separate strikes. There was a drop in

coal production, which was not beneficial for the British war effort. The

government blamed the large number of strikes and absenteeism whereas the

miners blamed the loss of skilled workers to the army. The media agreed with

the government and argued that the strikers were holding back the war and

holding back the invasion of France. Overall even though there were a large

number of strikes production espcially munitions production was never halted

due to a lack of coal. Because of the large numbers of men

who had joined the army at the beginning of the war there were a large number

of job positions left open which need to be filled. At the beginning of the war

Chamberlain called for women to become volunteer workers to help the British

war effort. 30,000 enrolled but many were not found jobs and returned to the

dole queue. Ernest Bevin the minister of trade and industry was reluctant to

employ women but when it became apparent that another 2 million workers would

be needed in 1940 he re-introduced conscription for female workers. Many women

disliked war work because it detracted from their work in the home. Also women

had to suffer prejudice as there was no equal opportunities for example they

were only paid 60% of the male wage. This lack of equal opportunities did

little to help the female morale. The women?s work was key to the British war

effort as they were involved in all the major war industries such as armaments

manufacture. The population of Britain was much

more involved in the war and the war industries than in the First World War.

Churchill said ? whole of the warring nations are not only soldiers but the

entire population?The workmen are soldiers with different weapons.? This state

was sometimes described as a ?total war?. In 1939 with the declaration of war

there was a mass evacuation of people from the major cities in Britain. Many

people believed that there would be widespread bombings of the major cities so

it was arranged that 3.5 million people would be evacuated to so called

reception areas. The main area to be evacuated was London. There were a number

of problems with the evacuation. People had little idea of where they were

going and therefore could not prepare. The reception areas also had problems

often there were to many evacuees for houses or to few evacuees for houses.

This was due to poor organisation by the government. It was not only people who

were evacuated works of art from different art galleries were evacuated out of

cities. The pictures from the National Gallery were evacuated to a slate cave

in Wales. The rich usually evacuated themselves to countryside hotels or to

America. The royal family was advised to evacuate themselves to their colony in

Canada but they refused. The evacuation had a good effect on the war effort as

it increased the morale of troops knowing that their loved ones were not at

risk in the town and cities. This gave them peace of mind. One effect of the war, which was

said to have ?transformed life more than any other?, was the blackout. The

blackout involved cutting out all artificial light escaping into the

atmosphere. This was to reduce the effectiveness of the German bombing raids,

as they could not identify targets. The blackout also had a large effect on the

people of Britain, within the first month there was an increase in the number

of road accidents by 100% per-cent. By October 1939 the government realised

that they were causing more problems than they were solving so the blackout

laws were relaxed. The blackout also led to the banning of certain activities

because they led to the congregation of large numbers of people and could lead

to large numbers of casualties if hit by a bomb. These included cinemas, football

stadiums, and theatres. This led to decrease in public morale and a reduction

in support for the war effort as people were being denied their leisure

activities. Therefore the laws on this were also relaxed. The government in 1939 with the

outbreak of war introduced rationing. Many things were rationed including food,

petrol and clothing. Rationing was introduced to introduce the British people

to the idea of limitation from the outset of the war even though there was

enough food not to have to ration people. It was also introduced to bring an

idea of equality to the war and to break down the class barriers. Everybody was

rationed including the Royal Family. This was to avoid a struggle between the

classes so that people could concentrate on the war effort. It would also

prevent the rich buying up food supplies. In conclusion it could be argued

that the role of the home front in the outcome of the Second World War was

huge. The home front?s role in the British army and there morale and supplies

was key. And therefore there role in the war overall was also key. We believe

that without the support of the home font in the war the British army would not

have won the war, as there would have been poor morale and a lack of supplies.


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