Describe the effects of the Blitz on everyday life in Britain? Essay

A2. The destruction made by the Blitz made a huge impact on the citizens of Britain. Well know land marks, historic buildings, shops, offices, factories and homes were destroyed. This devastating reality on the door step of everyone’s home increased as 30,000 people were killed during the bombings and a further 50,000 were seriously injured. The main areas destroyed were the East London, Coventry and the docklands. The air attacks on the cities of Britain increased and civil defence preparations were made both at national and local level.

Anderson shelters were made in people’s back gardens of corrugated steel and earth. Large civic shelters built of brick and concrete were constructed in town for communal shelter. The night raids became so frequent that many people were tired of repeatedly interrupting their sleep to go back and forth to the street shelters so they took up residence in a shelter. To solve the same problem in London the solution was to move down in their thousands to the tube stations. It became very popular and soon became a common sight in the underground.

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However only 4% of London’s population went under ground and 60% stayed in their shelter or did not use them at all. On the 1st September 1939 blackouts were introduced to prevent the German fighter planes from finding their targets. People had to buy thick dark curtains or stick brown paper on over their windows. White strips were painted on the pavement kerbs and the lamp posts to help people find there way around in the dark. Cars were not allowed any headlights and the street lights were turned off. This increased the number of car accidents dramatically killing many people.

To solve this problem people could only use car headlights with hoods over them and people were allowed to use torches cover with tissue paper. The government wanted children out of the cities before the bomber attacked. To achieve this they organised an evacuation on the 1st of September 1939. The evacuation was voluntary and was expected 3. 5 million people to leave to the safety of the countryside, but only 1. 5 million people did, of these only 735,000 were children. Matters were made worse when the bombings did not start in 1939. Many people wondered want the fuss was about.

By March 1940 1. 3 million children returned home with there children however there opinion changed as German took over France and were prepared to invade England. The government set up a second evacuation in June 1940 as the Blitz had started. The government listed 9 areas to be evacuated which included London, Liverpool, Manchester and Southampton. 62,000 children were evacuated to the country side. In 1944 a third evacuation took place for only London children. There were many problems when the evacuees reached there designated areas as most villages were disorganised.

Villages expecting young children received hundreds of pregnant women. Some villagers inspected the evacuees and picked the ones they wanted leaving behind any who looked difficult to look after. This put a massive strain on the evacuees as they quickly had to adapt to their new surroundings and way of life. There were many good and bad factors about the evacuation. The Evacuation saved lives and promoted the government, as they supported all classes boosting the morale of the people. It also created opportunity for the children as most had not travelled this far from home.

However the bomb damage was nowhere near the prediction and cost i??9 million which could have been used on the war. Further more the evacuation caused emotional stress as families were separated. Rationing was introduced to maximise the war effort and create more factories producing suitable products to help the war. The manufacture of non essential foods and goods such as chocolate and fine clothes was cut back and very difficult to obtain. In 1939 two thirds of Britain’s food and material came from abroad however the enemy sank thousands of ships creating a shortage of food.

The government solved these problems in two ways. They encourage people to produce their own food and raw materials and cut back on the food and goods people could buy by rationing. Butter, bacon and sugar were rationed from 1940, and then it extended to clothes in 1941 as well as petrol in 1942. Many people benefited during the war as they had a healthier diet and life style. As there was no abundance of sugar, meat and fat the government encouraged to grow there own vegetables having a heather diet. Both parents also had to work having an ample amount of exercise.

Black marketing was a popular event which occurred frequently in towns, where the rationing choice was limited as most to the shops closed down. The government set up campaigns which were highly persuasive and led to off ration dishes, recycling, maintenance tips and salvaging. As rationing was applied to all classes the social barriers were dropped as everyone was equally. Even Buckingham Palace was hit creating a spirit of solidarity. A good example of the success of rationing is shown by the change of life style by the poor as they now had a constant supply of food.

The Blitz created opportunities for the women of this era to have independence as they worked side by side with men for the first time. During world war one women volunteered for essential work such as building tanks, work in rescue teams or factories. This enabled the men to go into the armed forces. However 25 years later things had drastically changed as the government campaigned again for volunteers to work nevertheless they now also needed to conscript women as well as men.

From spring 1941 every woman in Britain aged 18-60 had to be registered and their family occupations were recorded. They were required to choose from a range of jobs and the government emphasised that women would not be required to handle weapons. In December 1941 the National Service Act made the conscription of woman legal. At first only single woman aged 18-20 were called up but by 1943 90% of single woman and 80% of married woman were working. This made a huge impact of the war as they increased the war effort.

However by the end of 1943 many women eventually work and die under fire. There were many government organisations women could join to help the war efforts such as the Air raid Precautions (ARP), Woman’s Land Army the fire service and Woman’s Voluntary Services (WVS). The WVS was the largest single woman’s organisation at this time and had had over a million members supporting the civil defence teams and providing service for the local people. Their typical contributions include organising evacuations, shelters, mobile canteens and clothing exchanges.

In spring 1939 the Women’s Royal Navy (WRNS) and Woman’s Auxiliary Air Force (WAAF) was reformed. The WRNS recruited woman aged 18-50 to maintain ships and was also involved with the planning of D-Day. The WAAF served with allied forces to bomb the enemy. This progress through out the war by women was a huge success as they broke through the stereotypical image of the ‘wife at home’ however when the war ended the government urged the women to give up there jobs a return home as the men wanted there jobs back.

Many women did and gave right to be equal among men and through there independents away. Nevertheless at the end of 1950 there were more women working then there was in 1940. The effect of the blitz changed the lives of everyone in Britain. The government control the nation by maximising the population war effort. This was done by rationing, evacuations, blackouts and shelters. Censorship was used to create high morale and promote the war. However as the Germans targeted civilian and industrial targets the war could not be hidden from these people forever.


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