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Glossary - R

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R.B. Bennett

Canadian Prime Minister 1930-35 who dominated the 1932 Ottawa Imperial Conference, and who hoped imperial preference would defeat the depression. A rich businessman who personally gave millions to charity, his policies did little to help ordinary people escape the Depression. Retired to England and was elevated to the House of Lords in 1941.

Rachman Scandal

Unscrupulous exploitation of tenants in the Notting Hill area of London in the 1950s and 1960s, landlord Peter Rachman built up a property empire, using mansion blocks for multi-occupation. He drove out (mostly white) sitting tenants re-letting properties to immigrants from the West Indies, to who he charged exorbitant rents.

Radio Caroline

Pirate' unlicensed pop radio station first set up in 1964, broadcasting 24 hours-a-day in the English language. Massively popular with the young and financed by advertising. Precursor of current-day commercial radio. A response to its popularity by the BBC led to Radio 1.


A central Iraqi city and capital of the Al Anbar province west of Baghdad, it is bordered by the Euphrates River to the north and west and hosts the main railway line into Syria.


A technique used in air, sea and land combat, involving hitting a target by running oneself on to it. The term originated from the use of the battering ram, a siege weapon used to bring down fortifications by force. The momentum of the ram was sufficient to damage the target.

Ramsay MacDonald

Prime Minister in the first Labour governments between 1924-1955 and 1929-1931. Faced with the crisis of the Great Depression he formed a National Government from 1931-1935, remaining Prime Minister in a government mainly made up of Conservatives. He was expelled from the Labour party.


Located in lower Burma where the Rangoon and Bago Rivers meet, close to the Gulf of Martaban, it is Burma's most populous city and most important commercial centre. It was the capital from independence from Britain in 1948 until 2006. Renamed Yangon by the ruling military junta in 1989

rank and file membership

Ordinary members of a body, organisation, political party or trade union who have no elected responsibilities


The process of reorganisation, which is intended to make an industry more efficient, logical and profitable. It may involve dispensing with superfluous capacity or closing factories

Regional Employment Premiums

Introduced in 1967 as a labour subsidy. Initially 30 shillings per adult male per week - less for women and young people - to encourage firms to open manufacturing plants in Development Areas. It was doubled in 1974, then abolished due to policy changes in 1977

René Pleven

Notable French politician and member of the wartime resistance movement the Free French, he helped found the Democratic and Socialist Union of the Resistance. As Prime Minister in the 1950s he introduced the Pleven Plan, calling for a European Defence Community with France, Italy, West Germany and the Benelux Countries

Rhondda, Lord

Liberal MP for Merthyr Tydfil from 1888-1910. Sent to the US by Lloyd George to negotiate supplies of war munitions during the First World War. His success led to a Peerage and a successful appointment as Minister for Rationing between 1917-1918

Republic of Korea

Name given to Korea south of the 38th parallel after the Second World War


German province on the east-bank of the Rhine, bordering France. Demilitarised by the Versailles Treaty 1919 and the Locarno treaties in 1925, it was occupied by the Allies for 15 years to ensure German compliance. The Alies withdrew early and Hitler remilitarised the Rhineland 1936. Britain and France concurred

Richard Beeching, Dr

Chairman of British Railways and author of 'The Reshaping of Britain's Railways' in 1963. The report resulted in the closure of one third of Britain's railway lines, many rural stations and the removal of many freight services, in an attempt to make the railways profitable in the face of the growth of road transport

Richard 'Rab' Butler

Conservative politician close to the centre of power from 1941 and 1964, and holder of key Cabinet posts. His most enduring legacy is probably the 1944 Education Act which secured secondary education for all and provided access to grammar schools through competitive examinations, and thereafter to Higher Education

Richard Crossman

Journalist and Labour politician who held office in Harold Wilson's government. Editor of 'New Statesman' between 1970-1972. He is probably best known for his political diaries, which kept a detailed record of the day-to-day workings of government, and were published between 1975-1981, despite attempts to suppress them

Richard Nixon

American President from 1969-1974. Resigned rather than face impeachment over the Watergate affair. Foreign policy successes included 'détente' and the normalisation of relations with Communist China through 'ping pong' diplomacy. Although his handling of the Vietnam War created controversy, he ended US involvement in 1973

River Lys

River in France and Belgium, starting in the Pas de Calais, it runs into the Scheldt then into the North Sea

Robert Borden

Canadian Prime Minister between 1911-1920. Played a large part in ensuring Canada's identity as an individual country during the First World War. Pledged half a million troops to the war effort, leading to the conscription crisis of 1917, which split the country on linguistic lines. Represented Canada at the Paris Peace Conference in 1919

Robert Carr

Conservative MP, and Secretary of State for Employment in Edward Heath's 1970 government, introducing the Industrial Relations Act 1971, which limited strike action and ended union 'closed shop' agreements. He became Home Secretary between 1972-1974, before becoming a Life Peer in 1976

Robert Vansittart, Sir

A diplomat and uncompromising opponent of Nazism. A strong advocate of rearmament, believing Hitler was exploiting fears of a 'Bolshevik menace' as a cover for expansion in Central and Southern Europe. Favoured redirecting Germany's land hunger towards Africa. Ignored by Neville Chamberlain, he retired in 1941


Egyptian town in Sinai, used as a base to protect the Suez Canal in the First World War

Ronald Waterhouse, Sir

Stanley Baldwin's private secretary during his time as Prime Minister. The Private Secretary is the Chief Civil Servant in 10 Downing street, responsible to the Chief of the Civil Service

Ronco River

River in Northern Italy, part of the Gothic Line - Germany's last-ditch defensive line established by Kesselring across Northern Italy and the scene of a major campaign in Autumn 1944

Rowland Prothero

A British administrator, author and politician with a particular interest in agriculture. Elected as Conservative MP in 1914, he held office as President of the Board of Agriculture between 1916-1919, introducing a guaranteed price for wheat. Appointed a Privy Councillor in 1916, he became a Life Peer in 1919

Royal College of Surgeons

Set up by Royal Charter in 1800 to regulate and supervise the work and training of surgeons

Royal Commission

A major government public enquiry into a matter of great importance or controversy. Restricted only by its own specific 'terms of reference', it involves research and consultation, both with experts and the public. Results are published and recommendations are usually acted upon by government

Royal Irish Constabulary

One of Ireland's two police forces in the early 20th century, alongside the Dublin Metropolitan Police. Disbanded in 1922 on partition, and replaced by two new police forces, the Garda Siochana in the Irish Free State (now the Irish Republic) and the Royal Ulster Constabulary

Royal Ordinance Factories

The Government's munitions factories during and after the Second World War. Many were built in the run-up to the Second World War, especially sited in areas regarded as 'relatively safe'

Ruth Ellis

The last woman to receive the death penalty in the United Kingdom. She was convicted of the murder of her lover, David Blakely, and was hanged at Holloway Prison in London in 1955