How did people prepare for the war at home?
Britain started to prepare for the Second World War at least a year before it actually started.
In 1938, the government began to build new warships and increase its armaments. However, this war would not just involve soldiers. The government expected the war to disrupt and threaten the lives of civilians left at home. This happened in a variety of different ways, from cutting down railings to be melted down and used in munitions factories, to rationing and evacuation plans.
Between 1938 and 1939, the government thought of all the possible dangers and difficulties the Home Front would face during war, and started to take precautions. People were needed on the home front to help with all sorts of things. They were encouraged to plant vegetables on any spare land they had to supplement the rationing, but people were also recruited into a variety of essential positions such as Air Raid Wardens and the Home Guard. People were also encouraged to think about their safety, and the government spent a great deal of time educating people on what to do in situations such as an air raid, or a gas attack, as well as providing information on how to make rations stretch further and how to keep yourself healthy.
- Why did the government want the Home Front to 'Dig for Plenty'?
- If the Home Front had not organised growing more of its own food, what would have happened?
- Would a poster showing what would happen if people did not start to 'dig' have been more or less effective? Explain your answer.
1. Look at Source 1. This is one of a series of posters designed to encourage people to grow their own food.
- Who is the ghostly figure whispering 'Take them back!'?
- Where is he pointing?
- What does he want the mother to do and why?
- Why might this mother be tempted to 'Take them back'?
- Why were civilians evacuated during the Second World War?
2. Read Source 2. This is a government poster about evacuation.
- Who produced these leaflets?
- What dangers are these leaflets about?
- How many different types of gas masks would the government have to provide?
- How useful do you think the advice offered in these leaflets is?
- The government had to be careful not to scare people, but at the same time it wanted people to take notice and be prepared. How do these leaflets:
- get people to take notice?
- educate people?
- reassure people?
3. Look at Sources 3 a, b and c. These were leaflets produced during the war.
- What type of war work does this poster advertise?
- What is happening in this poster?
- Can you explain the double meaning behind the caption?
- Why was the work of part-time women workers an essential part of defeating Hitler?
- How might this poster encourage women to contribute to the war effort?
4. Look at Source 4. This poster shows a woman slapping Hitler in the face.
- What dangers do these sources warn the public about?
- Who was the local air raid warden for Drypool Green?
- What was the air raid signal for 'all clear'?
- In the months leading up to September 1939 many towns practised their air raid signals and taking shelter. Why do you think this was necessary?
- Read the section in Source 5a called 'Fire Precautions'. Which parts are the public
- likely to follow?
- likely to ignore?
- Look at Source 5b. Read all the labels. How would each precaution help save lives if there was an air raid?
5. Look at Sources 5 a and b. These are wartime warning posters.
- Why were mines placed on the beaches?
- What is Mr. Cleave complaining about?
- According to Mr. Cleave, was placing mines on the beach an effective way of protecting Britain?
- Do you think Mr. Cleave was being unreasonable?
- What does this source tell us about the power the government had over people's lives during the Second World War?