World War IIDebt, ID cards, National Health and BadFood!
World War II was the most destructiveconflict in history. It cost more money,damaged more property, killed morepeople, and caused more far-reachingchanges than any other war in history.Two world wars in 30 years hadbankrupted Britain.In 1945, Britain badly needed money topay for reconstruction and also toimport food for a nation worn downafter years of rationing.The original loan was for $4.3 billionfrom the US - the equivalent of about£27 billion in todays moneyOn December 31st 2006, the UK paid$83m (£45.5m) to the US to dischargethe last of its loans from World War IIfrom its transatlantic ally.
The government introduced NationalRegistration Identity Cards in WorldWar II.Everyone, including children, had tocarry an identity (ID) card at all timesto show who they were and wherethey lived.The identity card gave the ownersname and address, includingchanges of address.Each person was allocated aNational Registration number andthis was written in the top right handcorner on the inside of the card.The police, army and Home Guardchecked identity cards for securityreasons. It was believed that this The letters were either A or B and indicated athelped in the detection of foreign the date of issue whether the holder was overspies and Nazi paratroopers. Butthere was never a case of an enemy 21 (A), or over 16 but under 21 respectivelyspy being discovered for lack of an (B).identity card.
The British wartime identity card scheme wasabolished in 1952, but another use was found for theregistration numbers.When the National Health Service (NHS) was set upin 1948, the National Registration Numbers wereused for patients records. Each persons NationalRegistration number became his or her patientrecord number.And so the register became the Central Register forthe NHS for England and Wales.
Why was rationing introduced?To make the British weak, the Germans tried to cutoff supplies of food and other goods. Germansubmarines attacked many of the ships that broughtfood to Britain.Before the war, Britain imported 55 million tons offood, a month after the war had started this figurehad dropped to 12 million.The Ration Book became the key tosurvival for nearly every household inBritain. Every member of the public was issuedwith a ration book.When did food rationing stop?Fourteen years of food rationing in Britain ended atmidnight on 4 July 1954, when restrictions on thesale and purchase of meat and bacon were lifted.This happened nine years after the end of the war.
The Blitz was Nazi Germanys sustained aerialResilience bombing campaign against Britain in order to soften up the British population and to destroy morale before the planned invasion,. The raids killed 43,000 civilians and lasted for eight months, petering out when Hitler began to focus on his plans for Russian invasion in May 1941. ‘Blitz Spirit’ born in World War II, engrained in British culture ever since and most recently demonstrated in the clear-up after the 2011 London Riots.
QueuingThe waiting game: Rationing abounded but many Britons reveled in post-war hardships
People had to produce their identitycard alongside their ration book toprove that they were entitled to theirshare of food or clothes.This stopped black market trading inloose rations or people using thecoupons that belonged to someoneelse.The shopkeeper made sure that thecorrect person was claiming thefood by checking that the cards andration books matched. In 1943 registration and rationingwere combined and a fresh set ofidentity cards were issued at thesame time as the new ration books.
One possible reason for English foodbeing perceived as bland is the effectof the last World War on Englishculture. Food rationing didnt finallyend here until 1954, and many non-staple foods didnt become availableuntil later that decade.Many Brits (including mygrandparents) regarded any non-blandfood as `foreign’, such as bananasand rice.A typical meal is roast meat, potatoesand two or three varieties of boiledvegetables.
Britain could not havewon either of the WorldWars without thecontribution made bynon-British soldiers.This was nothing new. TheBritish Empire relied heavily onnon-British troops to secure itsnew territories.The largest of these was theIndian Army, whose troopsserved throughout Asia andAfrica.Over 2.5 million Indians – Sikhs,Hindus and Muslims – servedwith the British armed forcesduring the Second World War.
One of the 31 recipients of theVictoria Cross was Havildar GajeGhale, who in May 1943 was incommand of D platoon, 2ndbattalion, 5th Royal GurkhaRifles. Although badly wounded,he continued to lead a chargeagainst the Japanese forces onthe Tiddim Road in Burma.The citation for his VC statedthat he had “dominated thefight” with “his outstandingexample, doubtless courage andsuperb leadership … Covered inblood from his own wounds, heled assault after assault”.
"Better to die than be a coward”Gurkhas have been part of the BritishArmy for almost 200 yearsTraditional weapon - an 18-inch longcurved knife known as the kukri.The potential of these warriors firstrealized by the British at the height oftheir empire-building in the last century.After suffering heavy casualties in theinvasion of Nepal, the British East IndiaCompany signed a hasty peace deal in1815, which allowed it to recruit from theranks of the former enemy.Partition of India in 1947, meant fourGurkha regiments from the Indian armywere transferred to the British Army,eventually becoming the Gurkha Brigade. Once a kukri was drawn in battle, it had to "taste blood" - if not, its owner had to cut himself before returning it to its sheath.
The France and Germany Star was awarded forservice in France, Belgium, the Netherlands,Germany and adjacent sea areas between 6June 1944 and 8 May 1945.D-Day
The 1939–45 Star awarded for operationalservice between 3 September 1939 and 2September 1945.Army personnel had to complete 6 monthsservice in an operational command.
War Medal 1939–1945 was a Britishdecoration awarded to those whohad served in the Armed Forces orMerchant Navy full-time for at least28 days between 3 September 1939and 2 September 1945.