Woeful World War II
The British homefront: Evacuation
Whilst bombing raids were attacking parts of England,
many children were forced to live in the countryside
(in long separation from families and friends) until it was much safer to return.
Operation Pied piper
The evacuation of Britain's cities at the start of World War Two was the biggest and most concentrated
mass movement of people in Britain's history. In the first four days of September 1939, nearly 3,000,000
people were transported from towns and cities in danger from enemy bombers to places of safety in the
Most were schoolchildren, who had been labelled like pieces of luggage, separated from their parents and
accompanied instead by a small army of guardians - 100,000 teachers. By any measure it was an
astonishing event, a logistical nightmare of co-ordination and control beginning with the terse order to
'Evacuate forthwith,' issued at 11.07am on Thursday, 31 August 1939. Few realised that within a week, a
quarter of the population of Britain would have a new address.
Talking to evacuees now about the events of those days in 1939 recalls painful memories that have been
deeply hidden for 60 years, exposing the trauma of separation and isolation and the tensions of fear and
anger. Most were unaware of where they were going, what they would be doing and all were wholly
ignorant of when they would be coming back.
The fear of air attack from German bombers at the start of hostilities encouraged parents to send their
children to safety. There were predictions of 4,000,000 civilian casualties in London alone, and, as early
as 1922 - after the air threat from Zeppelins - Lord Balfour had spoken of 'unremitting bombardment of a
kind that no other city has ever had to endure'.
The Government had stockpiled coffins, erected masses of barrage balloons and planned, at least in
outline, for the mass evacuation of British cities before 1939. But it is now revealed that these plans were
In the first place, the estimates of casualties were grossly over-exaggerated and the subsequent
Government propaganda caused near panic rather than controlled movement. In addition, the man in
charge of evacuation, Sir John Anderson, was a cold, inhuman character with little understanding of the
emotional upheaval that might be created by evacuation.
To make the British weak, the Germans tried to cut off supplies of food and other goods. German submarines
attacked many of the ships that brought food to Britain.
Rationing was introduced to make sure that everyone had a fair share of the items that were hard to get hold
of during the war.
Rationing was introduced at the beginning of 1940. On National Registration Day on 29 September 1939,
every householder had to fill in a form giving details of the people who lived in their house. Using the
information gathered on National Registration Day, the government issued every on with an identity card and
ration book. The books contained
Coupons that had to be handed to or signed by the shopkeeper every time rationed goods were bought. This
meant that people could only buy the amount they were allowed. These were books which contained coupons
that shopkeepers cut out or signed when people bought food and other items. People still had to pay for the
goods with money.
To make sure that everybody got a fair share. The government was worried that as food and other items
became scarcer, prices would rise and poorer people might not be able to afford things. There was also a
danger that some people might hoard items, leaving none for others. Some people considered food rationing
to be very unfair. Eggs, butter and meat could be obtained fairly easily without coupons in rural areas.
By the summer of 1941 greengrocers in the towns were taking their Lorries into the country to buy vegetables
direct from growers.
Fourteen years of food rationing in Britain ended at midnight on 4 July 1954, when restrictions on the sale
and purchase of meat and bacon were lifted. This happened nine years after the end of the war.
The blitz & air raid shelters
It was dangerous living in a big city during the war. Cities were the target of enemy aircraft that flew over at
night and dropped bombs. At 4:56pm on 7 September 1940, the air raid sirens wailed as the German Air
Force, the Luftwaffe launched a massive raid on London. Over 350 bombers flew across the Channel from
airfields in France and dropped 300 tonnes of bombs on the docks and streets of the East End of London. The
enemy attacks from the Luftwaffe (the German air force) were called Air Raids. The heavy and frequent bombing
attacks on London and other cities were known as the 'Blitz'. Night after night, from September 1940 until May 1941,
German bombers attacked British cities, ports and industrial areas.
London was bombed ever day and night for 11 weeks. One third of London was destroyed. Blitz is a shorten form of the
German word 'Blitzkrieg' which means lightning war.
People were warned of a likely air raid by loud sirens, positioned in
different parts of towns and cities. During the blitz, they became an
almost daily part of life.
Most Air raids would often happen at night, People were warned of a The bombs destroyed many buildings burying
likely air raid by loud sirens, positioned in different parts of towns and mother, fathers and the blitz,the rubble
cities. During children in they became
an almost daily part of life.
The sirens made a very loud and long signal or warning sound. For an alert, the siren sound pitch rose and fell
alternately. The All Clear was a continuous sound from the siren. Not every alert brought a raid, and
sometimes raids happened when no alert had sounded.
When people heard the siren they would stop what they were doing and make for a shelter. The first German
air attack took place in London on the evening of 7 September 1940. Within months, Liverpool, Birmingham,
Coventry and other cities were hit too. People needed to protect themselves from the bombs being dropped by
As the night raids became so frequent, many people who were tired of repeatedly interrupting their sleep to
go back and forth to the shelters almost took up residence in a shelter. An example of a shelter was the
Anderson Shelters. These shelters were half buried in the ground with earth heaped on top to protect them
from bomb blasts.
The shelters had been made out of six An example of an Anderson Shelter being built
corrugated iron sheets bolted together by a family in their Garden. at
the top, with steel plates at either end, and measured 6ft 6in by 4ft 6in
(1.95m by 1.35m). The entrance was protected by a steel shield and an earthen blast wall. By
September 1939 one and a half million Anderson shelters had been put up in gardens. The
Anderson Shelters were dark and damp and people were reluctant to use them at night.
In low-lying areas the shelters tended to flood and sleeping was difficult as they did not keep out
the sound of the bombings. Anderson shelters were given free to poor people. Men who earned
more than £5 a week could buy one for £7.
The Morrison Shelter was introduced in March 1941, for people without gardens. The shelter,
made from heavy steel, could also be used as a table. People sheltered underneath it during a raid.
The Morrison shelter was named after the Minister for
Home Security, Mr. Herbert Morrison.
The Morrison shelter was approximately 6 feet 6 inches
(2m) long, 4 feet (1.2m) wide and 2 feet 6 inches (0.75m)
6 feet 6 inches long by 4 feet wide by 2 feet 6 inches
high, with a solid 1/8 inch steel plate top, welded wire
mesh sides, and a metal lath mattress floor,
An example of a Morrison Shelter in a home.
assembled from 359 individual parts Working
Woman before WW2 were expected to be housewives and do jobs such as nursing or
shop assistant because it was thought that they were only good as jobs like that. But
when the men went to work the woman were told to fill the men’s job which included
jobs that were believed to be not suitable for them.
Jobs done by woman during the war:
• Building ships
• Working in factories - making bombs and aircraft parts
• Air raid wardens
• Driving fire engines
• Ambulance drivers
A poster advertising the land Army. The poster was
• WRVS volunteers aiming at women and persuading them to join the land
army because it would lead a more ‘healthy’ and ‘happy
• Nurses job’.
• Tank drivers
Many women decided that they would work in a factory. They worked in all manner of
production ranging from making ammunition to uniforms to aeroplanes. The hours they
worked were long and some women had to move to where the factories were. Those
who moved away were paid more. Skilled women could earn £2.15 a week. To them
this must have seemed a lot. But men doing the same work were paid.
The Holocaust was one of the most horrific events of the 20th century when
approximately 6 million Jewish people were killed by orders from Adolf Hitler, the man in
charge of the Nazis. The holocaust was based on getting people from different races, skin
colour and religions (mainly the Jews) into concentration camps were they would be either
tortured, killed or do hard activities. This had caused much suffering to those whose families
were in the concentration camps.
Treatment of Jews in Nazi Germany
During the holocaust, the Germans had also decidedly targeted disabled people as well as those
who had suffered from mental illnesses. Others included the Roma people of whom they called
gypsies. Anti-Semitism, an expression of hostility towards Jews, has existed for hundreds of
years. To many Gentiles, those with different customs and values posed a threat. Others hated
Jews if they were successful and wealthy. Jealousy was a motive for prejudice. Anti-Semitism
peaked with the rise of Nazism in the 1930s and 40s. Under Hitler, Jews were chastised,
restricted, beaten, tortured and killed. Antisemitic North Americans shared Hitler’s view that
Jews were the enemy.
There were concentration camps, forced labour
camps, extermination or death camps, transit camps,
and prisoner-of-war camps. The living conditions of
all camps were horrible. All the camps were in old
factories in Poland because Hitler thought that if they
were in Germany people would come across them.
A young mother and her two children sit
among a large group of Jews from
Lubny who have been assembled for
mass execution on October 16, 1941.
German soldiers of the Waffen-SS and
the Reich Labor Service look on as a
member of Einsatzgruppe D prepares to
shoot a Jew kneeling on the edge of a
mass grave filled with the bodies of
Part of a report detailing murder of Jews in the Nazi-occupied Baltic States and White Russia by Einsatzgruppe A submitted February 1, 1942. There were four such
Einsatzgruppen which carried out the massacres of Jews in the Soviet Union.
The Nazis set up ghettos in Poland. Polish and western European Jews
were taken to these ghettos. During the German invasion of the Soviet
Union in 1941, mobile killing squads began killing Jewish
communities. The methods used, mainly shooting or gas vans, were
soon regarded as inefficient and as a psychological burden on the
killers. After the Wannsee Conference in January 1942, the Nazis began
the systematic deportation of Jews from all over Europe to six
extermination camps established in former Polish territory -- Chelmno,
Belzec, Sobibor, Treblinka, Auschwitz-Birkenau, and Majdanek.
Extermination camps were killing centers designed to carry out
genocide. Over three million Jews were gassed in extermination camps.
In its entirety, the "Final Solution" consisted of gassings, shootings, and
random acts of terror, disease, and starvation that caused the death of
6 million Jews
The final Solution
The Jewish people would be told they were taking a shower together. They
would follow a guard to the shower rooms where they would be locked in and
instead of water coming out of the sprinklers it would be zyklon b a poisonous
gas that can kill in 13 seconds.
The Nazi regime was so dedicated to the riddance of Jews in Europe that
priority was given to the Final Solution over military operations. Trains that
could have been moving military supplies were devoted to moving Jews from
all over Europe to the death camps. The camps allowed a full 40 percent of the
world's Jewish population to be exterminated
The plan of the gas chamber of Krema II in
Auschwitz the air extraction system (which the
Holocaust deniers claim didn't exist) is clearly
shown: Entlüftungskanal means air extraction
duct, and Belüftung means ventilation. Remains
of the air-extraction system can still be seen in
Weapons the ruins.
•Planes were used in the war to drop of bombs, other
technologies that also were used were Radar, and it's
underwater cousin, sonar had significant impact in
countless military battles.
• The Germans developed rocket propulsion that made the first ever
long range missiles possible. Nicknamed ‘Doodlebugs’ by the
British, these were launched from Germany and flew deep into
England before detonating. Fortunately, guidance systems were not
yet developed so they randomly fell in areas that sometimes
produced casualties and sometimes did not. After the war, the
scientist responsible for Germany rocketry came to work in the US
for NASA and made incredibly important contributions to the US
space program. His name was Warner Von Braun. *NOTE* The
Doodlebug, also called buzz bomb, was one of Hitler's last
‘vengeance’ weapons. It was a 2,000 Lbs bomb with a mere range of
about 500 miles. They were "guided" by programming the simple 4-
bit computer on board to cause the missile to dive after a certain
number of rotations of the propeller on front. These were amazingly
accurate (to the nearest 1 1/2 mile) considering they were firing
blind. The first considered successful attack occurred against London
on June, 13 1944.The Germans were the first to produce a jet fighter,
but it came too late in the war to have any strategic impact.
Atomic bombs. This was probably the most important new
technology used in the war. The threat of nuclear weapons was
unleashed on mankind as a result of this wartime development.
Amphibious Landing Vehicles, the landing craft developed in the
lead up to D-Day.
The Germans developed a rubber coating (Albrecht - I am
probably spelling it wrong) for their U-boats. It had multiple
purposes, but its main purpose was to try and absorb radar waves
so the U-boats would be stealthier and less visible to Allied radar.
The coating also, to a lesser extent, made the U-boats quieter when
underwater so that Allied ships listening for underwater sounds
were less likely to hear the sounds of their onboard machinery etc.
It also didn't return as load of an echo from Allied sonar as did a
plain metal hull.
Assault rifles as a replacement for the bolt action / semiautomatic
rifles for the standard infantry soldier. The first standard issue
semi-automatic weapon (the M1 Garand) was put into circulation
with the U.S. Military.
Plastics and synthetic rubber.
The Jeep (which led to more automobiles on the streets).
Computers. 1936 was the first, but the British used them to help
break codes. British cryptanalyst, Alan Turing changed the course
of the Second World War and created the foundation for the
Aircraft carriers replacing battleships as the centrepiece of naval
warfare doctrine. The Americans had lots of battleships in WWII,
but used them mostly as floating anti-aircraft platforms. Some say
the aircraft carrier was responsible for the defeat of the Japanese.
The biggest difference in weapons from WW1 as compared to
WW2 was the use of tanks and aircraft.
They also mass produced sub machine guns such as the MP40 or
Thompson automatic rifle.
During the First World War the German air force carried out 103 aerial bombing raids over Great
Britain. The main targets were industrial cities, army camps and munitions factories. At first
Germany used Zeppelins to bomb Britain. However, these were fairly easy to shoot down so in
June 1917 Germany began sending the long-range bomber, the Gotha G-V, to Britain. The Gotha,
with its giant wingspan (24 metres), was easy to identify and at first created considerable panic in
those towns under attack. In the first raid over Folkestone, the Gotha bombing raid killed 95
people and wounded 195 more. This raid caused more casualties than any of the Zeppelin attacks
that had taken place in the early stages of the war.
The British used searchlights, anti-aircraft guns and fighter aircraft and balloon barrages against
the Gotha attacks. By the middle of 1918 a 51 mile long (82 km) balloon barrage was established
around London. The balloons were arranged in groups of three which were interconnected by
means of steel cable from which a number of light cables of about 1,000 ft (300 metres) length
hung vertically. This net barrage was mounted so high that enemy aircraft arriving to attack
would have difficulties in flying above it.
A total of 61 Gotha G-V aircraft were lost over Britain between September 1917 and May 1918.
Germany decided to abandon the policy of bombing Britain and for the rest of the war the Gotha
G-V was used over the Western Front.
The most important aspect of Hitler and his ideas was his hatred not only for the Jews but also of
other lower ethnical classes. Hitler believed that his struggle was in the defence of the Almighty
Creator. Hitler stated "by defending myself against the Jew, I am fighting for the work of the
Lord" (599). Taking away all other known history about Hitler; just his words alone can show his
rhetoric for hate and a touch of future plans. In his statement from before Hitler says that he is
"defending" himself against the Jew. But defensive means inaction or being prepared against an
offensive. And as we all found out-Hitler was an active person.
In contrast to other Nazi leaders, drawing on higher criticism and some branches of theologically
liberal Protestantism, Hitler advocated Positive Christianity, traditional Christianity purged of
everything that he found objectionable. Hitler never directed his attacks on Jesus himself, but
viewed traditional Christianity as a corruption of the original ideas of Jesus, whom Hitler
regarded as an Aryan opponent of the Jews. In Mein Kampf Hitler writes that Jesus "made no
secret of his attitude toward the Jewish people, and when necessary he even took the whip to
drive from the temple of the Lord this adversary of all humanity, who then as always saw in
religion nothing but an instrument for his business existence. In return, Christ was nailed to the
cross." Hitler downplayed the idea of Jesus' redemptive suffering, stating in 1927:
"My feelings as a Christian point me to my Lord and Savior as a fighter. It points me to the man
who once in loneliness, surrounded only by a few followers, recognized these Jews for what they
were and summoned men to fight against them and who, God's truth! Was greatest not as a
sufferer but as a fighter. In boundless love as a Christian and as a man I read through the passage
which tells us how the Lord at last rose in His might and seized the scourge to drive out of the
Temple the brood of vipers and adders. How terrific was His fight for the world against the
Jewish poison. Today, after two thousand years, with deepest emotion I recognize more
profoundly than ever before in the fact that it was for this that He had to shed His blood upon the
Cross. As a Christian I have no duty to allow myself to be cheated, but I have the duty to be a
fighter for truth and justice... And if there is anything which could demonstrate that we are acting
rightly it is the distress that daily grows."
1. There had been anti-Jewish prejudice of varying degrees of intensity in many parts of
Europe and elsewhere for a long time. A distinctive feature of Hitler's anti-Semitism was
that it was formulated as conspiracy theory. For many, especially in Bavaria, this went
hand in hand with the 'stab-in-the-back' theory, that is, with the view that Germany had not
been defeated on the battlefield but had been brought down by liberal, socialist and
Communist subversives on the home front. Potentially, this link made antisemitism
2. In much of Europe it was assumed that Jews were communists. In many hardline right wing
circles there was talk about a supposed 'Judeo-Bolshevist conspiracy'. This was highly
inflammatory. Despite his ranting against Jewish businessmen Hitler saw the Jews as the
'biological root' of Bolshevism. (See the link below on the influence of emigres from
LETTS: History: Modern British and World.
CGP: Modern World History