So, the British government commissioned air raid shelters to every home. At first the amount they needed to produce and the cost of them posed a major problem for the British government. They varied in size and shape depending on where you live. For instance, if you lived in a middle class area, and had a garden, then you would be commissioned an Anderson shelter. They undoubtedly saved many peoples lives, but they were dark, damp and cold, and often filled with water. Anderson shelters were issued free to all householders who earned less than i50 a year, and those with a higher income were charged i??
7. 150,000 shelters of this type were distributed from February 1939 to the end of the blitz. However, an alternative occurred to the public, especially in the east end. The underground became the nightly refuge for 177,000 people. They were perfect, warm, dry, and they had electricity. However, the government said they were not to be used, but the public ignored them. Another type of shelter was the Morrison shelter. Morrison shelters were designed by John Baker and named after Herbert Morrison, the Minister of Home Security at the time.
It was the result of the realisation that due to the lack of house cellars it was necessary to develop an effective type of indoor shelter. The shelters came in assembly kits, to be bolted together inside the home. They were approximately 6 ft 6 in long, 4 ft wide and 2 ft 6 in high, had a solid 1/8 in steel plate “table” top, welded wire mesh sides, and a metal lath “mattress”- type floor. This meant that is was big enough for two adults and two children to sleep in, even if it wasn’t very comfortable. 500,000 Morrison’s had been distributed by the end of 1941, with an outbreak of war.
During the war a further 2. 1 million were erected. However, a further 100,000 being added in 1943 to prepare the population for the expected German V-1 flying bomb attacks. Some others were forced to take shelter in the basements of offices or shops. Some of the other unfortunate people were given brick ‘surface shelters’, which unfortunately weren’t very safe from bomb damage. The British government also anticipated that gas attacks would come at some time in the war, and they posed a major threat. So they prepared the entire nation, giving gas masks to every man, woman, child and baby.
The children had gas masks shaped like Disney character, such as Mickey Mouse, where as babies had helmet like things that pumped clean air in. the public were instructed to carry them with them at all time, and under no circumstances to leave them at home when they went out. ‘A raid could come at any time’. The war caused a massive shock to the working body of Britain. The country was forced to make dramatic changes to the way it ran. The change meant women had to work, (mainly in factories, but also on farms etc. ). By 1941 women had been conscripted, meaning that any woman over 20 had to register for work.
If they weren’t ill, had small children or were pregnant they were sent to work in industry or the armed forces. Many worked in jobs such as air raid wardens, fire officers or hosts for evacuees. Later on (after the war) it had a very positive effect, as women found it easier to find, and get work. However, not only women were conscripted. From the start of the war in 1939 all men aged 18 to 41 had to register for a job in the war effort. As at the beginning of the First World War, rich and poor were called upon alike.
There were few complaints and by the end of 1940, over 1 million had signed up. However, not all men were called upon, these men were required back at Britain to do essential jobs such as mining, electronics, medicine, etc. The government worked very closely with the trade unions to ensure that as many products could be made to aid the war effort as possible, also controlling prices and wages. The government kept a close eye on the production in the mining industry, and when mining production did drop in 1940, many men were recalled from the armed forces to return to mining.
After 1942, when Britain felt the war was going well in their favour and that were going to win, men were given the choice to be miners instead of being in the army, but few took up the offer. To maintain the rate of production, people had to work very long hours. An 80 hour week was not uncommon. As a result, a few strikes broke out, but were dealt with quickly and the news on them was heavily censored. The ‘home guard’ was also introduced, along with the air raid wardens, allowing every man and woman, old or disabled, it didn’t matter, to aid in the war effort.
The air raid wardens played a vital role during the war, and had many jobs. In every city, the air raid wardens had a little hut in their area with a telephone, meaning they had a very good communications system. The wardens were generally people who new the area well, and the people who lived there, meaning they could deal with problems effectively. They had the job of calling out the first warning of an upcoming air raid, manning sirens or whistles and giving detail on what type of attack to expect. (e. g. gas) they also gave the all clear when that raid was over for people to come out of their shelters with a rattle.
Another key job was to report all bombings and to call in people to deal with them, for instance, firemen, mobile first-aiders (who gave morphine and tea) or emergency troops. After heavy raids, they worked with rescue services and heavy diggers to remove the dead bodies, clear the rubble, board up house or tear the remainder of them down. At first, the ‘home guard’ was called the ‘local defence volunteers’. The people who started it were either too old to fight or couldn’t due to medical reasons. Not only that, but the men who were working in the mines, hospitals or farming often joined the work force after work.
As a result, by the end of 1943 over 2 million people had volunteered. They took their job very seriously, but were often made fun of, being called ‘dads army’. Their jobs were actually very important. They had the job of railways, bridges and airfields. They also played their part in helping to protect the coastline. They dug trenches on hilltops and built pillboxes for cover. They kept watch and put barbed wire along the beaches. They also had to prevent German parachutists from landing. The government also decided to introduce the ‘ministries’.
The ministries were government departments that were responsible for controlling things such as rationing, media and other sensitive areas. The purpose for creating them was to ensure that they always had tabs on what was going on, and to know they were always in control, or at least as much as they could be. When a raid came, and a city was bombed, there were many direct effects on the city at the time, such as; mass death, casualties, no electricity or power (gas), little food no economy, homelessness, low moral, bad hygiene, disease, debris, no clean water, fires, etc.all this had a knock on effect, that Hitler believed would win him the war.
Very low moral. However, despite the hardships many people face, Britain still pulled through. One of the key reasons for this was ‘entertainment’. Having a good time was still important during the war. Hollywood made over 500 films during the war, and the ‘flicks’ were popular with all ages. There were several big stars at that time, one of which was Frank Sinatra. Music was very popular on wireless and at daces. Jazz became very big with big bands like Glenn Miller playing.
To entertain the troops E. N. S. A. was set up, all the stars travelled to put on concerts for the troops. Vera Lynn became known as the forces sweetheart. In summary, the effects the blitz had on Britain were massive. The country was forced to change and adapt in many ways, such as rationing, issuing gas masks, blackouts, shelters, evacuation, etc. without doing every single one of these Britain would surely have fallen before Germany. ‘How did the British government attempt to hide the truth? ‘ During the blitz, the British government were forced to lie to the people.
They couldn’t afford for the people to know what was really going on, so they set up the ministries, to do things sensor the media and create propaganda. During a time of war, the government’s role is to keep the country going. During war, the government is the brains of the country, commanding everything to do what it’s meant to and taking in and processing information. It makes all the decisions for the people, and makes sure the public get what they need. For instance, it is the government’s job to supply the nation with food, clean water, soap to wash, etc.
The British government knew that things would begin to run out sooner or later, so they rationed things such as food. Eventually most things were rationed, but it was all to keep the country going. Without it, Britain would have ground to a halt within months. The government also have the job of protecting the public. For example, to keep the death rates down in cities, children were evacuated, this also protected the future generations. The government had many jobs, all of which had one thing in common. Thinking ahead.
Without doing this, the British government would not have begun filming films such as ‘Britain prepares’ which instructed the public how best to prepare for war. They were assured of plenty of food, supplied with gas masks and bomb shelters and even taught what to do in the event of each type of raid. So, the government has many roles during war time, but key of these are protecting the people, fighting the war, and providing for the public. The government needed to keep the public on their side, so they used tools such as propaganda and censorship to achieve this.
This means that the British government were deliberately hiding things from their public. They made this legal in 1939, when they introduced the ’emergency powers act’ and the ‘defence of the realm act’. These laws gave the government huge scope to legally dictate what the British public should know. As a result of this, the ministry of information was created. Under the title of ‘propaganda’ comes the editing of newspapers, photos, films, posters, flyers, even messages over the radio were due to propaganda. Counter propaganda also had its part to play.
An example of counter propaganda is when Germany practically flattened Coventry, the newspapers the next day were saying ‘Coventry, not a mortal blow’, and then over the next week, the papers heavily laboured on how the RAF had returned the favour and heavily bombed Berlin. Some examples of the type of poster displayed by the government is of real life scenes, where everything is continuing as per usual, or scenes of extraordinary courage or heroism, or even humour. Censorship, on the other hand was slightly different.
Instead of portraying false images, when you sensor something, you simply conceal parts of the truth. For example, newsreels didn’t show images of bombed out cinemas, stations in ruins, mass funerals or extreme grief. They only showed the positive side of the war, such as triumphant soldiers. And then when a story had to be shown, like the Balham tube story, the seriousness was reduced by generalising the statistics. Pictures of bombed out craters and bridges, had the rubble all around shaded in to minimise the effect.
And then many images were simply not shown, such as bodies in sacks following attack on Catford Girls School. The purpose of all this was to keep the public in the dark. In wartime, it is often necessary not to tell the public everything. This is because if the public knew that 260 battle ships had been sunk during the duration of the Second World War, or that 67% of the civilian population had been killed by the end of the war that they would surely call it to a stop, not thinking about the dictatorship that would soon follow.
It is because the public as a whole do not have the ability at times like war to look ahead and think, 67% of the population dead, but it would more likely have been 80% had they let Hitler take control. And that is the reason censorship and propaganda was necessary, to ensure that Britain did the right thing. The ministry of information was one of the key sections in the government. They were in charge of securing the media, and it was thanks to them that the public didn’t demand surrender.
They would not allow any films or pictures showing suffering, but instead focused on heroism and courage. Also, just before a film was shown a propaganda video was put on, such as ‘why we fight’ or ‘neighbours under fire’. These scenes showed images of a country working together and helping one another. For instance shop keepers giving food away, and sometimes rehearsed interviews where people saying how they ‘dam hope Hitler gets what’s coming to him’ and how they want the war to go on until they totally destroy Germany.
These scenes usually addressed the issues that some people felt, such as some people didn’t want us to go and bomb Germany back the same way they were bombing Britain, as they thought that it was horrific. So the ministry of information put together a film that had a set of people, all stating how we should ‘bomb Germany to high heaven’. This counter propaganda was often slipped in with the news reports, making it harder still to tell the difference between the truth and lies. In 1939, (as already stated), to aid the ministries in securing the media, the British government introduced the ’emergency powers act’ and the ‘defence of realm act’.
The emergency powers act contained clauses giving the government wide powers to create Defence Regulations which regulated almost every aspect of everyday life in the country. The defence of realm act (DORA) again gave the government wide-ranging powers during the war period, such as censorship and the power to requisition buildings or land needed for the war effort. Some of the things the British public were not allowed to do included: flying a kite, lighting a bonfire, buying binoculars, feeding wild animals bread, discussing naval and military matters or buying alcohol on public transport.
Alcoholic beverages were watered down. The DORA ushered in a variety of authoritarian social control mechanisms including some that are still in use today, such as the Winston Churchill supported British Summer Time which was enacted in May 1916 as a novel device for boosting wartime production. The government also used newspapers as another means to create propaganda. Articles were created that displayed courage and informed the public that ‘Britain wasn’t taking it lying down’.
A feeling of calm and community was sent through the pictures, and the government tried to convince the public that they had it under control. The papers also used pictures such as a shop keeper (after a raid) flying the union flag. This was designed to emanate patriotic feelings in all the viewers and a sense of, ‘were in this together’. Another scene is of a couple getting married in a totally derelict church or cathedral. Other headlines sent out were things like ‘Britain can take it’, again, stating that they have it under control, and not to panic, but to keep on going.
They also used quotes such as ‘parliamentary business will not be interrupted by enemy action’, which was a statement made by Churchill himself. (London 11th May) The papers were packed full of propaganda, nearly every article in it was either written by or provided by the government. (Quote from the ‘London’ 13th May). “There have been no more raids since the big one on May 10th, and the Londoners are enjoying the lull. Pre war estimates were 600,000 dead as the wrong predictions were made – millions of cardboard coffins were not needed and 750,000 hospital beds were not needed.
Nothing had been planned the 2,250,000 homeless”. And every time a paper was about to go to print, the ministry of information would check it and make sure no negative comments were in the papers. However, the newspapers did have to tell the nation of some facts. For instance: the papers gave a daily death rate in each city that had been bombed the previous day, an also gave information on things like ships being sunk etc. Photographs were a major part in ww2 propaganda. The ministry of intelligence took photos and manipulated them to display the things they were looking for.
For example, one particular poster showed a truck full of men all cheering and laughing as they drive over a bridge. Everything under the bridge was blacked out, as what was under the bridge was total destruction. However, with one simple action, the picture transformed from being a triumphant, yet sad battle scene, to a joyful truck of cheering men. This kind of image was used to encourage men to join the army. And it worked. But not all propaganda posters were aimed at men. Many were aimed at women to. These two examples show women ‘playing their part in the war.
The one on the right is designed to encourage the loyal wife to work, as it shows, subliminally, that behind every man there is a woman to back him up. The fact that the men are shadowed out suggests that not only is this poster aimed at women, but perhaps the women are more important than men in the war. This is but one of the many examples showing how important images in propaganda were. They not only were used to persuade people to come round to the ‘right’ way of thinking, but they also portrayed false images (men on truck).
Since well before the blitz the government were showing pre-film videos which acted as a sort of news report, informing the public of all the precautions they should take, and the ones that were being made by the government. Many phrases were designed to stand out, such as ‘avoid panic buying’, ‘don’t listen to rumours and ‘the warning may be short, prepare now! ‘ These films continued all the way through the Second World War and gradually contained more propaganda. One of the pre-war films was called ‘Britain prepares’.