How well prepared was Britain for war in 1939

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ADVANCED HIGHER HISTORYHoly Cross High SchoolPREPARATIONS FOR WARTHE ARMYTHE RAF THE NAVYCIVILIAN PRECAUTIONSTHE SEARCH FOR ALLIESECONOMIC PRECAUTIONSINTRODUCTIONHow well prepared was Britain for war in 1939?The British Army in 1939 was a small, professional force. It was supported by the Territorial Army. At the outbreak of war the British Expeditionary Force dispatched to France was 12 divisions in size. This was from a total force of 50 full and part-time divisions. In addition to the forces of the British Army, also consider the size of the forces that the British army could draw on from the dominions and British colonies. These included a number of divisions from Australia, Canada, South Africa and New Zealand along with a large armed force of approximately 200,000 stationed on the Indian sub-continent. In terms of immediate preparedness this force was relatively small compared with the forces of other major combatants. The fully trained professional army was limited in size and it would take some time for troops from the dominions to reach Europe. The size of the army is only one indicator of military readiness for war, however. The machinery used by these forces also needs to be considered. The British forces had the advantage of having a fully motorised system of troop movement. This enabled relatively fast deployment of forces (The Wehrmacht were not entirely motorised at this stage). British artillery pieces were of high quality, a British 25 pound artillery piece was particularly accurate and successful in destroying enemy tanks, for example. However the armed vehicles of the British army at the time do not compare particularly favourably with those of their opponents. Tanks such as the 'Matilda' were difficult to destroy but lacked the manoeuvrability to engage in rapid attacks. Other armed vehicles, such as the tanks initially deployed into Northern Africa, had insufficient armour and suffered at the hands of an experienced Panzer commander. Other equipment included the Lee Enfield 303 rifle, the 'Tommy gun' which was a semi automatic sub-machine gun and the Sten gun. There were some problems with the reliability of some of these weapons, the Mark 2 Sten gun has been noted as being susceptible to jamming. However this gun could be easily dismantled and concealed which made it an ideal weapon to provide to resistance forces throughout Europe. The rifles and semi automatic weapons were supported by use of the 40lb Vickers 303 heavy machine gun which was extremely accurate and fired over 400 rounds per minute. The RAF in 1939 consisted of 135 squadrons. This comprised 74 bomber and 24 fighter squadrons. In addition to the 'fighting' wing of the RAF there were a number of army support squadrons, reconnaissance squadrons and torpedo bombers. These were assisted by an Auxiliary airforce of some 19 squadrons. Throughout 1939 preparations were made for a possible air war. This included large exercises in Southern France and practice blackouts in parts of England. By the outbreak of war, radar had been fitted to a number of Bleinheim bombers. This increased the chances of the bombers finding their target and provided early warning of enemy attacks. The on plane radar was supported by two systems of Radar detection. Chain Home and Chain Home Low were two networks of Radar station built along the south coast of England in the mid to late 1930's. Chain Home could detect formations of aircraft flying over the coast of France. This enabled the RAF to scramble fighter squadrons to intercept bomber formations and would allow the RAF to counter any Luftwaffe movements in the event of an attack on Northern France, the Low Countries or Britain. Chain Home Low provided radar coverage against low flying aircraft. The development of this system of Radar (there were 21 Chain Home stations and 30 Chain Home Low stations operational in 1940) meant that defensive sorties against the Luftwaffe could be easily coordinated. This was of paramount importance during the Battle of Britain. The Royal Navy was, in 1939, the largest naval force in the world. The fleet contained 15 Battleships, 7 Aircraft carriers, 66 cruisers, 184 Destroyers, 60 submarines and a number of support vessels. The main Naval base at Scapa Flow was considered to be impregnable and dominated the passage between the North Sea and the Atlantic Ocean. Additionally there were navies controlled by British Dominions. Though impressive in terms of size, the Royal Navy in 1939 had several weaknesses. Many of the capital ships were old, only 2 post dated the First World War. The air power of the Royal navy was limited to short range reconnaissance. Many ships of the Fleet were fitted with ASDIC, a radar system that could detect submarines. Again, this suffered from having a short range and was not effective when the submarines had surfaced. This combines to leave the fleet open to attack from German U Boats, with only Depth Charges available as effective means of attacking enemy submarines from onboard the ships - air cover was provided by the Coastal Command and British submarines patrolled the North Sea and Northern approaches. The White Paper of March 1935Concern about rearmament began with the Manchurian Crisis. In March 1932 a survey of defence needs was commissioned. Churchill's earliest references to rearmament in May and November 1932 were ill received, but the collapse of the Disarmament Conference in October 1933 combined with reports of German rearmament to influence the government. Defence estimates of ?102m in 193233 were the low point, and in 1934 they provided for only four new air squadrons. Churchill criticised Britain's position as fifth air power, and Baldwin said the government "will see to it that in air strength and air power this country shall no longer be in a position inferior to any country within striking distance of our shores."In July 1934 the cabinet accepted the defence survey and it was agreed to revise the air estimates to increase the RAF from 42 to 75 squadrons. Baldwin was strongly criticised, and replied by stating that the Rhine was now our defensive frontier. By November, Churchill claimed this programme was being surpassed by Germany, and Baldwin replied, "It is not the case that Germany is rapidly approaching equality with us ... our estimate is that we shall still have a margin in Europe alone of nearly 50 per cent." Not until March 1935, with a `Statement Relating to Defence, was rearmament stated to be necessary.?Locust Years: The White Paper of March 1936Rearmament began in a very muddled fashion. When Hitler announced his rearmament in March 1935 he told Simon and Eden that Germany had reached air parity. This was false, but gave rise to much alarm and reluctance to provoke Germany.Churchill claimed he had been right about the German air threat, and Baldwin, ignoring Air Ministry figures which showed Churchill was incorrect, stated in May 1935, "Where I was wrong was in my estimate of the future. There I was completely wrong. We were completely misled on that subject". However, an election was likely that year, and Baldwin had no intention of losing it. He supported the League in taking sanctions against Italy, and said, "I give you my word that there will be no great armaments". ?However, the government increased the air estimates and specifications for the Hurricane and Spitfire were followed by prototypes in November 1935 and May 1936.After the election, and failure to keep Italy out of the enemy camp, rearmament became more open. In March 1936 a White Paper and the appointment of Inskip as Minister for Coordination of Defence were announced, and in July Sir Hugh Dowding took over Fighter Command, and urged the government to lessen concentration on bombers. The White Paper owed much to Chamberlain. It provided for naval rearmament (including two battleships, one aircraft carrier and 19 new cruisers) and the increase of the RAF to a frontline strength of 1750 aeroplanes.The Loaded PauseIn November 1936, during a debate in which Churchill accused Baldwin of sloth in rearmament, Baldwin said, "Supposing I had gone to the country and said that Germany was rearming and we must rearm? Does anyone think that this pacific democracywould have rallied to that cry at that moment? I cannot think of anything that would have made the loss of that election from my point of view more certain". This was said in reference to East Fulham, but later twisted to imply that Baldwin had deceived the country in the election of 1935.It cannot be denied that, in spite of rising expenditure (193536, ?137m; 193637, ?186m), the years 193638 were ones of wishful thinking, and slow rearmament. In the RAF, the Blenheim and Hampden bombers were developed, but only a few British planes could reach Germany. Development of new models was slow. The Hurricane and Spitfire did not enter service until January and August 1938 respectively. Although Sir Robert Watson Watt explained radar in 1935, it was only in 1937 that the decision to develop it was taken and 1939 before the chain was complete. In the autumn of 1937 Chamberlain said, "I must frankly state that progress is not yet as fast as I should like". ?Rundown defence industries responded slowly, so that two aircraft carriers had to have Czechoslovak armour while the Bofors gun was bought from Sweden. Expenditure on the air force and navy hamstrung the army, and in February 1938 Inskip was unable to persuade the cabinet to alter its low priority. He admitted the army had only two divisions, and that these were gravely deficient in tanks. Thus, although defence spending rose (1937, ?198m; 1938, ?253m) and Britain was spending a higher proportion of the National Income than France, she was behind Germany and falling further behind, in some respects, as the years passed. In March 1938 the Defence Staff declared war with Germany would lead to ultimate defeat, and this should be borne in mind when considering Munich.?Almost Inexhaustible ResourcesThe crisis over Czechoslovakia brought defence matters to a head. In April 1938 a new programme of air development without financial restraints provided for 12,000, later 17,500, planes in two years. On 22 February 1939 production to the limit was allowed. Secret aeroplane works were developed and Arthur Purvis headed a purchasing mission to America which provided 400 planes. As Mowat says, "It was in the strengthening of her air power that the breathing spell afforded by Munich was of supreme value to Great Britain". The government began to borrow (?90m in 1938; ?380m in 1939), in addition to increasing defence spending which reached ?273m in 1939.Duff Cooper had been ineffective at the War Office but his successor, Hore Belisha, began to get things changed. Reequipping and stockpiling began, including the purchase of Brens from Czechoslovakia, and the limited role of the army was abandoned in January 1939. A BEF of 21 divisions was to be formed 10 were ready by January 1940. The Territorial Army was to double in size, and conscription was introduced in April 1939. Even the longawaited Ministry of Supply appeared the same month. Hoare declared, "I am convinced we could not be defeated in a short war by any knockout blow, and that in a long war our almost inexhaustible resources will ensure final victory."?Civil DefenceIn 1935 talks began at the Home Office, and in 1937 the Air Raid Precautions Act created Civil Defence. After Sir John Anderson was put in charge in October 1938 it expanded to include 11 million people. Two million "Anderson" shelters were provided. Provision for gas attack was made with the production of 38 million gas masks. Plans for evacuation and the hospital service were completed by Elliot at the Health Ministry. Provision was made to move one and three-quarter million children. Land girls, observer corps, auxiliary fire service and Womens Voluntary Service personnel were recruited. The airraid warden and rescue services were organised. A system of regional government was created. In January 1939 the National Service Handbook was distributed to every household, and in July 1939 the Civil Defence Act completed initial preparations. It was a meticulous programme, including every aspect of total war. At the time it excited jokes, and some of the preparations were unnecessary. But Britain was to be the first major industrial nation to face prolonged air attack.THE BRITISH ARMY IN 1939 PART 1The British army was expected to provide for home defence and for imperial garrisons but not to produce an expeditionary force on the continent of Europe. In May 1940 the British Expeditionary Force (BEF) commanded by General Lord Gort VC had been built up to 394,000 men with 5 Regular and 5 Territorial fighting Divisions on the Belgian frontier where the main German attack was expected. As an alternative to a war of attrition, the Germans had developed the concept of blitzkrieg or ‘lightning war’; an idea first suggested by British military writers. Blitzkrieg relied on rapid penetration on a narrow front by armour and motorised infantry with close air support. As in 1914, the British Army which went to war in 1939 was a small, long-service force which lacked the great reserves of trained soldiers necessary to bring it up to a size equal to those of its continental allies or enemies. Its main reserve was the part-time volunteer Territorial Army, which lacked training and was under-equipped. Thus it was able to send only 10 divisions to the continent in 1939 to stand beside the French. However, it had already begun to conscript young men and eventually built up fifty divisions. And it had an important source of additional strength in the forces of the empire and the dominions. The Canadian, Australian, New Zealand and South African Armies would each send several divisions into the field, while the Indian Army stood ready at the beginning of the war to deploy nearly 200,000 men. British equipment was of mixed quality. The Army enjoyed a great advantage over its German namesake in that it was, from the start, able to provide all its divisions with sufficient motor transport to move their infantry from their own resources. British field artillery, equipped with the famous 25-pounder gun, was also good. But at the outset the medium artillery lacked proper weapons, while the anti-tank and tank units were notably deficient in modern equipment. In the I Tank (Matilda) the British began the war with a machine which the Germans could not knock out, but it was too small and undergunned to be useful as a weapon of support or exploitation. The cruiser tanks with which the British fought most of the Desert War were insufficiently protected and it was not really until they acquired the Sherman from the Americans that the Royal Armoured Corps had a weapon with which it could meet the Germans on equal terms. Its better home-produced tanks the Churchill and Cromwell were too few to make a difference. The British command system, unlike the German or French, devolved considerable responsibility on to the generals in the field. Churchill, with advice from the Chief of the Imperial General Staff - for most of the war the able Alan Brooke - decided the main lines of policy, but left the theatre and battlefield commanders to construct and execute their own battle plans. After American entry, British commanders became increasingly under the control of inter-Allied headquarters, of which the chiefs were usually American. The cordiality of relationships established between the headquarters of both armies was remarkable and a major contribution to the winning of the war.THE BRITISH ARMY 1939 PART 2In 1939 Britain had a small professional army. This was backed up by a poorly trained and ill-equipped Territorial Army. On the outbreak of the War PM Chamberlain, agreed to send a British Expeditionary Army to France. Under the command of General John Gort, the force included four infantry divisions and 50 light tanks. The British government introduced conscription and by May 1940, too late to make a real difference to the fighting in France. British Army strength was brought up to 50 divisions. Of these, 10 divisions were in France fighting against the German Western Offensive. After the evacuations from Dunkirk were complete, the British Army had 1,650,000 men. After the fall of France in June, 1940, the British Army was mainly used to protect the British Empire. This included sending troops to Egypt, Singapore and Burma. A small force was also sent to Greece in March 1941 but it was soon forced to retreat. British Army units also took part in the Allied invasions of Sicily, Italy and France. The main rifle used by the infantry was the Lee Enfield 303. A trained soldier using this rifle was able to put five shots into a four-inch circle at 200 yards. When fitted with telescopes a good sniper could hit his target at a distance of 1000 yards. In the early stages of the Second World War the British Army purchased the Tommy Gun from the United States. These were expensive and in 1940 they switched to the Sten Gun made by the Royal Small Arms Factory in Enfield. There were several models but the Mark 2 was the most popular. The gun had a massive bolt inside a tubular casing with the barrel fixed to the front and the magazine feeding from the left side where it could be supported on the firer's forearm. During the War the Royal Small Arms Factory supplied 4 million of these guns to the British Army. It was not popular with the soldiers because its habit of jamming when being used in battle. However, they were cheap to buy and the British government distributed them to resistance groups throughout occupied Europe. The gun could be easily and rapidly dismantled into its component parts for concealment, a distinct advantage for underground fighters. Britain's early heavy machine gun was the extremely reliable water-cooled Vickers 303. It was a recoil-operated machine gun, water cooled and belt fed. It weighed 40lb without its tripod and fired the standard .303 British cartridge at about 450rpm.The British Army only had 100 tanks left after Dunkirk and Vauxhall Motors were under instructions to produce the tanks as quickly as possible. As a result, the early Churchill tank suffered considerable mechanical problems. It performed badly at the Dieppe Raid but was more successful in North Africa. The armament was also inadequate and in March 1942 it was produced with a 6-pounder gun. The following year this was replaced with a 75mm gun.The first Valentine tanks were delivered in May 1940 and the following year they were sent to take part in the Desert War. During the war there were eleven versions of the tank. For example, the tank's armament changed from a 6-pounder in 1938 to 75mm in 1944. However, the size of the turret remained a problem and the crew constantly complained about a lack of room.By June 1945 the British Army had grown to 2,920,000 men. During the Second World War 144,079 British soldiers were killed, 239,575 were wounded and 152,079 were taken prisoner.SIZE AND SRUCTURE OF LAND FORCESYou will often hear that forces are divided in to regiments and brigades and divisions. This table gives you an idea of the numbers of troops in each of these units.Unit NameConsists of [1]:Approx Number of men:Commanded by:Army2 or more Corps100,000 to 150,000Field Marshal or GeneralCorps2 or more Divisions25,000 to 50,000General or Lt. Gen.Division3 or more Brigades or Regiments10,000 to 15,000Lt. Gen or Maj. Gen.Brigade3 or more Battalions1500 to 3500Maj. Gen, Brigadier or Col.Regiment[2]2 or more Battalions1000 to 2000Col.Battalion4 or more Companies400 to 1000Lt. pany2 or more Platoons100 to 250Captain or MajPlatoon (Troop)2 or more Squads16 to 501st Lt.Squad2 or more Sections8 to 24Sgt.Section?4 to 12Sgt.RAF SQUADRONS Battle of Britain RAF worked on the following basis:A full strength squadron would have 20 aircraft and two reserves, plus 16 operational pilots, and would be expected to fly 12 aircraft, either as four flights of three or three flights of four.If the strength fell below 9 they should have been relieved and posted to another Group, however some squadrons suffered exhaustion from persistent combat and heavy losses, and were far from efficient before being withdrawn.Some squadrons lasted 4 to 6 weeks, others had to be replaced after only a week to ten days. On 2.9.40 seven squadrons were reduced to less than half strength, and by 7.9.40 it was impossible to exchange squadrons quickly enough as their strength in operational pilots ran down.THE RAF IN 1939 In December, 1918, the RAF had more than 22,000 aircraft and 291,000 personnel, making it the world's largest airforce. Over the next twenty years the RAF was developed as a strategic bombing force. A fleet of light and medium monoplane bombers were developed during this period, notably the Vickers Wellington. The RAF also obtained two fast, heavily armed interceptor aircraft, the Hawker Hurricane and the Supermarine Spitfire, for defence against enemy bombers.The British government grew increasingly concerned about the growth of the Luftwaffe in Nazi Germany and in 1938 Vice Marshal Charles Portal, Director of Organization at the Air Ministry, was given the responsibility of establishing 30 new air bases in Britain. In September 1939 Bomber Command consisted of 55 squadrons (920 aircraft). However, only about 350 of these were suitable for long-range operations. Fighter Command had 39 squadrons (600 aircraft) but the RAF only had 96 reconnaissance aircraft.During the 1920s and early 1930s the bomber-fighter debate was largely contained within military and economic spheres. The British, for instance, invoked a "Ten Year Rule" for approving military expenditures, based on the probability of war in the next ten years. Events in Germany in 1933 changed the rules. In late 1937, the first Vickers Wellington appeared, boasting a speed of 230 mph and a phenomenal bomb load of 4500 lbs. Of geodetic construction and largely fabric-covered, the 'Wimpey' was a truly astounding aircraft, and would serve the RAF well for many years. She too carried defensive armament in the nose and tail turrets to fight of enemy fighters.Bomber development was amazingly rapid in all countries during the 1930s, Britain introduced the Blenheim and Battle (both light bombers), and the Hampden and Whitley (medium bombers). Even more extraordinary was the development of a new generation of fighter aircraft. The Hawker 'Hurricane' and Supermarine 'Spitfire' in Britain, were only some of the fighters developed during the late 30s. Even in their early versions, all but one of these were much faster than previous fighters, with maximum speeds ranging from 320-380 mph.PROBLEMSDespite some innovative initiatives, Britain did not have sufficient trained pilots. In Bomber Command, this extended to all other air crew: gunners; navigators; wireless operators. The Voluntary Reserve, begun in 1937, had helped address the lack of pilots, but not nearly quickly enough. And although the RAF had a fine training school both for ground and air crew, the number of bodies completing the training was below requirements. Exacerbating this, there were insufficient aircraft to train even the pilots and crew they had. Aircraft in existing squadrons were being cannibalized to keep other planes in readiness; to remove yet more for training purposes could prove disastrous.In 1939 there were no accurate, reliable navigation aids. In simple terms, how does a pilot bomb a target if he cannot find it? How does he find it at night? The third difficulty was related to the second. Even if reliable navigation devices had been available, pilots and navigators had simply not had enough experience flying through adverse weather to be successful in the range of conditions to be expected in northern Europe. Having been 'stood down' in inclement conditions during peacetime - a sensible precaution in terms of crew and aircraft safety, though not exactly forward-thinking when training for war - aircrew were totally unprepared for the seasonal hazards of fog, snow, ice and cold.Whatever the British would learn in 1939 about the limitations of their own air power, there is every indication that they were still convinced of the devastating power of a strategic enemy air force. Between Munich and the beginning of the war, thousands of Anderson Shelters were distributed and erected in back yards across the nation. Plans were put in place for the evacuation of 1,500,000 children and mothers from London and other likely targets. So many deaths were expected from bombing that the cost of wood for coffins alone was deemed prohibitive, and it was decided that mass graves and burning with quick lime would provide the only option to the nation. During the Second World War the RAF reached a total strength of 1,208,843 men and women. Of these, 185,595, were aircrew. The RAF also had the services of 130,000 pilots from the British Commonwealth and 30,000 aircrew from Britain's defeated European allies. During the war the RAF used 333 flying training schools. In all, between 1940 and 1945 the scheme trained out aircrew from Britain (88,022), Canada (137,739), Australia (27,387), South Africa (24,814), Southern Rhodesia (10,033) and New Zealand (5,609). This air campaign killed an estimated 600,000 civilians and destroyed or seriously damaged some six million homes. A total of 70,253 RAF personnel were lost on operations during the Second World War. Of these, 47,293 came from Bomber Command.THE RAF - A SUMMARY At this time 1939 Bomber Command consisted of 55 squadrons, which consisted of 920 aircraft. Fighter command had 39 squadrons with 600 aircraft. However, in 1918, the RAF had more than 22,000 aircraft; therefore it had been significantly reduced. Also, the RAF only had 96 reconnaissance aircraft (used for monitoring enemy activity). Moreover, the growth of the Luftwaffe in Nazi Germany meant that the enemy was gaining an advantage over Britain. Germany had been building up their air force since the early 1930s in breach of the Treaty of Versailles. They had even trained their pilots inside the Soviet Union. By 1939 their aircraft numbered 4210 but Britain’s was only approximately 900. This left Britain extremely vulnerable to air attack.Yet, Britain’s air force benefited from a number of technological advances. Light and medium monoplane bombers were developed, such as the Vickers Wellington. It appeared in 1937, had a speed of 230 miles per hour and a bomb load of 4500lbs. The Hawker Hurricane and the Supermarine Spitfire were heavily armoured interceptor aircraft, designed to intercept and destroy enemy aircraft. They had speeds ranging from 320 to 380 mph and were designed by R.J. Mitchel. The Battle of Britain would not have been won without them. In addition, in 1939 the Government announced a scheme for the production of seventeen and a half thousand aircraft. This was made possible by the restructuring of industry. Also, aircraft output rose from 161 in January 1938 to 712 in March 1939. However, bombers were being developed in all countries, plus there was a real fear of German bombers. This was evident in 1938 when the German air force bombed Guernica during the Spanish Civil War killing hundreds. Chamberlain stated, ‘the bomber will always get through’7, in reference to the German bombers. There was also underlying problems with the RAF personnel and training. Pilots were not suitably trained nor were gunners, navigators or wireless operators. Also, pilots were insufficiently trained to fly in bad weather and unknown climates. There was also scarce aircraft to train pilots and was introduced too late to make a real difference. ‘The Germans had a larger force of trained pilots on which to call, with an overall military figure of 10,000 in 1939, while Fighter command could only add 50 each week to its complement’8. In order to overcome some of the problems, the RAF was reorganised and Lord Swinton was put in charge of the Air Ministry. In addition, in 1938 Vice Marshal Charles Portal (Director of Organisation at the Air Ministry) established 30 new air bases in Britain. However, many of Britain’s efforts to prepare the RAF for war were too late.Britain had an advantage over Germany when it came to radar’s however as Britain had a chain of radar stations from John O’ Groats to Lands end. These gave early warning of incoming aircraft without wasting fuel or pilot time. This was one of the most important developments for Britain during the war.On the whole, the British air force was ill-prepared. The government did well in making plans for new aircraft but they were delayed too long. Apart from the Navy, both the army and the Royal Air Force were much smaller than Germany’s, putting Britain at a disadvantage. Germany had 2800 front line planes whereas Britain had fewer than 1000. The fact that Britain had a weak RAF also impaired the other two military services as it was vital to have a strong, capable air force, especially as Germany was so powerful. The Wellingtons, Spitfires and Hurricanes were essential in the war against Germany and certainly put Britain at an advantage but again, issues such and personnel and training greatly hindered the service. THE SPITFIRE THE HURRICANETHE ROYAL AIR FORCE – Bombers In 1936, whilst based at the Air Ministry, Arthur Harris (later to be known as ‘Bomber’ Harris) successfully argued that Bomber Command would need larger heavier bombers rather than the existing medium-size aircraft. He foresaw that to have real offensive power the RAF needed aeroplanes that could carry significant bomb loads over great distances.To cope with the larger aircraft, bigger airfields with longer runways were built and training programmes were organised to produce increasing numbers of skilled aircrews. Many potential aircrew travelled overseas during wartime to complete basic flying training in the USA, Canada and Southern Africa, or remained in their native countries to train (e.g. Australia and New Zealand) where plentiful fuel supplies, relatively good weather and lack of enemy aircraft meant pilots could quickly hone their flying skills before coming to Britain to finalise their training and then join an operational squadron.Difficulties of navigation at nightA key part of accurate bombing was accurate navigation. Forced to fly at night to avoid German fighters and flak, aircrews operating in the early part of the war found their way around Europe in darkness and frequent bad weather with little more than sextants, the navigator’s estimates of the aircraft’s position based on speed, direction and wind conditions and occasional radio directional bearings on the return journey.A lost bomber!On one occasion in May 1940 a disorientated crew flying in poor weather at night bombed what they took to be an enemy airfield in Holland. They later realised to their horror they had actually bombed an RAF fighter base in Cambridgeshire. Fortunately no-one on the ground was hurt and the bomber got home safely. In the typical humour of the time, two Spitfires from the fighter base flew over the errant bomber’s home airfield the next day and dropped mock German Iron Cross medals. However comic, this incident was representative of a very serious problem - unpredictable weather, fog, heavy cloud and lack of navigation equipment meant aircraft were missing their targets and often getting hopelessly lost trying to reach home, with tragic consequences. Bad weather and navigational errors caused many young men to be killed and many aircraft destroyed. Training exercises involving inexperienced crews flying older, poorly equipped training planes at night was another cause of frequent accidents. THE LANCASTER BOMBER THE WELLINGTON BOMBER THE ROYAL NAVY In 1939, the British Navy was the largest Navy in the world. Its strength was paramount to the defence of the Empire. The professional head was the First Sea Lord, Admiral of the fleet Sir Dudley Pound. There were almost 200,000 officers and men including Royal Marines and Reserves. There were 15 battleships and battle cruisers, 7 aircraft carriers, 66 cruisers (of which most were new), 184 destroyers (over half were new), 60 submarines and a number of support vessels. As Robert MacKay states, ‘The Royal Navy was in a reasonably healthy state in September 1939’9. However, the Navy had to defend the world’s oceans (excluding the help of the French Navy) and relied on the generosity of the Americans to protect the Pacific Ocean. D Dilks agrees and points out that Britain ‘had command of the ocean’10. The Empire proved very difficult to defend especially in the Far East. As Corelli Barnett states, ‘it was the greatest example of strategic overstretch the world had ever seen’.However, out of all the services, the Navy was the most prepared for war. Under construction were 5 ‘King George V’ class battleships (which helped to sink the German battleship the Bismarck in May 1941), 6 fleet carriers of which 5 were already under construction, 32 fleet destroyers, 20 escort types, 9 submarines and 9 patrol vessels. Furthermore, 23 new cruiser minelayers were laid down. On the other hand, only 2 of the 15 battleships were new and there was only one new aircraft carrier. Also many capital ships were old. In addition it was hard to tackle the threat of the U boats and ASDIC (the Royal Navy’s submarine), had limited range and was little use against surfaced U boats. Survival depended upon the Enigma, a coding machine, for the submarine war, which helped to break German codes. However the Stern-dropped and Mortar-fired depth charges were the only lethal anti-submarine weapon available. This was illustrated in the Battle of the Atlantic 1940-1942. Also the Royal Navy severely underestimated the threat of aircraft to their vessels. This was evident in 1941 off the coast of Singapore where Britain suffered its biggest naval disaster of the war and lost 2 battleships, The Prince of Wales and the Repulse. Torpedo bombers sank the two battleships it was the first time capital ships of any nation had been lost to air attack while in the open sea. ‘Their loss tilted the balance in the Battle for Malaya and just two months later Singapore surrendered to the Japanese Army’12. This highlighted the fact that few ships had anti aircraft defence on board. Another problem was that the German Navy could read the Navy’s operational and convoy codes and the Royal Navy did not compete when it came to landing large armies onto hostile shores. It was only in 1943 with the capture of Sicily that Britain, with the support of the USA, overcame this problem. However radars were fitted onto ships helping them detect enemy vessels quicker and Scapa Flow, a body of water in the Orkney Islands which holds the UK’s chief naval base, was considered impregnable. This was proven to be false as the British aircraft-carrier Courageous was sunk by a U-boat in the first major naval loss.The Royal Navy may have been the largest in the world but it was almost certainly not fully prepared for war. The submarine war was particularly deficient on the British side, as stated. Due to Britain’s outdated shipbuilding industry, many ships were old and not al lot of progress could be made. However, its strength was imperative to the Second World War, and again, radar proved to be one of Britain’s main dominances.THE ROYAL NAVY?September 1939"King George V" battleship HMS Anson in 1945. Laid down in 1937 and still the measure of naval power at the start of World War 2. (Courtesy Cyberheritage) By 1945, the battleship and its large gun had been superseded by the aircraft carrier and its aircraft The heart of the Royal Navy is its centuries old traditions and 200,000 officers and men including the Royal Marines and Reserves. At the very top as professional head is the First Sea Lord, Admiral of the Fleet Sir Dudley Pound. Royal Navy Warship StrengthThe Royal Navy, still the largest in the world in September 1939, includes:15 Battleships & battlecruisers, of which only two are post-World War 1. Five 'King George V' class battleships are building.7 Aircraft carriers. One is new and five of the planned six fleet carriers are under construction. There are no escort carriers.66 Cruisers, mainly post-World War 1 with some older ships converted for AA duties. Including cruiser-minelayers, 23 new ones have been laid down.184 Destroyers of all types. Over half are modern, with 15 of the old 'V' and 'W' classes modified as escorts. Under construction or on order are 32 fleet destroyers and 20 escort types of the 'Hunt' class.60 Submarines, mainly modern with nine building.45 escort and patrol vessels with nine building, and the first 56 'Flower' class corvettes on order to add to the converted 'V' and 'W's' and 'Hunts'. However, there are few fast, long-endurance convoy escorts.Dominion NaviesIncluded in the totals are the Dominion navies:Royal Australian Navy - six cruisers, five destroyers and two sloops;Royal Canadian Navy - six destroyers;Royal Indian Navy - six escort and patrol vessels;Royal New Zealand Navy, until October 1941 the New Zealand Division of the Royal Navy - two cruisers and two sloops.Strengths and WeaknessesThe Fleet is reasonably well-equipped to fight conventional surface actions with effective guns, torpedoes and fire control, but in a maritime war that will soon revolve around the battle with the U-boat, the exercise of air power, and eventually the ability to land large armies on hostile shores, the picture is far from good.ASDIC, the RN's answer to the submarine, has limited range and is of little use against surfaced U-boats, and the stern-dropped or mortar-fired depth charge is the only reasonably lethal anti-submarine weapon available. The Fleet Air Arm (FAA) recently returned to full control of the Navy, is equipped with obsolescent aircraft, and in the face of heavy air attack the Fleet has few, modern anti-aircraft guns. Co-operation with the RAF is limited although three Area Combined Headquarters have been established in Britain. Coastal Command, the RAF's maritime wing, has only short range aircraft, mainly for reconnaissance. And there is little combined operations capability.On the technical side, early air warning radars are fitted to a small number of ships. The introduction by the Germans of magnetic mines finds the Royal Navy only equipped to sweep moored contact mines. Finally, the German Navy's B-Service can read the Navy's operational and convoy codes.Primary Maritime TasksThese are based on the assumption Britain and France are actively allied against the European Axis powers of Germany and Italy. The Royal Navy will be responsible for the North Sea and most of the Atlantic, although the French will contribute some forces. In the Mediterranean, defence will be shared between both Navies, but as it happens, Benito Mussolini's claimed ownership of the Mediterranean - his 'Mare Nostrum' does not have to be disputed for another nine months.Belligerent Warship Strengths in European Waters & Atlantic OceanWarship type Royal NavyHome waters (a)& Atlantic (b)French Navy Atlantic and Channel German NavyEuropean waters+ Atlantic StationBattleships 9 2 3 + 2(c)Carriers 4 1 - Cruisers 353 7 Destroyers 9520 22 Submarines 25- 41(d) + 16 Totals 16826 73 + 18 ?plus escorts - plus torpedo boats Notes: - Royal Navy is a mix of World War 1, modernised and recently completed ships. The French warships allocated to the Atlantic and the German are mainly modern. (a) Home Fleet commanded by Adm Sir Charles Forbes with 7 capital ships, 2 carriers and 16 cruisers based at Scapa Flow and Rosyth; Channel Force with 2 battleships, 2 carriers and 3 cruisers; Humber Force with 2 cruisers; and various destroyer flotillas.(b) North Atlantic Command based at Gibraltar with 2 cruisers and 9 destroyers; America and West Indies Command at Bermuda with 4 cruisers; and South Atlantic at Freetown with 8 cruisers and 4 destroyers. (c) Pocket battleships "Admiral Graf Spee" in the South and "Deutschland" in the North Atlantic.Threats and Responses - September 1939OBJECTIVE 1 - Defence of trade routes, and convoy organisation and escort, especially to and from Britain. - Until May 1940 the main threat is from U-Boats operating in the North Sea and South Western Approaches. For a few months two pocket battleships pose a danger in the the Atlantic. - In the North Atlantic anti-submarine escorts are provided from Britain out to 200 miles west of Ireland (15W) and to the middle of the Bay of Biscay. For a few hundred miles from Halifax, cover is given by Canadian warships. The same degree of protection is given to ships sailing from other overseas assembly ports.- Cruisers and (shortly) armed merchant cruisers sometimes take over as ocean escorts. Particularly fast or slow ships from British, Canadian and other assembly ports sail independently, as do the many hundreds of vessels scattered across the rest of the oceans. Almost throughout the war it is the independently-routed ships and the convoy stragglers that suffer most from the mainly German warships, raiders, aircraft and above all submarines that seek to break the Allied supply lines. OBJECTIVE 2 - Detection and destruction of surface raiders and U-boats. - Patrols are carried out by RAF Coastal Command in the North Sea, and by Home Fleet submarines off southwest Norway and the German North Sea bases. RAF Bomber Command prepares to attack German warships in their bases. Fleet aircraft carriers are employed on anti-U-boat sweeps in the Western Approaches.OBJECTIVE 3 - Maritime blockade of Germany and contraband control. - As German merchant ships try to reach home or neutral ports, units of the Home Fleet sortie into the North Sea and waters between Scotland, Norway and Iceland. The Northern Patrol of old cruisers, followed later by armed merchant cruisers have the unenviable task of covering the area between the Shetlands and Iceland. In addition, British and French warships patrol the North and South Atlantic. Closer to Germany the first mines are laid by Royal Navy destroyers in the approaches to Germany's North Sea bases. OBJECTIVE 4 - Defence of own coasts. Right through until May 1940 U-boats operate around the coasts of Britain and in the North Sea. Scotland's Moray Firth is often a focus for their activities. They attack with both torpedoes and magnetic mines. Mines are also laid by surface ships and aircraft. British East Coast convoys (FN/FS) commence between the Thames Estuary and the Firth of Forth in Scotland. Southend-on-Sea, the Thames peacetime seaside resort, sees over 2,000 convoys arrive and depart in the course of the war Defensive mine laying begins with an anti-U-boat barrier in the English Channel across the Straits of Dover, followed by an East Coast barrier to protect coastal convoy routes.OBJECTIVE 5 - Escort troops to France and between Britain, the Dominions and other areas under Allied control. - An immediate start is made transporting the British Expeditionary Force (BEF) to France. By the end of 1939 the first Canadian troops have arrived in Britain, and by early 1940 Australian, Indian and New Zealand forces are on their way to Egypt and the Middle East. Troop convoys are always heavily escorted, and the Dominion Navies play an important part in protecting the men as they leave their home shores. Australian and New Zealand cruisers are particularly active in the Indian Ocean.Naval Strength before World War TwoRoyal Navy - An Incomplete Victory by John BarrettOn 21 November 1918, as Germany’s once-proud High Seas Fleet sailed into the British naval base of Scapa Flow to surrender, the Royal Navy seemed at the pinnacle of its long history. With 61 battleships to France’s 40 and the U.S.A.’s 39, the British fleet appeared incontestably to be the strongest in the world. But appearances were deceptive. Even at the peak of its strength, the Royal Navy had found it difficult to provide adequate protection to all of Britain’s world-wide possessions and interests, and Britain itself was increasingly dependent on seaborne imports, even for some essential foodstuffs and raw materials. But the huge financial costs of World War I had left Britain unable to maintain her existing levels of defence spending, with the result that defence planning was based on the assumption that no major war was likely to occur for ten years, a policy that was renewed annually into the 1930’s. Financial problems made Britain eager to sign the Naval Agreements of the Washington Conference of 1922, at which the Royal Navy’s position as the largest fleet in the world was quietly abandoned. Agreement was reached on a 5.5.3 ratio of warships among the three leading naval powers of? Britain, U.S.A. and Japan. Also agreed was a ten-year halt in building new capital ships, with the exception of some already under construction. One result was that only two new battleships were added to the Royal Navy in the inter-war years, “Nelson” and “Rodney”, completed in 1927, whose effectiveness was reduced by their compliance with the Treaty limitations, renewed in the London Naval Conference of 1930.? Financial restrictions also resulted in a decline in the standards of training so that the Royal Navy was in danger of slipping back into its complacency of the long Victorian peace after the Napoleonic Wars. The Road to WarIn 1933 the rise to power of Adolf Hitler in Germany was quickly seen as a potential threat to world peace, but although the “Ten Year Rule” was abandoned in 1934, it was expected to be 1943 before the Royal Navy would be equipped and ready for full-scale war. A massive building programme of twenty capital ships including 15 aircraft carriers was planned, but was never a realistic possibility, with British industry unable to cope with such demands. Even the five battleships of the “King George V” class which were laid down had only 14” guns, compared with vessels of 15” –18” being constructed abroad, though their armoured protection, (up to 15” on the sides and 6” on the decks) would help make them unexpectedly successful in combat. The British carrier program was equally disappointing. Instead of a planned total of 7 first class carriers available by 1939, the Royal Navy would actually have only 4 modern vessels and 3 which were obsolescent. And in this field the Navy lagged behind developments in the U.S.A. and Japan, particularly in aircraft and training.With increasingly aggressive tactics by Japan in the East, and? the menace of Fascist Italy and Nazi Germany in Europe, Britain was now facing the prospect of? a war on three fronts, in the Atlantic, Mediterranean and Pacific, and having to defend a far-flung Empire with only tiny naval forces of its own.. To meet this threat in the short term, the Navy could only modernize its World War I–vintage capital ships, and work on some, including the battlecruisers “Hood” and “Repulse”, would not be completed before the outbreak of war.Other vessels were equally unsatisfactory. The Treaty tonnage limitations had meant that, apart from some older heavy cruisers, most modern vessels of this class carried only 6” guns. Similar problems plagued the destroyer force. The latest “Tribal” class, begun in 1937, carried only 4.7” guns compared with the “5.9” weapons of their German counterparts.Potentially disastrous was the neglect of the threat from submarines, particularly to merchant shipping. It was assumed that detection equipment such as ASDIC had neutralised the U-boat in any future war. It was felt in the review of 1934 that no more than 100 escorts in all would be needed, so few new ones had been built by an essentially conservative naval leadership, which had also largely ignored the potential role of aircraft in anti-submarine warfare.The outbreak of war in 1939 left the Royal Navy already dangerously overstretched even faced only with Germany.? Though Britain might appear supreme, with 12 battleships and battlecruisers, 5 carriers and 53 cruisers, appearances were deceptive. Six battleships remained unmodernised; only the “Hood” and “Renown” were fast enough to catch the latest German ships, and the only modern carrier, “Ark Royal” still carried obsolete aircraft. The outlook, especially if the war spread, was potentially dire.GERMANY AND THE KRIEGSMARINETHE REBIRTH OF A NAVYThe Treaty of Versailles in 1919 left the once proud German Navy a mere shadow of its former glory. Reduced basically to a Baltic defence force, with six old pre-Dreadnoughts and a small force of lighter vessels, and forbidden U-boats, Germany never again seemed likely to challenge for control of the seas.But efforts to circumvent the harshest clauses of the peace settlement, and at least prepare for the possibility of a revived Navy began almost at once. German–controlled U-boat building facilities were set up in Holland, and submarines secretly constructed for Spain, Turkey and Finland, so keeping existing skills alive and helping in design improvements.? The Versailles Treaty allowed for the replacement (with a 10,000 ton limit) of existing vessels when they were more than twenty years old, and during the 1920’s several new light cruisers and torpedo boats were added.Even before the Nazi regime came to power, more ambitious plans were under development, including the construction of three panzerschiffes, “armoured vessels” of 10,000 tons, each carrying six 11” guns, and designed primarily as commerce raiders, able to outfight or outrun any likely opponents. Known to the Allies as “pocket battleships” they would prove their worth on the outbreak of war.? Secret work had also begun on the Type 1 coastal U-boats of 250 tons.In 1935, Hitler and the British Government signed the fateful Anglo-German Naval Agreement, which allowed Germany, if her Government deemed it necessary, to build up to parity with the Royal Navy. It also allowed her submarines, and the secret U-boat flotilla was immediately unveiled.The new opportunities for expansion caused some dissension in the German Naval Command. The newly designated head of the U-boat service, Karl Donitz, favoured a massive expansion of the Submarine force, with emphasis on the 500-ton Type VII, to give a greater number of vessels within the Treaty limitations, rather than the larger 800-ton Type IX favoured by the High Command under Grand Admiral Erich Raeder.Raeder himself,? whilst not neglecting the possible role of the U-boat, was a “big ship” man. In this field, first fruits of the 1935 treaty were the the fast battleships “Scharnhorst” and “Gniesenau”. Classed by the British as battlecruisers, these 32,000 ton vessels, mounting nine 11” guns, and with a top speed of 31 knots, were a force to be reckoned with. Also laid down were several heavy cruisers and the great 35,000 ton eight 15” gunned battleships “Bismarck” and Tirpitz” These were only intended as the first steps in the creation of a formidable new Kriegsmarine. In 1938 Hitler and Raeder drew up the massive expansion program known as the “Z Plan”. This envisaged no war with Britain before 1945. By that date Raeder hoped to have a fleet including six 50,000 ton battleships, twelve 20,000 ton battle-cruisers, four carriers, a large number of light cruisers and destroyers and 250 U-boats. Donitz with typical realism felt this program to be completely unviable, making impossible demands on German manufacturing capacity, and with the problem result of a new naval arms race with Britain and France.The premature outbreak of war in 1939 quickly led to the abandonment of the Z-Plan. Of the capital ships, work would only continue on the two battleships of the “Bismarck” class. Raeder felt that his largely modern, but greatly outnumbered surface fleet could only hope to “die with honour”.? Much would rest on the U-boat arm, which began the war with only 57 operational vessels instead of the 300 hoped for by Donitz. Production priority was switched to them, but it remained to be seen whether enough could be built in time.Main Wartime DevelopmentsAs the war progresses, the Royal and Dominion Navies expand rapidly with large construction programmes, particularly escort carriers, destroyers, corvettes, frigates, submarines, landing ships and craft.By mid-1944, 800,000 officers and men and 73,000 WRNS are in uniform.Vastly improved radars and anti-submarine weapons have been introduced, and the tactics to use them effectively, honed to a fine pitch.Ship-borne and land-based aircraft become vital in the life and death struggle against the U-boat, the only concern Prime Minister Winston Churchill retained throughout six years of war.Huge combined operations landings take place with air superiority usually assured.Although not defeated, magnetic, then acoustic and finally pressure mines are kept under control.Perhaps of greatest single significance, the 'Ultra' operation against the German Enigma codes allows the Allies to penetrate to the very heart of German and Axis planning and operations.In short, in a war that starts with Polish cavalry and ends with the Anglo-US atomic bomb, the Royal and Dominion Navies face new and continuing threats and learn to deal with them technically, operationally and above all, successfully.But the price paid is high:British Naval Casualtiesnot including RAF and Army personnel killed in related circumstances - Coastal Command, Defensively-Equipped Merchant Ships (DEMS) etcRoyal Navy - 50,758 killed, 820 missing, 14,663 woundedWomen's Royal Naval Service - 102 killed, 22 woundedMerchant Navy - 30,248 lost through enemy actionand in ships:Royal Navy Losses - Total Losses - by Year - by Theatre - by EnemyTOTAL STRENGTH AND LOSSESROYAL NAVYWarship typesStrength as of Sept 1939Commissioned to Aug 1945TOTAL IN SERVICE TOTAL LOSSESCapital ships 15 5 20 5Carriers 7 5865 10Cruisers 66 35 101 34Destroyers 184 277 461 153Submarines 60 178 238 76TOTALS 332553885278 LOSSES BY YEAR - including not repairedROYAL NAVYWarship types 1939 1940 1941 1942 1943 1944 1945 Totals Capital ships 1 -4 ---- 5 Carriers 1 1 2 3 1 1 1 10 Cruisers -3-11(1 RAN)13(2 RAN)4-3--34(3 RAN)Destroyers 3--37-(2 RCN)22(1 RAN)-51(3 RAN)(2 RCN)18-(1 RCN)20-(2 RCN)2--153(4 RAN)(7 RCN)Submarines 1 24 11 19 13 5 3 76 TOTALS 665508636296278LOSSES BY THEATRE ROYAL NAVYWarship types AtlanticEurope MediterraneanIndian & Pacific OceansCapital ships 1 1 1 2 Carriers 4 3 2 1 Cruisers 4 4 20 6 (3 RAN)Destroyers 23 (5 RCN)53 (2 RCN)67 (2 RAN)10 (2 RAN)Submarines 3 23 45 5 TOTALS 358413524ROYAL NAVYWarship typesGerman ItalianJapaneseFrench Other (a)UnknownTotal Capital ships 3 - 2 - -- 5 Carriers 8 - 1 - 1 - 10 Cruisers 20 6 5 - 3 - 34 Destroyers 114 15 8 1 (b)15 - 153 Submarines (c) 24 37 4 - 6 5 76 TOTALS 16958201255278?Analysis of Axis Navy Losses - German Navy - Italian Navy - Japanese NavyGERMAN NAVY - ALL MAJOR WARSHIPS - Totals and (Due to Royal Navy)GERMAN NAVY 1939 1940 1941 1942 1943 1944 1945 Total Capital ships 1 (RN)-1 (RN)-1 (RN)1 3 (a)7 (3 RN)Cruisers -3 (2 RN)----3 (a)6 (2 RN)Raiders --3 (RN)3 (1 RN)1--7 (4 RN)Destroyers (b) -12 (RN)-4 (3 RN)2 (1 RN)7 (2 RN)2 27 (18 RN)Submarines 9 (RN)22 (17 RN)35 (28 RN)86 (34 RN)237 (61 RN)242 (85 RN)149 (41 RN)780 (275 RN)TOTALS 10 (RN)37 (31 RN)39 (32 RN)93 (38 RN)241 (63 RN)250 (87 RN)157 (41 RN)827 (302 RN)ITALIAN NAVY - to 8th September 1943 - Totals and (Due to Royal Navy)Warship types1939 1940 1941 1942 1943 Total Battleships N/A ? 1 (RN)---1 (RN)Cruisers N/A ? 1 (RN)6 (RN)3 (2 RN)2 12 (9 RN)Destroyers(a) N/A8 (RN)14 (10 RN)8 (4 RN)13 (6 RN)43 (28 RN)Submarines N/A ? 20 (12 RN)18 (14 RN)22 (17 RN)25 (13 RN)85 (56 RN)TOTALS N/A30 (22 RN)38 (30 RN)33 (23 RN)40 (19 RN)141 (94 RN)JAPANESE NAVY Totals and (Due to Royal Navy)Warship types1939 1940 1941 1942 1943 1944 1945 Total Battleships n/an/a-2 1 4 4 11 Carriers n/an/a-6 1 12 2 21 Cruisers n/an/a-6 2 24 (1 RN)9 (3 RN)41 (4 RN)Destroyers n/an/a4 18 34 61 18 135 Submarines n/an/a3 16 (2.5 RN)28 (2.5 RN)53 (3 RN)27 127 (8 RN)TOTALS n/a n/a ? 7 48 (2.5 RN)66 (2.5 RN)154 (4 RN)60 (3 RN)335 (12 RN)NOTES: Of 12 Submarines sunk RN: Royal Navy - 4, Australian - 2, Indian - 0.5, New Zealand - 1.5?? CIVILIAN PRECAUTIONSIn considering the preparedness for war it is also necessary to consider civilian precautions, which began in 1938. It was estimated that in the first 6 months of the war, German bombers would kill one and a half million people. One civilian precaution was the provision of communal sheltering. These were built throughout the country in the first 3 months running up to the Munich Agreement. Some people found their own solutions though, by sheltering in the London Underground which caused over crowding and there was a high risk of mass casualties. Stuart Hylton says that, ‘about 60 percent of the population stayed in their beds during raids and took their chances’, referring to the lack of use of sheltering. However, a London Home Intelligence Report stated, ‘Sheltering has become the next best thing to evacuation for a great many Londoners’, showing that the provision of sheltering was partially effective.The Anderson Shelter was one of the first shelters to be given to the British public by the government. It was named after Sir John Anderson who was in charge of civil defence and it cost ?5 for those with an annual income of over ?250. In some cases they were free of charge – over 1 and a half million free Anderson shelters were issued. By 1940 it protected a quarter of the population. It was made from corrugated iron and could be built in the back garden. It could withstand most explosions but it could not withstand a direct hit and was uncomfortable. Paul Addison mentions that Anderson Shelters, ‘undoubtedly saved many lives’.Another shelter was the Morrison Shelter. This was designed to go inside the house and could be used as a table during the day. It was good if quick cover was needed. Conversely, it could withstand only smaller explosions and could not withstand a direct hit. It was proved to be the most successful of the war.In 1938 over 38 million gas masks were distributed following the Munich Agreement. Also, by the beginning of 1937 gas masks were being produced at a rate of 150,000 a week. This was because there was widespread terror of a gas attack to spread panic. However, these were uncomfortable and there were none provided for babies. Paul Addison says that when gas masks were first distributed, they became a ‘minority habit’ but as time went on ‘almost no-one bothered’. In fact for many young men Stuart Hylton points out that ‘they became a source of ridicule’.EVACUATIONAnother civilian precaution was evacuation. Robert MacKay says, ‘the daunting task of working out a scheme for the sudden mass movement of perhaps five million people was purposefully addressed’. Many pregnant women, children, and teachers were evacuated from inner cities to the countryside for protection. Almost 3 and a half million children were evacuated at the start of war. However, there were some flaws. For example, during the ‘phoney war’ almost 700,000 evacuees returned home. There was a lack of organisation: in some cases the diet for 4 days consisted of milk, apples and cheese and some had to sleep on straw covered by grain bags. Other problems included hostility towards the evacuees; one Home Intelligence Report stated that the friction between hosts and evacuees was caused by the, ‘untidy and dirty habits of evacuees’. Many evacuees lacked proper toilet training (between 5 and 10%) and about half were verminous with lice and scabies. Five percent could not use cutlery, some children had only one set of clothes, and malnutrition was common. Michael Lynch argues that, ‘Evacuation let the British people see how the other half lived. It revealed to the middle classes the sheer depravity of their poorer counterparts. It pricked the nation’s conscience’. Chamberlain stated, ‘little did I know that such conditions existed in this country’ revealing the ignorance of the people of Britain to the poverty that existed’. Furthermore, sometimes it took a long time for people to be evacuated. J. Stephens describes evacuation as a ‘knee-jerk reaction’. Another issue was that the billeting officers for evacuation were volunteers. Angus Calder points out that the volunteers ‘varied in status, competence, integrity and compassion’.One weakness of civil defence during World War Two was that the wealthier had an increased chance of survival than poorer groups. Tiratsoo argues that, ‘Different classes experience different wars’, and, that ‘The upper classes got gourmet dinners and underground basements in top class hotels’. Those who could afford it were able to evacuate overseas, which is another example of the inequalities that existed between the rich and poor. Stuart Hylton poses another example of how the government failed as he states, ‘After the first month of bombing, there was considerable anger at the failure of the authorities to provide sufficient deep shelters, and the shortcomings of other air raid precautions’.? ?ANTI AIRCRAFT DEFENCEAnti-aircraft defence was also an issue. Anti-aircraft defence was poor quality at the start of war. Firstly, there was a meagre supply of guns. The national stock stood at 100 guns in 1938 yet the estimated minimum for London alone was 216. In addition, they were very inaccurate. As Stuart Hylton states, ‘The nation’s anti-aircraft defences were not in good shape at the outbreak of war. In a practice exercise they scored just two hits out of 2935 shots fired’. Clearly these inadequacies speak for themselves. To provide extra support, Anthony Eden, the Secretary of State for War introduced a voluntary scheme of local defence volunteers, or the ‘home guard’. These were members of the public who would be armed to fight off Germans. It was part-time and unpaid work. Unfortunately, many volunteers were very young or very old. Also, many were unfit. Fitzgibbon states, ‘Out of a thousand recruits sent to the 31st Anti-Aircraft Brigade, fifty had to be discharged immediately, twenty more were mentally deficient, and a further 18 were below medical category B2’. When it comes to civilian precautions, Britain was mostly ready. Sheltering and evacuation suitably protected people in vulnerable areas against air raids and gas masks were widely available. On the other hand, evacuation raised serious social issues, especially poverty in Britain and the inequalities that existed. Furthermore, the Home Guard and anti-aircraft defence were not properly prepared but overall, Britain’s civilian precautions were fairly preparedTHE HOME GUARDThe Home Guard was formed as a backup to the army, to defend the towns and villages of the United Kingdom should the Germans invade, but they were armed initially with only what could be scrounged up and private weapons. They eventually were properly armed and usually consisted of men in reserved occupations, those unable to fight due to a medical condition, or those who were too old to fight.The Civil Defence forces outside London were disbanded in September 1944, although the stand-down order did not come until May 1945 and was not completed until 31st December 1944. The London Civil Defence Force was stood down on 2nd December 1944.The Home Guard was the army that never fought. Hastily organized in May 1940 as the Local Defence Volunteers, it was armed with a mixture of outdated rifles, old fowling pieces, shotguns and improvised weapons and by the end of June the Home Guard numbered some 1.5-million ill-equipped but enthusiastic men. Shortly a consignment of half a million US-made P17 Enfield and Canadian Ross rifles arrived from the USA. By November 1941, the Government introduced military ranks and discipline into the Home Guard, as it numbered 1.5 to 2 million men. It still consisted of volunteer, unpaid and part-time soldiers, formed into units to defend local communities, airfields and vital infrastructure and traffic routes. Later in the war, the Home Guard helped to man AA sites and coastal artillery, as well as defend them, releasing regular troops for other duties.?Strength of the Home Guard and Royal Observer Corps (Thousands)?Home GuardRoyal Observer Corps?Full-TimePart-TimeMenWomenTotalMenWomenMenWomen1940June1,456?27.92.3?25.6?1941June1,603?33.24?29.3?December1,530?34.84.4?300.41942June 1,565?345.10.228.00.8December1,741?32.45.50.425.60.91943March1,793?32.85.70.725.211June1,784432.95.9124.812September1,7691632.96.21.424.11.3December1,75422336.42.123.21.31944March1,7392832.86.52.522.41.4June1,7273132.76.42.622.11.5September1,6983232.56.42.821.91.5December1,685?3226.42.921.41.41945March??32.16.5321214June??8.75.72.10.9Civil Defence ServicesIn World War One, about 1,400 civilians had died in just over 100 air raids on Britain by German Zeppelins and later, Gotha bombers. The interwar years saw the Committee for Imperial Defence set up a subcommittee whose function was to look at the organization for a war of civil defence, home defence, censorship and war emergency legislation. This group was called the Air Raid Precautions subcommittee. It met for the first time in May 1924. The subcommittee continued its work for the next nine year in secrecy. In March 1933, local authorities were chosen as the agencies to be responsible for local organization. A circular was sent around the local authorities and a new department of the Home Office, the ARP department, was formed in 1935 under the control of Wing Commander E. J. Hodsall.When, in March 1935, Germany announced that she had re-established her air force, the ARP department immediately went to work and began to issue instructions to the local authorities, merchant shipping and fire precautions.In January 1937, the first official ARP broadcast was made and an appeal was made for volunteers. Local progress in the setting up of these services varied widely; in some areas large-scale exercises took place and in others ARP services had yet to be formed.For the first years of their existence, the ARP personnel had only a helmet and a silver ARP badge to denote their role and which service they belonged to. Often the helmets carried some denotation of rank, as did armbands where provided. An ARP inspector spent some time in Spain during the civil war, studying the effects of bombing by German and Italian aircraft and evaluating the defences employed.On 1st January 1938, the ARP act came into force, compelling all local authorities to set up ARP schemes. It required wardens, first aid, emergency ambulance, gas decontamination, rescue, repair and demolition services as well as first aid posts, gas cleansing stations and casualty clearing stations. The Auxiliary Fire Service was also set up. The Act also provided for funding, 65-70% of the bill would be footed by central government grants, if the local authority submitted plans, which were approved.In March 1938, war seemed inevitable, as Germany demanded the return of the Sudetenland. ARP services were put on standby and trenches were dug in public parks.The ARP workers would, in the main, be part-time volunteers and were expected to work up to 48 hours a month. In February 1939, full time ARP personnel were paid ?3 a week for men, and ?2 a week for women. Skilled rescue workers earned more and part-time pay was introduced later in the year. When Germany invaded Poland on 1st September 1939, war was impossible to stop. Blackout restrictions came into force and the Auxiliary Fire Service was mobilized and local APR schemes were brought into operation.As the war continued, each new ARP development was followed by new weapons deployed by the Axis powers. The early air raid warning system sounded an alert in one of a hundred areas warning of approaching enemy aircraft in five minutes. This meant that factories and areas not immediately threatened or buzzed by nuisance aircraft all shut down factories as the workers headed to the shelters. Nuisance raiders caused the ARP to develop an Industrial Warning System, where spotters were stationed on the roofs of factories and sounded the alert when enemy aircraft were seen approaching. This cut down enormously on the time spent in shelters by factory workers.In 1940 some local authorities began to issue a sort of uniform for their Civil Defence services and in February 1941, a heavy battledress uniform was issued, first to rescue services and later to the other services. During 1941, the phrase ARP was phased out in favour of Civil Defence. The Civil Defence services began to be wound up in September 1944 and some blackouts began to be lifted. At the end of April 1945, the Civil Defence wound up on 2nd May 1945, holding a final parade on 10th June 1945, reviewed by King George VI.?Air Raid WardensARP wardens were first introduced in January 17, their duty being to establish and advise on air raid precautions in their sector. They would be at posts and report the particulars of air raid damage, assist the inhabitants and warn of unexploded devices and seal off effected areas. The ARP Warden Service was formed in March 1937. The wardens would perform many jobs and provide immediate help with bomb damage until the rescue services could arrive. They had to have a detailed knowledge of the local area, where any dangerous chemicals, petrol or oil were located, where useful rescue materials might be located and the positions of useful reporting points as well as the location of the local rest centres, first aid posts and hospitals.The first posts were in the warden's own front room or a shop, but later these were purpose built locations, with power, telephone and a shelter for the warden. They were also issued with gas masks, anti-gas suits and other rescue equipment. The early scheme had one warden per 500 people, but later it was replaced by a scheme of not more than 10 warden posts per square mile, so a warden should not have to move more than half a mile to a damaged area. The sectors were each served by five wardens under a senior or Sector Warden, while several sectors were covered by a warden's post under the control of a Post Warden. The post areas were grouped under a Head Warden, sometimes known as an Area Warden, who would be in charge of an area containing six to eight thousand people. Large towns of more than 150,000 population would be divided into divisions of eight to ten Head Wardens, and all the Head, Post or Area Wardens had a deputy. Wardens were trained in everything they might need. Rescue work, organization, elementary first aid and bomb protection as well as ARP procedures. They also had to oversee the public shelters but these were taken over by a Shelter Marshal, later renamed Shelter Wardens and under the control of the Warden Service.FireFire was not considered a high danger before the war. Only fire resulting from bomb damage being a major problem and the Auxiliary Fire Service was formed to combat this. Mass incendiary raids were not expected. German heavy bombers could carry a thousand one kilo Electron incendiary bombs, and a single German bomber with a full load could start up to 150 fires over a three-mile area according to the Home Office.A single electron could be easily dealt with by sand, water or covering the small fire, but if left alone could develop into a major fire. As well as the civilian Fire Service, the Auxiliary Fire Service was formed in January 1938; the Fire Brigade Act of July 1938 gave local authorities 2 years to bring their brigades up to strength. Before the war broke out, recruitment was far below its target of 200,000 but when war broke out recruits flooded in. Auxiliary fire stations sprang up everywhere, dispersed all over cities and rural areas. Early in the war the fire engines patrolled at intervals to spot fires but the wardens and fire guards proved more effective and such patrols became unnecessary. As well as the AFS, there was the Women's Auxiliary Fire Service, whose presence released men from control centre and messenger duties.War had seen the peacetime bright-red fire engine disappear to be replaced by wartime grey and tin helmets were issued to the firemen. As well as trailers and vehicles, many fire brigades had fire floats and boats, with many battling for hours on end along the Thames River to contain the fires on the docksides and streets of riverside London. The National Fire Service reached its peak at the end of 1942, numbering 350,000 in 39 fire forces, each of 4 divisions, with two columns (100 pumps) per division and a reserve of 20 pumps. A company had ten pumps and a section five. The NFS was controlled by the Home Office but each CD region had its own Fire Officer, who liased between the CD Regional Commissioner and the Fire Force commanders within the region. There were also mobile control units at large incidents.The Fire Watcher Service was formed in September 1940 in the Fire Watchers Order, which was to spot and report the fall of incendiaries and their ensuing fires. But all their efforts could not prevent the devastation of December 1940, and in August 1941 the watchers were reorganized into the Fire Guard. These would spot incendiary fires, battle them to the best of their ability and send for reinforcements from the NFS if required.GasThe fear of the use of poison gas by German aircraft was one of the paramount concerns of the Second World War. Although Britain, France and Germany had all renewed the Geneva Gas Protocol (1925), in September 1939 there were still concerns that the enemy might have employed gas against military or civilian personnel, and ARP personnel were trained to handle gas attacks and implement anti-gas measures and protection.Several arms of the ARP services were directly concerned with gas. The Decontamination Service was the first, to decontaminate roads, buildings and materials contaminated by liquid or jelly gases, which would evaporate over time and these would have been dealt with by using a neutralizing agent against the liquid or jelly. Decontamination of people was carried out as part of first aid, while later decontamination personnel were trained in rescue work as well. Depots were set up as six depots per 100,000 people, with two decontamination squadrons per depot, each squadron consisting of six men with their equipment.The Cleansing Service was to clean people who had been exposed, through showers by mobile units with special vans and lorries. Clothing had to be boiled, if exposed, for varying lengths of time dependant on the material. Civilian clothing was the responsibility of the Ministry of Health.Burning, smoke or other hazardous materials: Each gas presented its own problems and required special counters, and the Gas Identification Service, with 3 personnel per 100,000 population provided where possible, was to identify the gas used in an attack. Medical ServicesThe expected nature of air raids in the Second World War, led to the First World War trench-warfare style of triage being adopted for home use. First Aid parties would attend the scene of the destruction, where they would deal with minor injuries on the spot, prioritizing more serious injuries and sending them back to First Aid Posts, each with a doctor and trained nurses to treat the more serious injuries. The most serious cases would be sent to a casualty clearing hospital. Along with the emergency ambulance service these made up the ARP Casualty Service. After 1938, the casualty services came under the control of the Ministry of Health.Each Warden's sector had an assigned doctor, who could be summoned to an incident if there were casualties. These were called ARP Medical Officer or Incident Doctors. The Medical Services also controlled the Emergency Mortuaries to deal with the vast number of bodies expected as a result of air raids, a series of these being set up in each area in commandeered premises. The stretcher-bearers worked exclusively from hospitals and were made up of volunteers.PoliceIn 1938, the duties of the police were envisaged as increasing so enormously when war broke out, that the numbers of police had to be trebled. The First Police Reserve of Police Pensioners, the Second Reserve of Special Constables, (part-time and unpaid) and the Third Reserve, which was a war reserve that was full time and signed up for war service only, were all needed to fill the Police Services manpower requirements. At first all police were regarded as a reserved occupation, but later increasing demands on personnel saw police were released up to the age of 30 and war reservists up to 33, leaving more work for the Special Constables.Another source of personnel was the Women's Auxiliary Police Corps, where WAPCS worked in administrative areas and as drivers. Their numbers were small, not reaching 10,000 at their height, some forces employing no women at all.The build-up to war had seen police stations bomb-proofed, while reserve stations were set up and suitable buildings were converted and equipped to be used if the main station was bombed. The police had the power to deal with blackout violations, but not the wardens, who referred them. The police also had to deal with incendiaries, gas, unexploded bombs, crashed aircraft, national registration, loose barrage balloons, enemy aliens and drunken servicemen. Rescue ServicesThe Rescue Services was, in its first incarnation, to rescue survivors and repair or demolish damaged structures. Much of the training was based on earthquake rescue work. All members of rescue parties were taught to cut off supplies of gas, water and electricity to damaged buildings. Many members of the rescue service were trained in resuscitation, as gas masks were useless against domestic (coal) gas.To enable rescue workers to avoid domestic gas, the remote breathing apparatus was developed. This was basically a service gas mask with a long hose connected to it, through which fresh air could be breathed. They were also trained in putting out small fires and tackling incendiaries. At first the standard rescue party was ten men in two classes; major incidents and smaller incidents as Class A and Class B respectively with each having different equipment.The light teams numbered four or five to every heavy team per 100,000 populations but in cities, heavy parties were in every area. The Borough Engineer or Surveyor acted as Head of the Rescue Service in most cases, overseeing the organization and administration of the service. In January 1943, a year after London, the stretcher parties were reformed into light rescue parties and women members were transferred to other Civil Defence services. Rescues could last for days, continuing throughout bombing and air raid alerts. Rescue workers were the first Civil Defence unit to be issued with uniforms, the first issue being blue overalls. Helmets were worn when working, but flat caps or trilby hats were worn at other times. Women's Voluntary ServiceIn June 1938 the Women's Voluntary Services for ARP, was formed to provide extra bodies for ARP work. These women took on all roles and in February 1939 the name was changed to Women's Voluntary Services for Civil Defence. They worked in every imaginable job; salvage, medical support, staffing public kitchens, shelters, food drives and also included a Housewife’s Section. Those who were committed with children or other work and were too busy to give regular time to the WVS or Civil Defence work, worked for the WVS when they had spare time. The Housewife’s Section was formed in 1938, and early in 1942 had evolved into the National Housewife’s Section of the WVS. It was common practice for Housewife’s Section members to be trained as Fire Guards, as well as having first aid and anti-gas training.?Civilian and Civil Defence casualties, due to enemy action as reported to 31st July 1945?Total CivilianCivilian Defence Workers on duty?TotalMenWomenChildren Under 16UnidentifiedTotalMenWomenKilled and Missing, believed killed60,59526,92325,3997,7365372,3792,148231Injured and detained in hospital86,18240,73837,8227,622-4,4594,072387TOTAL146,77767,66163,22115,3585386,8386,220618?Who do you think you are kidding Mr Hitler?The Story of the Home Guard.Most of us have, at some time or other, enjoyed the BBC television series "Dad's Army", with its somewhat light hearted look at the Second World War's Home Guard.? With its memorable signature tune " Who do you think you are kidding Mr Hitler?” it's usually among the first imagery evoked when thinking of the Home Guard.?? However, despite this portrayal, in its time the Home Guard represented a formidable force of willing volunteers ready to give up their lives in protection of their country.? Indeed, should Hitler's Germany succeed with its invasion plans, the Home Guard would be ready and waiting.So how did it all begin and how did the Home Guard hope to protect Britain from a seemingly unstoppable Germany?Churchill - the bulldog "holding the line"INVASION FEARS AND THE LDVIt was with considerable haste during the spring of 1940, that Britain began to prepare itself for a potential German invasion.? With the government all too aware of how real this threat was becoming and how it was affecting Britain's morale, it began to think up ways of how the country could be helped should the unthinkable ever happen.? As a direct result of one of the darkest days of World War Two (on the 14th May 1940), where Germany had poured into France practically unchallenged, the war minister Anthony Eden gave a now historic radio broadcast to the nation.? In it, he warned of the threat of invasion by means of German parachute regiments and how this awful scenario would need an established fighting force already in place to see off these unwanted visitors.?He urged all male civilians aged 17-65* who had (for whatever reason) not been drafted into the services, to put themselves forward for the sake of their country and help to form a new fighting force called ‘The Local Defence Volunteers’ or LDV for short, or (as some people later joked), ‘Look, Duck and Vanish’!?? It’s worth noting that this age band was not always strictly adhered to.? The oldest member of the Home Guard (as the LDV was to later become known) was apparently well into his eighties!? Eden had made clear in his broadcast that the passing of a medical examination wouldn't be necessary and that providing you were male, ‘capable of free movement’ and of the right age, all one needed to do was enrol at their local police station.?It's true to say that if Eden was ever in any doubt about the impetus his broadcast had had on the general public, his fears were soon to be allayed.? For by the end of the following day some 250,000 men had volunteered, with these volunteers coming from all walks of life including mining, factory working, public transport and farming to note but a few.? Then even more staggering, by the end of the month a total of 750,000 men had come forward.? Some problems did exist initially with many police stations soon running out of the enrolment forms.? However, despite this small inconvenience it was good to see that Britain shared in the governments view that it had best guard itself in some manner and 'better be safe than sorry'!LDV UNIFORM AND ARMSThe early LDV uniforms were scarce, but those available consisted quite simply of a denim battledress and armband proudly displaying the LDV initials.? Willing volunteers of the Women’s Voluntary Service (WVS) were among those who made these LDV armbands.?A CHANGE OF NAME In a moment of inspiration, Winston Churchill renamed the LDV, the Home Guard, although later it became affectionately known quite simply as ‘Dad’s Army’.? Considering the LDV had only been in operation for a month and a half at the time of this announcement, it came as a surprise to most.? However, despite this, the role of the Home Guard principally remained the same.?Because the newly named Home Guard still lacked sufficient numbers of weapons, its high-spirited members often had to improvise.? While on patrol they would take with them items such as pikes, truncheons, pick axes, broom handles and even golf clubs!? It was reported that in at least one Home Guard unit, the guards took with them on patrol duty packets of pepper which would, if required, be thrown into the eyes of invaders and thus interfere with their vision!?? ? THE DAD'S ARMY ROLE Being a Home Guard volunteer was far from easy.? All but a few members would work all day in their full time jobs and then (later that evening) take up their Home Guard duties.? It was also extremely dangerous too with some 1206 members killed whilst serving on duty and 557 seriously wounded.?A Home Guard member inspects his unit's riflesCapturing the enemy - a Home Guard Exercise.?So what did the Home Guard actually do?? ? Members of the Home Guard were involved in the: - Manning of aircraft batteries - Around 142,000 brave men served in this type of post with over 1000 killed whilst on dutyPatrolling ofWaterways (such as canals and rivers)Railway stationsCoastlinesFactoriesAerodromesOne reason why these Home Guard patrols were so essential was to (as one myth went) "enable them to intercept German parachutists from landing on British soil disguised as Nuns!"? Clearing up of debris following air raid attacks Searching through rubble for trapped civilians following air raid attacksOffering (if required) of fighting assistance to the army -? There was even a Home Guard section of ‘Skating Boys’ who could deliver this help speedily by ‘roller-skating’ their way to the place they were called!Construction of concrete pill boxes Erecting of defence lines including the laying of anti-tank obstacles, barbed wire barriers along beaches and farming implements acting as road block check points Placement of obstacles in fields to prevent enemy aircraft from landingPractising of guerrilla tactics/formations - The Home Guard created special secret auxiliary units so that if invasion did happen, they would (in the words of Churchill) “fight every street of London and suburbs and devour an invading army” Removal of or blacking out of signposts Improvement of weapons skills by hours of target practice - Believe it or not, but a German bomber was actually shot down by the rifle fire of the Home Guard after it was sighted flying over a London district!?Guarding of Buckingham Palace - The Royal Family* had its own Home Guard Company which formed part of the 1st County of London (Westminster) Battalion.? This particular honour befell the Home Guard in its third year Bomb DisposalOf course, while recruits enthusiastically carried out their duties, they would always be listening out for the ring of church bells - the pre-arranged signal announcing the start of Germany's invasion.?All of these responsibilities helped to release the regular army to do other equally important tasks.? It also helped to boost the morale of troops serving overseas, for they knew a very able force back ‘home’ was looking after their families.ONE IN THE EYE FOR HITLER Despite Hitler and the other fascist armies often sneering at the Home Guard, Hitler (in particular) was all too aware of the growing strength of British Civil Defence.? HOME GUARD 'CALL-UP'? Under the National Service (Number 2) Act of December 1941, male civilians found that they could be ordered to join the Home Guard and attend up to 48 hours training a month.? This 'call-up' was quite a surprise especially considering that the numbers of volunteers never fell below one million! THE HOME GUARD GROWS IN STRENGTH? To mark the first anniversary of the Home Guard, a parade was held at Buckingham Palace on the 20th May 1941.? With its volunteers totalling 1.5 Million at this point in time, the Home Guard was clearly going from strength to strength. In one of Churchill's many speeches, he said of the Home Guard; "1940.? If the enemy had descended suddenly in large numbers from the sky in different parts of the country, they would have found only little clusters of men mostly armed with shotguns, gathered around our search light positions.? But now, whenever he comes, if he comes, he will find wherever he should place his foot, that he will be immediately attacked by resolute, determined men who have a perfectly clear intention and resolve to namely put him to death!" ?ALL GOOD THINGS MUST COME TO AN ENDThis growing of strength was how it was over the next three years until in late 1944, the Home Guard were finally disbanded.? With the Battle of Britain long won and invasion looking less and less likely, everybody was now preparing for victory and not invasion.? And after 'Operation Overlord', a real feeling of this victory being within Britain's grasp was shared.? Even when Hitler unleashed onto the country his V1 and V2 terror weapons, resulting in thousands of civilian deaths, Britain's earlier belief in a German invasion was now seen as unrealistic.? So on the 3rd December 1944, with a stand down parade of 7000 men in London, the Home Guard finally bowed out. THE SEARCH FOR ALLIES It was essential for Britain to ally herself with other countries. During World War One it took the might of the British Empire, the French Empire, the United States and Russia to overcome and eventually defeat Germany. Both Chamberlain and Halifax agreed that allies would be needed to defeat Germany in the event of a future war. However, very little seems to have been done to obtain allies during the run up to the Second World War. In fact, due to the policy of appeasement, Czechoslovakia was sacrificed to the Germans in 1938 and therefore Britain not only lost the support of a well-equipped military power but also isolated Russia, who eventually moved towards rapprochement with Germany.RUSSIAChamberlain was greatly suspicious of Russia and thought that Russia planned to take over Europe and impose communism on her. He also believed that Russia wanted to see Britain and at war with other capitalist states. Russia was viewed as militarily weak. There was some justification in this especially following the Russo- Finish war of 1938.Chamberlain stated, ‘I must confess a most profound distrust of Russia. I have no belief whatsoever in her ability to maintain an effective offensive, even if she wanted to. And I distrust her motives, which seem to me to have a little connection without ideas of liberty’. Russia’s military weakness was highlighted in 1938 when they attacked Finland. The war did not turn out as planned and Stalin was forced to sue for peace without the terms she desired. Additionally, his purges had resulted in the deaths of 35,000 senior officers. The failure to reach an agreement with Russia can be regarded as a strategic error. Hence, many people within government did not want to ally Britain with a totalitarian military incompetent and backward country. The main criticism for not reaching an agreement with the Russians comes from Churchill. In his book the Gathering Storm he his very critical of Chamberlain for his failure to come to an agreement over this issue. On the other hand the Soviet Union, which (as Stalin had not forgotten) Churchill had tried to strangle at birth, was actually part of the problem, not of the solution; only a mentality as Anglo-centric as Churchill's could have imagined otherwise. This was because most of the countries of Central and Eastern Europe only survived, diplomatically, by balancing between Russia and Germany. Few liked Germany, but even fewer favoured Stalin's communist alternative. A few rulers, like the wily King Boris of Bulgaria, suspected that Communism was just the latest excuse for Russian imperialism; no one thought that Stalin was a solution to their problems. Furthermore, on the military front there were very real doubts about whether the recently purged Red Army would be a match for the Germans.In relation to Russia there was also a very obvious geographical problem, which Churchill overlooked. Russia could not help Czechoslovakia directly because she had no common border - and neither of the two countries with direct access to Czechoslovakia was likely to offer Russia any help. The Poles, who had suffered under Russian misrule for more than a century and whose independence had been won at Russian expense, would be unlikely, understandably, to want Soviet troops on Polish soil. That left only Rumania, where King Carol, facing a challenge from a strong local fascist movement, was not going to risk alienating it by co-operating with Communist Russia.THE USA Britain always hoped the USA would be an ally of theirs during the Second World War. However, it took 2 years for the USA to join the war and even then it was Germany and Japan who declared war on the USA. This was due to the Neutralities Act, signed by the states after World War One. The USA had become isolationist and did not want to get involved in any other conflict in Europe. Britain did receive loans from the USA during the war though. This was because of the policy of Lend Lease which said that America would help Britain in paying for war. The failure to ally with America had a significant effect when war broke out. As Chamberlain stated, ‘It is always safe to count on nothing from the Americans other than words’30. Yet at the same time it is important to point out that the USA, despite its isolationist credentials had shown a willingness to negotiate with Germany and Britain in 1938 and 1939 in order to resolve the differences that existed in Europe. In his epic war volume ‘The Gathering Storm’, Churchill points out that, ‘Chamberlain spurned the efforts of President Roosevelt in his attempts to reach agreement with Germany’.On the other hand however, Contrary to the view promoted by Churchill, Prime Minister Chamberlain did not reject his plans without taking official advice, but as far as the Foreign Office was concerned, Churchill's ideas were the equivalent of amateur night at the karaoke bar, and the arguments against them were very strong. America, the first part of the 'Grand Alliance', was still an isolationist power. It had no army capable of intervening in Europe and no politician arguing for such a policy. Britain always hoped the USA would be an ally during the Second World War. However, it took 2 years for the USA to join and even then it was Germany and Japan who declared war on the USA. This was due to the Neutralities Act, signed ratified after World War One. The USA had become isolationist and did not want to get involved in any other conflict. Britain did receive loans from the USA during the war through the policy of Lend Lease. The failure to ally with America had a significant effect when war broke out. As Chamberlain stated, ‘It is always safe to count on nothing from the Americans other than words’. Yet at the same time it is important to point out that the USA, despite her isolationist credentials had shown a willingness to negotiate with Germany and Britain in 1938 and 1939 in order to resolve the differences that existed in Europe. ITALYThe question of Italy as an ally was inevitable. In 1935 the Italians had invaded Abyssinia (Ethiopia) and as a result the anti German alliance (signed by Britain, Italy and France) known as the Stresa Front collapsed. Britain therefore imposed economic sanctions on Italy. This had major strategic consequences as it forced the two fascist nations together in what was known as the “Pact of Steel”. They were forced into the arms of Hitler. Thus, Britain’s attempt to obtain an ally in the Mediterranean failed. It seems incredible that Britain, who at the time controlled almost one quarter of the earths surface, set about condemning the Italians who had invaded a country that most westerners had never even heard of.SPAINBritain remained neutral during the Spanish Civil War, and as a result the long term consequences were to be seen in the fact that Spain remained Neutral also during the Second World War. Recent evidence suggests that Britain had supported the nationalists during the conflict in Spain and they allowed the nationalists to set up listening bases on Gibraltar. They signed trade agreements with the fascists and even denied that the bombing of Guernica happened. The Spanish thus did not turn to the Germans during world war two. In 1940 Hitler attempted to persuade Franco to join the axis powers but this failed. Hitler later stated he would rather have “all his teeth pulled out than go through another meeting with Franco”32. Again although Spain’s neutrality benefited Britain it is difficult to suggest that this was the long term intention of Britain. Had Spain turned to the Axis powers’ it would have been disastrous for Britain and her control of not only the Mediterranean but also the whole of Africa. THE EMPIREDuring World War One, the Empire had made huge sacrifices for Britain. As tension built up in Europe there was a growing reluctance on the part of the white dominions to fight for Britain. Australia had suffered terribly at the ill-fated Gallipoli Campaign in World War One. Canada had also suffered many casualties during the conflict. At Vimy Ridge in France during World War One many Canadian soldiers were killed. Andrew Hunt states in ‘The Road to War’, ‘Would the Empire help? Britain already had the answer. South Africa had indicated that it would help. Australia and New Zealand wouldn’t commit themselves while only Canada said ‘yes’33. By following the policy of appeasement, the Empire and the Dominions could see that Britain had tried a peaceful approach in trying to deal with Germany but this had failed and therefore the dominions and the Empire rallied to the mother country when war broke out. FRANCEThe Foreign Office analysis also ruled out help from France. Ever since Britain had refused to back the French in a hard-line anti-German policy in 1923, the French had relied upon a defensive strategy against Berlin; they were not going to change in the late 1930s at Churchill's behest. France was a badly divided country, where many right-wing politicians preferred Hitler to the socialist premier, Leon Blum. That left only Britain herself to make up the proposed 'Alliance'.Britain’s search for allies was unsuccessful. Britain did not have many allies and lost important support of Russia, Italy, and until later in the war, the USA. Britain had small accomplishments in that Spain did not become an ally of Germany and most of the Empire and Dominions came in on the side of Britain. Considering the search for allies, Britain made too many strategic errors.THE ECONOMY The first eight months of the war are often described as the "Phony War", for the relative lack of action abroad. Yet at home Chamberlain and the conservative government did very little to put the economy on a war footing. As Chamberlain himself stated it was to be “business as usual”. Yet a major war requires an all out effort on the part of everyone as was evident in World War One. Chamberlain however was unwilling to interfere in the workings of the economy. He was in the end hoping in the end for a negotiated peace. He himself stated “How he hated this war”. In 1940, Bevin entered the war cabinet as Labour Secretary. From 1945 until 1951, Bevin served as Foreign Secretary in the Attlee governmentAs Calder pointed out “the Government knew what had to be done but in the end the havered. They were frightened of interfering with private firms. They terrified of provoking the unions. They were scared of the middle class reaction to rationing and other belt tightening measures.”The war machine according to AJP Taylor. “The war machine resembled an expensive motor car beautifully polished, complete in every detail, except that there was no petrol in the tank”.Calder argues that the first budget the Chancellor sir John Simon was a “timid affair”. Income tax increased from five shillings sixpence to seven shillings.Pint of beer increased by a penny.Tobacco and sugar were taxed more heavily. Part of the increased profits made by industry (brought about by rearmament) would be taxed at 60%.This annoyed the socialist who pointed out that in war companies should not make profits!This annoyed the conservatives who pointed out that a 60% tax was too excessive!Calder goes on to state that “such measures were hardly likely to sustain a mighty war effort.”Rationing was not introduced until January 1940 despite ration books being available since 1938. The cost of living and the shortage of supplies eventually forced the issue. The price of clothes had risen by a quarter as did the price of basic household items. Many of the unions were now calling for wage increases to match the rising prices. One opinion poll suggested that the six out of ten people at the time wanted rationing introduced at the outset. When that war broke out Chamberlain also failed to persuade the unions of the struggle for survival. Churchill on the other hand realised the need to get Bevin on board as a way of achieving national unity. The unions were concerned with the cost of living and as a result demanded an increase in wages. This worried the government who feared an increase in inflation. According to Calder the government regarded the Unions as not as potential allies but as potential enemies. Without consulting the Trade Unions the government forced through through the “Control of Employment Act”. The aim of this was to ensure that skilled workers could be directed to where they were needed most. It did not have the desired impact. Skilled Workers were being poached by companies who were offering bonus rates of up to 100%. The aircraft industry was the main culprit. They poached skilled workers from the vital Machine tools industry. This was probably the most important industry in Britain without which no weapons or aircraft could be produced. Again Calder points out that “the failure to redistribute the supply of Labour was one of key factors limiting the expansion of war industry”.At a time when Britain urgently needed to increase its manufacturing output of essential war supplies unemployment still stood at over one million in 1940, again this highlighted the government’s want of resolution and a complete waste of manpower. In his second budget Simon put the standard rate of income tax up to seven shillings and sixpence; there was another penny on Beer half a penny on more on cigarettes. Postal charges were increased hitting families in a peculiarly mean way. Again this amounted to a complete failure to realise what was needed to be done. As Paul Addison points out “the main reason for the fall of chamberlain was his Governments failure to overcome the distrust of the trade unions, which underlay the disappointing performance of war industry”A key criticism of Neville Chamberlain was his ability to transform the economy. The coal industry managed to raise output by only 19%. This was vital as it was an essential means of fuel for the munitions industry. However, Britain’s competitors did better. Germany for example raised its coal output by 81% between 1913 and 1936. Shipbuilding also fell below foreign rivals. Robert MacKay states, ‘Britain entered the Second World War in 1939 with a shipbuilding industry that was rusting, partly dismantled and partly unmanned hulk of essentially Victorian technology’. C L Mowat argues that, ‘Britain had made a rod for her own back during her period of absolute domination of the seas in the 19th and early 20th century’. The dated industry was not able to build new ships quickly and efficiently enough and like the coal industry, strikes were common. Steel also suffered and Britain had to resort to importing from America. There was also a decline in oil and petrol outputs. D Dilks says that Britain ‘would still have to trade abroad in order to purchase the necessary raw materials’, which suggests Britain relied on imports from overseas during the Second World War. This was clearly evident in the case of ‘Lend Lease’ when by 1940 Britain had to go to the Americans cap in hand. Conversely, the chemical industry and other modern industries had greater expansion. Thus Britain made more explosives, industrial gases, and plastics. As C L Mowat states that, ‘Massive advances had been made in the field of chemical engineering’. Many industries were transformed into ‘shadow factories’ (as Angus Calder states) where designing and creation of engine parts for aircraft took place, which greatly increased production of aircraft such as the new Spitfires and Hurricanes. In fact by 1940 production of Spitfires and Hurricanes was reaching nearly 500 per month compared with the German figure of only 140 for their own similar aircraft. The economy was more efficient at the outbreak of war than it was before the depression but Chamberlain was still criticised for managing the economy inefficiently. According to Paul Addison’s book ‘The Road to 1945 the ‘The Times’ stated that Chamberlain’s government, ‘lacked the resolution, policy or energy demanded by the country and situation itself’4.THE ECONOMY AT WARPolicies and instrumentsCoalition government had come to seem inevitable. So, too, it was thought likely that war would bring increased government control of the nation's economic life: the First World War had shown that while "Business as Usual" might be good for morale, it was unsuitable as a formula for victory. The earlier conflict had also acted as a warning to government of the dangers of unchecked inflation and profits on popular feelings in general and the Labour force in particular. This time it would not be necessary to learn by experience that ensuring the supply of the huge armed forces of modern war required nothing less than a centrally-managed economy; practically all civilian activity would be directed to some degree by officials based in Whitehall. Planning for this had in fact been well under way from the 1930s and an impressive weight of enabling legislation was put through parliament in the first days of war.The transformation from a largely free-market economy to a centrally-directed economy did not come about overnight, however, nor even in the first 12 months of the war. Rather, the transition to a thorough-going economy for total war was an uneven process, as much the product of external events as of the steady implementation of a comprehensive strategy. Those events correspond to two distinct periods in the development of Britain's war economy: from September 1939 to mid-1940, and from mid-1940 to the end of the war. The first period, the Phoney War, began with an impression, at least, of a government moving quickly to take control of the economy.Already armed through the Emergency Powers (Defence) Act to issue Statutory Rules and Orders, which it did by the score, it set up new ministries for Supply, Food, Shipping, Economic Warfare, Home Security and Information; all this before the actual declaration of war. But the Phoney War was in fact more characterized by the unhurried pace of the adjustments Chamberlain's Government thought it necessary to make to the economy now that war had finally come. This was deliberate. The calculation was that since Britain was unready for offensive action against Germany, and France was locked into a largely defensive posture, "the long game" was the best strategy. France would hold the Germans, and in the meantime Anglo- French strength would be built up to the point of overwhelming superiority and economic warfare would weaken the enemy's capacity and will to fight. It followed that there was no need to convert the economy at a pace that would cause disruption; the timescale for the strategy, after all, was three years. Such complacent presumption of Hitler's willingness to play the role assigned to him has occasioned much criticism of Chamberlain and his Cabinet. But equally blameworthy is their failure to think through the economic implications of their strategy. As has been shown, the rearmament programme began late, and when war came much remained to be done. If Britain was to field the promised 32 division army before the end of the first year of war and at the same time reach its targets of aeroplane and ship production, a much more rapid and. extensive imposition of economic controls was required. Instead of concerning itself with comprehensive planning of the nation's resources, the government focused on the supply of the armed forces. Sir John Simon's first war budget showed concern to limit the growth of government expenditure and control inflation. An export drive was promoted in the belief that a balance of payments surplus might provide the resources needed for the war. The leisurely speed of mobilization was evident in the fact that government expenditure was running only a third higher in the sixth month of the war than in the first. After eight months of war, there were still over one million people unemployed. Movement towards husbanding resources and curbing waste was slow and uneven, too. The government did move early on to take over the importation of raw materials, but allocations to industry allowed too many inessential goods to continue to be made. Inessential goods could be imported only under licence, but licences were not difficult to obtain. Shipping space was not rigorously rationed, though all knew that in total war this would be a vital resource.2 Ration books, ready since 1938, were issued at the end of September but food rationing did not begin until January 1940, and only then because an opinion poll showed that, Press hostility notwithstanding, most people thought it would be the best way of ensuring fair shares of scarce essentials.The explanation for this sluggish response to the state of war does not lie in official ignorance. Chamberlain, his ministers and his advisers had all lived through the First World War, after all. They knew, therefore, that modern war involved the mobilization of the nation's entire resources. Indeed, in opting for the "long game" they were confirming a belief in the efficacy of a war of attrition, in which victory went to the side that did better at maximizing its resources. Logically, the sooner a start was made to convert fully to an updated version of the total war economy of 1917-18, the more likely it would be that Britain would be that winning side. But Chamberlain's belief that Hitler had been bluffing and had "missed the bus" led him to hold back from this course. He covertly hoped that there would soon be an opportunity to extricate Britain from her situation by diplomatic means, without the necessity for all-out war and the disruption of the economic order this would entail. In any case, he and his colleagues had a horror of upsetting the vested interests of that order. In the words of Angus Calder:They were frightened of interfering with private firms. They were terrified of provoking the trade unions. They were scared of the middle-class reaction to "belt-tightening" measures which would help divert workers, factories, raw materials and shipping space from peacetime amenities to war-like manufactures. 3He knew that it would involve a greater degree of co-operation with the trade unions, something he was loath to initiate because he believed they would try to use the situation to further their sectional interests. Co-opting prominent industrialists was one thing, bringing the ruc into the corridors of power was another. Should it turn out that his gamble on a short war was mistaken, the official "long game" strategy would smooth the path to the inevitable. As a more charitable historian put it: "He preferred to proceed as if waiting for events in Europe to convince labour, management and public of the need for self-sacrifice".4The events of April-June 1940, as it happened, provided the stimulus for this to be brought about. Hitler's hugely successful western offensives, especially the crushing of France, jolted Britain's leaders out of the complacent belief that they had control of the way the war would be fought. In place of an even matching of forces was a preponderance of German military power, further enhanced by the capture of huge economic resources. The evacuation of the expeditionary force at Dunkirk, the threat of invasion, the fight for control of the English Channel air space, and the start of the bombing of Britain's cities, all served to concentrate minds on the urgency of creating an all-out war economy as a crucial element in what had now become a struggle for survival. Naturally, the willingness of the people to accept the burdens and dangers of this struggle, the so-called "Dunkirk spirit", would have helped any government in this task. As it happened, this crisis also gave Britain the much more vigorous leadership of Winston Churchill. That he led a coalition government, moreover, ensured the support of the whole people for the austerity he now imposed upon them. Unlike Chamberlain, he could make extraordinary demands and know that by and large they would be accepted. The sharpness of the disruption of the strategic plan to which the war economy had been geared produced a period of hyperactive improvisation. Orders and controls descended thick and fast on industry, labour and consumers. Only gradually, over the following years, did a coherent, integrated total war economy take shape. The basic strategy remained unchanged: assuming the crisis would be weathered; Britain and her allies would build up their strength to the point where German power could be successfully challenged. But with no free allies left in Europe, the USA sympathetic but still neutral, the USSR apparently a lost hope and only the distant Dominions as committed sources of succour, the long-term strategy looked unreasonably optimistic. In any case, finding the means for survival came first. For a short time in 1940, therefore, the concept of the "crash programme", to make good a pressing deficiency of supply for some key item of war materiel, became operational. Ordnance and aircraft were high priorities in the summer of 1940, and this was recognized in the rapid expansion of factory space and a concentration on the making of only five aircraft types, mainly fighters. Using methods described by Hugh Dalton as "constant banditry and intrigues against all colleagues", the Minister of Aircraft Production, Lord Beaverbrook, presided over a doubling of fighter production between April and September.5Churchill readily recognized that crash programmes were not the solution to the underlying task of rearming Britain for victory. Alongside improvisations like that which produced the nation-saving machines of the Battle of Britain, steps were taken to ensure three things: the equipping of an army of three million that would defend Britain and her empire, and ultimately invade Europe; the building of a modem long-range bomber fleet with which to strike directly at the enemy; and the expansion of the Royal Navy and the Merchant Navy both to keep Britain supplied with the imported raw materials and food she needed, and to choke off those of the enemy.The institutional heart of the conversion to a full-blown war economy was a revamped Lord President's Committee. A small group consisting mainly of cabinet ministers, chaired by the Lord President of the Council (initially Chamberlain, then from October, Sir John Anderson), it had assigned to it the general supervision of the nation's economic effort. It co-ordinated the work of the other home Cabinet committees with an economic remit (Home Policy, Food Policy) and from January 1941 it oversaw the activities of two other groups, the Production Executive and the Import Executive. The former was chaired by the Minister of Labour and National Service, Ernest Bevin, and its functions included the allocation of labour, raw materials and factory space, and the setting of priorities, when necessary. Sir Andrew Duncan, Minister of Supply, chaired the Import Executive, whose task was "to animate and regulate the whole business of importation in accordance with the policy of the War Cabinet".6 Over the next 18 months, owing mainly to the skill and effectiveness of Anderson, the Lord President's Committee gained in standing and power, becoming the real powerhouse of wartime economic policy, while other committees gave up part of their functions to it or disappeared entirely.The picture of "muddling through" giving way to expertise and scientifically-devised planning is completed by the swelling presence and importance of economists and statisticians in the work of the committees and ministerial departments concerned with the war economy. Anderson's committee had working for it the Cabinet's Economic Section, which included some distinguished university economists. The Central Statistical Office, formed at the same time as the Economic Section January 1941), had also recruited several leading academics in the field, and the Treasury had engaged the services of John Maynard Keynes, an economist of international repute, and of Hugh Henderson and Dennis Robertson, both future professors of economics. From the experts came plans for a total war economy: mobilization of all available labour, drastic curtailment of consumer goods production, complete control of imports, expansion of dollar-earning exports, and measures to ensure fairness in the financial burden that would load the people. A few voices had been raised in favour of instituting a "siege economy" in which the state would direct, feed and house the entire pop lation. But more moderate counsels prevailed. While it is true that the revised Emergency Powers Act of May 1940 placed almost limitless powers in government hands, in practice the conversion to a total war economy proceeded by consent rather than compulsion. Little direct control of industry occurred; ownership remained in private hands and there was no programme to create a state sector. Some basic industries and services, such as the railways and the ports, did come under direction amounting to government control, and the Board of Trade made detailed directives to consumption goods industries, e.g. hosiery, pottery, floor-coverings.7 For the most part, however, control was indirect. Owners and managers of private firms were left to work out their own ways of adapting to an operational environment in which the government determined prices centrally, allocated raw materials and labour, licensed capital equipment and varied the tax burden.The general restrictions on civilian production that resulted from the limitations of Supplies Order of June 1940 and various raw material controls had by early 1941 revealed scope for further diversion of labour and other resources into war production. Many firms were working well below capacity. In the hosiery industry, for instance, the restrictions led to the wasteful development of workers being put onto short time. The concentration of production policy, begun in March 1941, aimed to concentrate the reduced production of the restricted industries in a designated number of factories. This would ensure that every working factory operated at full capacity and the remaining factories were released for war production or storage. By July 1943 concentration had been largely completed, covering 70 branches of industry.8 In the process, many manufacturers of clothing and household goods had had to conform to the Board of Trade's "Utility" standards. This involved a simplification of design and reduction of product types in order to cut down the amount of raw materials used. In this way it was hoped that the nation's needs might be met from a reduced consumer goods industry.Of all resources targeted by the concentration of production policy, none was more vital than labour. The acuteness of the problem was all at once apparent in the post-Dunkirk period: not only would the raising of a mass army remove from the workforce millions of men at the most productive stage of their lives, but the equipping of that army would require increased production from a potentially shrinking workforce, once the pool of unemployed had been drained. At the same time, the Axis, starting with a larger population-base than Britain, had through conquest vastly increased its productive capacity. It was widening the gap still further by successfully attacking the merchant ships that brought in imports to beleaguered Britain. All this pointed to the need to make labour the top priority in the organization of the war economy. Over the period to the end of 1942 the government established a system of manpower budgeting and allocation that became its principal planning device. A series of National Service Acts made men aged 18 to 50 liable for military service or essential civilian war service, and women aged 20 to 50 liable for service in the Women's Auxiliary Services or the Civil Defence Services. The Schedule of Reserved Occupations ensured that skilled workers in vital war industries were not called up for the armed forces, and the Essential Works Orders controlled the supply and movement of labour. Employers were prevented from "poaching" the workers of rivals by the requirement that labour might be taken on only through the employment exchanges and the trade unions. The skills shortage was targeted in an expansion of government training centres where skills were taught.Limited food rationing had begun in January 1940 but increasing pressure on shipping space, together with the switch from production of consumer goods to war goods, led the government progressively to establish a more thorough-going system of rationing, taking in clothing, furniture and furnishing. Basic foodstuffs were rationed by prescribed minimum quantities per week (although bread and potatoes were never rationed); workers in "heavy" industries were allowed supplements; subsidized milk was given to expectant and nursing mothers and children under five. For less essential foods and for clothing a flexible system of "points" rationing was devised. This allowed the consumer to choose between a range of goods carrying a different "points" score.To support food rationing a drive to raise agricultural production was instituted; its main feature was the conversion of pasture-land to arable, thereby reducing meat production in favour of the more efficient production of cereals and vegetables for human consumption. Farmers were given subsidies to plough up grassland, raise the quality of the reduced pasture, improve drainage and remove unnecessary hedges. Further encouragement came in the form of guaranteed prices and markets, drawing in even the high cost or marginal producers. The organizers of all this were the County Agricultural Executive Committees ("War Ags"), consisting of eight to twelve voluntary members appointed by the Ministry of Agriculture from among local residents, mostly farmers, but including estate agents, seed and feed merchants, -dairy-produce retailers, agricultural trade unionists and Women's Land Army representatives. These, together with their small district subcommittees and full-time paid staff, oversaw the production and conversion drive, inspecting farms, giving detailed advice or instructions, allocating machinery, fertilizers, feedstuffs and labour. Under the Defence Regulations they could dispossess tenants who resisted their instructions and send in their own labour to carry out the work, drawing on the pool of the Women's Land Army, conscientious objectors and prisoners of war. Alongside this serious attempt to reduce dependency on imported foodstuffs, and probably still more for purposes of popu1ar morale, the Ministry of Food urged everyone to reduce waste and those who cou1d to grow their own vegetables or keep backyard hens and pigs.From May 1940 physical planning remained the chief means of managing the war economy: finance was subordinated to strategy. Nevertheless, for several reasons, finance continued to be an important instrument of government policy for the war economy. In the first place, controls had not removed the basic financial incentive from employers and employees. It followed that manipulation of the financial and fiscal regime cou1d help to maximize output and productivity. Secondly, intervention was necessary to maintain the value of the pound abroad and to channel foreign exchange reserves towards essential imported war needs. Lastly, both for the sake of justice and for the sustaining of popular morale, the government needed to use the fiscal system to ensure that the financial burden of the war fell equitably on the nation.The military reversal of mid-1940 was, as in so much else, the catalyst of change in fiscal policy. It brought Keynes into the Treasury and with him the adoption of his ideas for achieving the above aims and paying for the war without unleashing uncontrollable inflation. Keynes had been arguing from the start of the war against the Treasury's way of assessing revenue on the basis of what the taxpayer could bear. He said it shou1d start at the other end: first work out the national income to ascertain the war-making potential of the economy; then calculate the level of taxation and forced savings needed to allow the government to absorb a greater share of the national income without stimu1ating inflation.9 As Keynes explained it, inflation was inherent in a war economy of reduced consumer goods production and expanded war production. Unless government intervened to stop it, an "inflationary gap" would open up between demand and supply. His solution, properly realised in Kingsley Wood's April 1941 budget, was for the government to absorb the inflation threatening excess demand through taxation and forced savings. 10 The budget estimated the inflationary gap to be about ?500 million. This would be closed by ?250 million from additional taxation and ?200-300 million from forced savings. Income tax went up to 50 per cent (it had been 9 per cent at the start of the war); personal allowances were reduced; purchase tax was increased to 100 per cent (from 60 per cent). Government bonds were offered at attractive rates, while some other investment outlets were suspended. Banks were pressed to lend their idle balances to the government and made to restrict advances for capital construction. In the remaining wartime budgets these principles were maintained and refined. In September 1943 Pay As You Earn was introduced to make collection easier and more efficient, and purchase tax was developed into an instrument for reducing or diverting consumption.Hand in hand with the policy of increased taxation and forced savings went that of cost-of-living subsidies, designed to prevent wage inflation in a full employment economy. Food subsidies, begun in November 1939, became an integral and expanding part of the policy of controlling the cost-of-livifig index for the rest of the war. Since food represented 60 per cent of the index, the control of food prices was the first priority, but the government held down rents, too, and under the Goods and Services (price Control) Act of July 1941, checked price rises in a wide range of items such as clothing, household durables, fuel and fares.PerformanceConsideration of the degree of success achieved by the policies and instruments described above might begin with the national income. Like all the other belligerents, Britain could only sustain its huge war production expenditures by increasing the national income. Between 1939 and 1945 national income increased by two-thirds, the most rapid period of growth occurring between 1939 and 1943. Within this growth was a large shift in the distribution of national expenditure. The government sector accounted for 12.5 per cent of total national expenditure in 1938; by 1943 it was 52 per cent. This increase was achieved at the expense of investment in non-war-related activity and of consumption of non-war goods and services. In effect, the war was being paid for by a massive capital investment programme undertaken by the State; the economy became a market where the State financed production and consumption.11 Gross domestic product grew at an average annual rate of 6.2 per cent, reaching a peak in 1943, 27 per cent higher than in 1939, though falling back by 1944 to below the 1940 level. This compared favourably with the expansion in real output achieved in the First World War: then, the peak year (1917) was only 1 per cent above the pre-war level. Of the principal combatant countries in the Second World War only the United States surpassed Britain's increase in real domestic product. 12How efficiently Britain mobilized its enlarged national product is a complex question that continues to generate argument, much of it concerned with the post-war consequences of exaggerated claims made about the wartime performance.13 A study by Mark Harrison, however, commands general respect for its pioneering attempt to overcome the difficulties of evaluating wartime economic performance comparatively.14 He concludes that in mobilizing its domestic resources for war Britain did less well than the other main belligerents. The peak percentage on military spending (47 per cent) trailed that of the USSR from 1942 on, of the USA from 1943 on, and that of Germany throughout the war. In terms of labour mobilization alone, however, he concludes that Britain was bettered only by the USSR. Taking 1943 as the point of comparison, Britain had 45.3 per cent of its working population in war-related work, alongside the USSR'S 54 per cent, the USA'S 35.4 per cent and Germany's 37.6 per cent.15 Also, only the Soviet Union outdid Britain in exploiting the potential of female labour: in Britain 2.2 million of the 2.8 million increase in gainfully-occupied persons between 1939 and the peak year of 1943 were women.16 Success in getting women into the workforce was matched by success in deploying them into previously male-dominated sectors. In 1939 only 19 per cent of the insured workforce in engineering was female, 27 per cent in the chemical industry, 34 per cent in the metals industries; by 1943 the proportions had increased to 34 per cent, 52 per cent and 46 per cent, respectively. The pressing need for staff in local and national government was met by the taking on of an additional 500,000 women, raising their proportion in the workforce from 17 to 46 per cent. In addition to the 470,000 women taken into the armed forces, over 80,000 became full-time members of the Women's Land Army. At the peak of female mobilization in 1943 an estimated 7.75 million women were in paid work, and another one million were in the wvs. This growth was achieved, it should be noted, in a singularly unpromising culture medium. Opportunities for women to find steady paid work outside the home were not great in pre-war Britain. They consisted largely of low-skilled, low-paid work for young women without family commitments. Once those commitments appeared, few employers were willing to keep them on. At a time of high unemployment, moreover, there was social pressure on women to make way for men in the job market, a pressure as strong in the home as in the factory. When the wartime labour shortage made women's labour-power essential, therefore, a major change in attitude was required not just of employers, male workers and husbands, but of women themselves, so pervasive was the old mindset that the proper sphere of women was the home and the family. This is reflected in the disproportionate prominence in official propaganda of appeals to women to take up war work, and of publicity about the crucial importance to the war effort of the work being done by women. A Ministry of Labour recruiting advertisement rather heavy-handedly got the message across thus:When Marion's boy-friend was called up, she wanted to be in it too. So she asked the employment exchange about war-work. . . In next to no time they had fixed her up at a government Training Centre, learning to make munitions. . . And before long she was in an important war job. At last she felt she was really "doing her bit" . . . Jim was proud of her when he came home on leave. He knows how much equipment counts in modem warfare.More imaginatively, the government backed the making of Launder and Gilliatt's 1943 feature-film Millions like us, in which a not too idealized picture of women on the factory front was conveyed to potential recruits and unreconstructed male chauvinists alike. But persuasive films and slogans like "Go to It" were of little use to mothers of pre-school children without access to day nurseries, or to married women contemplating the feasibility of managing both a full-time job and shopping for the family. Hence the official afterthoughts of nursery provision in factories on government contracts, and priority shopping-cards for working women with families. The cheerful working housewife in a 1941 publicity film goes from workplace to grocer's shop, with the voice-over saying: "Her things are ready for her. No queuing. No waste of time. . . One of the ways of solving the problems of the Home Front. . . the people on the spot getting together, seeing what has to be done and then doing it." With, it might be added, the facilitating hand of the Ministry of Labour smoothing their path.Even so, the inducements and appeals did not persuade as many as were needed from the pool of potential workers. The National Service (No. 2) Act of December 1941 makes it plain that even among the young single-woman category too many had been resisting the call. The Act was initially aimed at unmarried women aged 20 to 30, the lower limit being reduced to 19 in 1942 and the upper raised to 40 in 1943. About 200,000 women were formally directed into industry under the Registration of Employment Order or its successor the National Service (No. 2) Act, although many more entered the services or did war work because they expected to be directed to do so. As for married women with family or domestic responsibilities, who were not liable under the Act, few came forward to participate in war work. "Most felt that their domestic responsibilities, especially under the trying conditions of shortages and "make do and mend", gave them more than enough to occupy their time, even when there was no objection in principle to the idea of going out to work. A report of the Royal Commission on Equal Pay, published after the war, recorded that nearly 10 million women remained "unavailable" even for part-time work. The limits of women's willingness to come forward were equally exposed in relation to voluntary war service, notwithstanding the remarkable feats performed in this field by, for example, the members of the Women's Voluntary Services. As a pamphlet produced in 1944 by the Ministry of Information concluded: "The registrations of women have shown the number available for war work to be largely restricted by domestic responsibilities. The numbers available with no employment and no household duties have been small". While there was general acceptance, approval even, of female conscription, there was no sudden change in the way most women thought about their "natural" role. For many of those formally ineligible the question did not really arise, since the sheer weight of domestic duties left no time for paid work or voluntary service; but even among those for whom it was a possibility, the hold of the traditional role-model appears to have been tenacious. It must be added, however, that despite the real need for female labour, the reactionary attitudes of government, employers and, at least initially, trade unions, on the question of equal pay, obstructed a very obvious way in which more women might have been encouraged into paid work. In the engineering industry, for example, the average wage for women in 1944 was only half that for men. Women in the war industries were typically confined to low-paid, low-status work with few prospects for promotion or access to training and apprenticeship. From the standpoint of the effectiveness of the war economy this prejudice against women workers was counter-productive, since skilled work was desperately needed regardless of the gender of the person doing it.As Minister of Labour, Ernest Bevin had virtually unlimited power to conscript and direct but he resisted the pressure from some quarters to move swiftly down that road. He understood the workers' dislike of compulsion and resolved to reserve it as a last resort. He was therefore acting exceptionally when, in December 1943, he directed ten per cent of eighteen-year-old conscripts ("Bevin boys") to work in the coal mines, which had been failing to maintain workforce numbers for this essential war work.Behind the growth in national income and employment lies a remarkable expansion of the war sector of industry, with a corresponding contraction of the consumer sector, and an equally notable growth in agricultural production. Although the planning was short term and the pace rather slow, the Coalition Government neverthless succeeded in manipulating the economy into fitness for total war. Official statistics published after the war testify to an eight-fold increase in the total output of munitions of all sorts between 1939 and the end of 1943.17 For example, production of 303 rifles went from 34,416 in 1939 to 909,785 in 1943; machine carbines from 6,404 in 1941 to 1,572,445 in 1942; tank and anti-tank guns from 1,000 in 1939 to 36,324 in 1942; tanks from 969 in 1939 to 8,611 in 1942; aircraft of all types from 7,940 in 1939 to 26,461 in 1944; destroyers from 12 in 1939 to 73 in 1942; submarines from 6 in 1939 to 39 in 1943. Machine-tool production rose from 37,000 in 1939 to 95,800 in 1942 and small-tool production from 17,000 in 1942 to 42,000 in 1943. The achievement represented by such figures is the more remarkable if allowance is made for the constant modifications made in weapons design, the increasing complexity of weapons, and the disruption caused by air-raids and relocation of factories. In addition, the steady drive towards armament in depth for all the armed forces had to accommodate the sudden need to respond to unexpected strategic imperatives, such as the priority for fighter aircraft in the summer of 1940, or for submarine destroyers in 1942. In both cases the demand was met by a switch of resources: production of light bombers and fighters went from 703 in the first quarter of 1940 to 1,901 in the third quarter; the 73 destroyers built in 1942 represented a 92 per cent increase on the previous year. 15 What these figures obscure, however, is unevenness of development in the war industries as a whole and numerous inefficiencies in particular sectors. The dramatic success of the Beaverbrook programme in the aircraft industry was achieved only through the impoverishment of other sectors: labour, skill and materials were channelled towards aircraft production to the point where other important areas of production were set back; in tanks, small-arms and anti-aircraft guns, for example. And even the aircraft industry, the most successful in the war economy, could not keep up the pace it set in 1940; by the end of 1942 targets and delivery dates were not being met. Nor did preferential supplying of other industries necessarily produce satisfactory results. The design and production of tanks was a case in point. Numbers produced look impressive, but British tanks compared unfavourably with those produced by the Germans and the Americans; they were slower, less powerful, less well-armed, and were mechanically faulty. Although some of these problems were overcome in time, by the end of the war the British army had effectively made American Sherman tanks its mainstay.The policy of reducing consumer goods production reached its projected levels in most branches by the end of 1943. For example, production of shoes for civilian use from 129 million pairs in 1935 to 87.4 million pairs in 1944; blankets from 6.49 million in 1935 to 2.26 million in 1943; women's stockings and socks from 280 million pairs in 1935 to 131.3 million pairs in 1944. To an important degree this reduction followed from the control of raw materials. This was, theoretically, a straightforward problem for Britain: because a high proportion of raw materials were imported, the government's controls over imports and shipping space would serve as control over raw materials. In addition, the fact that the main source of imported raw materials was the USA meant that after March 1941, when LendLease came into effect, practically all imports came under government control. Another way in which raw materials controls came about was through the need to act in concert with partners. By 1942 Britain was constrained by its participation in the Combined Production and Resources Board, formed with the USA, and in the Raw Materials Committee of the Commonwealth Supply Council. Inside Britain raw materials control was rather casual. It was left to the trade associations to allocate imported materials as they became scarce, and, in the case of non-imported materials, the business organizations of the industries that used them. While the expertise of these supernumerary civil servants was an asset, the system did put a unjustified reliance on the willingness of businessmen always to set the national interest in reducing consumption above the trade's interest in increasing it. The civil servants of the Raw Materials Department of the Ministry of Supply had not the technical expertise to enable them to query the recommendations of the trade and business associations. In practice the sheer scarcity of materials, together with the labour shortage and labour controls, acted to prevent business from exploiting its position. By a combination of circumstance and design, therefore, raw materials control worked sufficiently well to enable the production priorities to be achieved.Food production was an equally successful feature of the war economy. Before the war, Britain relied on imports from abroad for 70 per cent of its calorific needs. This was reduced to 60 per cent during the course of the war, thereby saving valuable shipping space for war goods. The planned contraction of livestock numbers (excluding cattle for milk production) went ahead: pig numbers went down by 58 per cent, sheep and lambs by 24 per cent, poultry by 45 per cent. Arable increased from 11.9 million acres in 1939 to 17.9 million acres in 1944, and output rose by 81 per cent for wheat, 92 per cent for potatoes, 30 per cent for vegetables and 27 per cent for fodder. Yield per acre was increased for nearly all crops, with cereals doing especially well: wheat rose from 17.7 cwt per acre in 1936-8 to 19.7 in 1942-5, oats from 15.7 to 16.7 cwt and barley from 16.4 to 18.5 cwt. These remarkable gains in output and yield were mainly a result of the greater use by farmers of fertilizers and machinery. The financial inducements of government grants and guaranteed prices, together with the activities of the War Agricultural Committees, brought about an acceleration of the process of agricultural modernization, through mechanization and the application of science to methods of production and farm management. 19None of this reduced the need for import controls. Whether home-produced or imported, food supplies would never be enough to make rationing dispensable. If anything, full employment and rising earnings increased demand. As has often been said, the best testimony to the success of the rationing system was the health of the people. For the population as a whole, the level of health was rather higher during the war than before it. In terms of the war economy, rationing achieved its goal of reducing total food imports to release shipping space for war materials, while at the same time ensuring for the average citizen a diet sufficient and varied enough to maintain good health and working efficiency. Basic and monotonous it may have been, but an under-nourished workforce was not a problem the government had to face, thanks to the combined effects of its policies of simultaneously expanding home production, controlling prices, and rationing the reduced amounts of essential foods.To the extent, moreover, that the economic strategy depended on national solidarity, rationing and price controls were generally seen as fair. The wartime Social Survey in 1942 found that only one person in seven was dissatisfied with rationing, and among housewives the figure was one in ten.20That the mobilization of resources and expansion of output may be counted as achievements, none would deny. The productivity of labour, however, is an aspect of Britain's wartime performance that has elicited critical comment. Statistics for output per worker show that although it was 15 per cent higher in 1941 than in 1939, this was in fact the best year of the war; thereafter, productivity declined to a point in 1945 only 4 per cent better than the last year of peace. Even this is probably an overestimate, since official figures assume fewer hours were worked on average than was actually the case. This assumption artificially inflates output per hour.21 A similar distortion arises from the failure of the statistics to take full account of the effort contributed by several categories of worker: the one million men and women over the retirement age; the 900,000 part-time women workers; full-time workers who did part-time munitions work in their spare time; the one million voluntary workers; the 224,000 involuntary workers (pows); refugee and immigrant (mainly Irish) labour. Further, the average performance figures conceal the fact that in some industries, notably coal and shipbuilding, productivity declined in the war years. It has been pointed out, moreover, that other countries' productivity record was much better than Britain's. In the Soviet Union, output per labour unit of time has been estimated to have increased 28 per cent by 1943; in the United States labour productivity rose by 25 per cent between 1939 and 1944; in Germany it rose by 10-12 per cent during the war.22Post-war explanations for what must be counted a relatively disappointing record of industrial productivity have in recent years focused on poor management, unco-operative trade unions, and government failure to invest in industrial restructuring.23 However, while the apportioning of blame for what happened may be in some respects justified, there were a number of factors conducive to poor performance for which no group or institution could reasonably be held responsible. Disruption, delay and dislocation were inherent in the state of all-out war. Of greatest significance were the qualitative changes to the workforce. Dilution of skilled labour continued throughout the war, and while there were doubtless instances where the skill barrier was artificial, and where the introduction of unskilled labour therefore actually improved productivity, it was more often the case that untrained workers could not match the productivity of their skilled or semi-skilled colleagues. The Schedule of Reserved Occupations husbanded skilled labour, but in the context of greatly expanded output needs there was nevertheless a real shortage of skilled labour. This was a problem that a more vigorous exploitation of training facilities might have mitigated, but there was no escaping the reality that the productivity of the wartime workforce was held back by its changed composition.24A brake on productivity inevitably followed from the vulnerability of industry to air attack. To the obvious effects of direct damage from bombs must be added the diversion of effort involved in maintaining air-raid precautions, repairing damage and relocating plant. The bombing of Coventry in November 1940, for example, destroyed or seriously damaged 70 per cent of its 180 largest factories and all major areas of industrial activity were disrupted. By the time the raids of April 1941 came many firms had dispersed their activities to safer locations away from Coventry. 25In any industry productivity was at the mercy of its supply of raw materials or spare parts. The general disruption of war could stop this supply or erode its quality. But it was also inherent in the situation of official controls in which managers had to work to secure their supplies. Temporary shortages of raw materials occurred from time to time despite the elaborate machinery established to give smooth, prioritized allocation. Production delays were the result, with knock-on effect on production and delivery of key items in the manufacturing chain. For example, in January 1941 the Austin Company in Birmingham was forced to cancel subcontract work making aircraft components such as wings, tails and rudders, because of shortages of machinable items. 26 Frequent modification of design specifications was another check on productivity. Military requirements changed, and research and development constantly produced possible improvements to products.The Coventry works of the Rover Company was practically halted for several months early in 1941, both because of the failure of the Gloster Company to fulfil its contract to supply essential material for production of the Albermarle, and because of constant changes in the Air Ministry's specification for the aircraft.27 It could be argued, as Mass Observation did in 1942, that these changing requirements grew out of the basic failings in the government's planning for war production. It was always more or less incoherent and improvised in character; this was even how the government presented the war effort, as Mass Observation pointed out:Production propaganda has been overwhelmingly ad hoc. The emphasis first on planes and then on tanks has added a special ad harness. Production has to be based on steady rhythms, routines, methods, moods. It does not lend itself to catchphrases and sudden spurts. Industrial work requires steady continuous effort. In the nature of things, it must be firmly based on understanding, background information, and appreciation of the process in which one is engaged. No serious attempt has been made to approach the industrial problems of war production in this way.28Some industries were at the point on their growth curve at which further productivity improvements were unlikely. The introduction between the wars of mechanical picks and cutting machinery had made great productivity gains for coal mining, for example, but by the start of the war the possibilities of further mechanization were used up and the inherent tendency of ageing mines to become less productive asserted itself. The best productivity performance tended to be in the newer industries, where technological and organizational change was more easily brought about.29Such change naturally required enterprising and flexible managers: yet another area in which there was unfortunately a shortage of supply. It was all too easy for employers, faced with the difficulties brought by air-raids, government controls and shortages of skilled workers and raw materials, resignedly to retreat into inertia. Inefficient organization of the shop floor too often held back output and productivity. At the machine-tool manufacturer Herbert's of Coventry, for example, production blockages were allowed to persist well into 1941 before the management thought fit to investigate the reasons. Improvement resulted from the investigation, but since managers believed labour shortages were the real problem, and thisThe Coventry works of the Rover Company was practically halted for several months early in 1941, both because of the failure of the Gloster Company to fulfil its contract to supply essential material for production of the Albermarle, and because of constant changes in the Air Ministry's specification for the aircraft.27 It could be argued, as Mass Observation did in 1942, that these changing requirements grew out of the basic failings in the government's planning for war production. It was always more or less incoherent and improvised in character; this was even how the government presented the war effort, as Mass Observation pointed out:Production propaganda has been overwhelmingly ad hoc. The emphasis first on planes and then on tanks has added a special ad hocness. Production has to be based on steady rhythms, routines, methods, moods. It does not lend itself to catchphrases and sudden spurts. Industrial work requires steady continuous effort. In the nature of things, it must be firmly based on understanding; background information, and appreciation of the process in which one is engaged. No serious attempt has been made to approach the industrial problems of war production in this way.28Some industries were at the point on their growth curve at which further productivity improvements were unlikely. The introduction between the wars of mechanical picks and cutting machinery had made great productivity gains for coal mining, for example, but by the start of the war the possibilities of further mechanization were used up and the inherent tendency of ageing mines to become less productive asserted itself. The best productivity performance tended to be in the newer industries, where technological and organizational change was more easily brought about.29Such change naturally required enterprising and flexible managers: yet another area in which there was unfortunately a shortage of supply. It was all too easy for employers, faced with the difficulties brought by air-raids, government controls and shortages of skilled workers and raw materials, resignedly to retreat into inertia. Inefficient organization of the shop floor too often held back output and productivity. At the machine-tool manufacturer Herbert's of Coventry, for example, production blockages were allowed to persist well into 1941 before the management thought fit to investigate the reasons. Improvement resulted from the investigation, but since managers believed labour shortages were the real problem, and this was something they had no control over, they remained largely negative towards finding compensating efficiencies.3O Corelli Barnett, in a broad critique of the way one of the more successful industries was organized, set management's failings against a general muddle:The wartime British aircraft industry, again true of an older industrial tradition, had no clear operational doctrine as such, no coherent professional philosophy: its way of doing things was the cumulative outcome of countless ad hoc answers by "practical men" to the problems posed by rushed pre-war expansion and then by the urgent demands of war.31On the other hand, employers did have a genuine problem: major reorganization of production methods would invariably cause a stoppage in the work, and while in the longer term this might make a factory more efficient, the, short-term pressure was for volume production rather than output per worker. From the managers' point of view there were stoppages enough from changes in specifications and interruption to the flow of supplies for them readily to invite another. In any case, changes required co-operation from the workforce and this could not be taken for granted, especially in those industries where labour relations had been disputatious before the war.The generally unhappy story of labour-employer relations during the war clashes uncomfortably with the broad picture of a nation more or less united and committed to a common goal. This picture is not a piece of retrospective sentimentality: the nation did rise to the challenge of resisting fascist aggression, accepting the dangers and hardships this entailed. And yet, in the workplace little changed, it seemed. The sense of corporate solidarity within a wider, united community was rarely to be found. As Mass Observation remarked: "everything suggests extensive industrial inefficiency" and "psychological friction and disunity of outlook". 32 On the employers' side there was a general reluctance to alter a system in which workers were seen as units of production motivated only by the wages they got, and management were seen as the facilitators of company profits and shareholders' dividends. Largely impervious to Ministry of Labour suggestions for improving factory welfare and morale, most employers went no further than to conform to the minimum statutory requirements in these areas. To do more, it was thought, would impair profitability after the war. In any case, while the war lasted profits were easily made; government contracts on a "cost plus" basis removed much of the competition and all of the financial risks. There was no incentive, therefore, to promote efficiency through welfare, consultation, and the like. The cash nexus was delivering comfortable profits, so why tinker with it?In representing the workers' interests the trade unions were no less unwilling to modify traditional attitudes. Their whole approach was defensive. Every proposal for change in working practices was treated as a potential threat to hard-won rights, even when their source was no less a figure than that personification of workers' rights, Ernest Bevin. The rank and file, like their representatives, were acutely conscious that the employers were doing well: profits were healthy and there were plenty of rumours circulating about profiteering and avoidance of excess profits tax. Wartime wage rates were an improvement on pre-war for the most part, but war work had its strains, too, and it was easy enough to feel that capital was as exacting as ever in its claims upon the individual. As Mass Observation put it: "Cutting right across industrial morale today is the feeling of the worker that his or her work for the war effort is still for an employer who is making profits out of it".33 Depressingly for the war economy, then, industrial relations seemed petrified in the grievance-laden, dispute-ridden mould of the pre-war years, despite the assertions of patriotic commitment made by all involved, and despite the general context of national solidarity. Reporting on the situation among industries in the North of England, Mass Observation was devastatingly blunt:The most striking feature of the industrial situation here is the survival of strictly peacetime procedure in conflict between employers and men. . . One looked and listened in vain for any sign of unity binding all parties in the fight against Germany. From the men, one got the fight against management. From the management, one experienced hours of vituperation against the men. Both sides claimed to be concerned only with improving the situation to increase the strength of the struggle against Fascism, but nevertheless, the real war which is being fought here today is still pre-war, private and economic.34But in this war labour relations were not simply left to the bosses and unions to manage. From the start the Coalition Government recognized that there would be a labour shortage and that the bargaining power of civilian labour would increase. It followed that if war output was to be maximized and the war economy develop smoothly, labour and labour-relations must be subjected to State regulation.That this must proceed with the consent and co-operation of the trade unions went without saying. Churchill's invitation to Emest Bevin to take charge of the Ministry of Labour was as practical as it was symbolic. Bevin was the leading trade unionist of his time and there was no-one more likely than he to succeed in persuading organized labour to accept the constraints on traditional labour rights that all-out war would inevitably bring.One of Bevin's first actions was to set up a Joint Consultative Committee of representatives from unions and employers. At its first meeting he suggested the formation of national machinery for wages arbitration. The Committee approved the idea, and the National Arbitration Tribunal was accordingly established in July 1940 within the framework of the Conditions of Employment and National Arbitration Order (Statutory Rules and Orders No. 1305). This retained all the existing negotiating machinery for dealing with disputes over wages and conditions of employment, but added the National Tribunal for situations where agreement could not be reached, or where there were no adequate arrangements for reaching agreement. The order made strikes and lock-outs illegal, and the Tribunal's ruling, or that of any other existing arbitration body, was binding on both sides. In the four years that followed the order, although the effect was not dramatic, there was an increase in the use of arbitration in the settlement of disputes. But industrial disputes did not go away; after a significant fall in 1940 the number of strikes rose, and the number of days lost through strikes increased from 1,077,000 in 1941 to a peak of 3,696,000 in 1944. Absenteeism, too, was a persistent feature of the industrial scene, adding its own drag on productivity, especially in the coal, steel, shipbuilding and aircraft industries. It should be noted here that absenteeism was arguably more a product of the strain of working abnormally long hours than of indolence or lack of public spirit. The emotional toll on people living lives of extended danger, disruption of relationships and sheer physical fatigue makes nonsense of the attempt to draw a line between voluntary and involuntary absenteeism. What is astonishing is that however calculated, the rate did not increase in the last three years of the war, when the cumulative effect of multiple strains and anxieties might have been expected to show.This generally negative picture of wartime labour relations masks the fact that much of the conflict was concentrated in one industry: coal mining. It accounted for 46.6 per cent of the strikes, 55.7 per cent of the working days lost and 58.5 per cent of the workers involved. In coal, as elsewhere, the main cause was to do with pay. Miners' wages rose more quickly than average after the start of the war, but they continued to earn less than other workers in munitions and other heavy industries. The coal industry's reputation for poor industrial relations was carried into the war years and in 1942 serious unrest over pay and an alarming shortfall in coal output caused the government to set up a Ministry of Fuel and Power to regulate and supervise the industry. At the same time it appointed a board of investigation under Lord Greene with a brief to study and report on wage levels and procedures for settling wages and conditions in the coal industry. On the advice of the "Greene Committee" a substantial pay award was made to the miners and a national minimum wage established. New negotiating machinery was set up that brought the coal industry under the National Conciliation Scheme. This produced further improvements in miners' pay during the course of the war. Unrest among miners nevertheless persisted because the awards failed to take account of the claims of particular groups within the workforce, such as the piece-workers in the low-pay areas of South Wales, Scotland and the North East in January 1944, or the craftsmen in Scotland in March 1945.35 Right to the end of the war labouremployer relations in the coal industry continued to be blighted by mutual distrust and resentment, despite the efforts of the government, Bevin in particular, to manoeuvre the parties towards the cooperation required for the national effort. Some criticized Bevin for being unwilling to use his powers to enforce the compliance of unofficial strikers. True, Bevin was always loath to resort to compulsion if there was a chance of succeeding by other means. But even he had no time for the Trotskyist agitators he believed to be at work in the unrest of 1944 and 1945. He acted on his belief by introducing Defence Regulation 1AA, which made it a punishable offence to "instigate or incite" a stoppage of essential work. In the event the new regulation was never used. There undoubtedly were a tiny number of Trotskyists (members of the Revolutionary Communist Party) active in some of the strikes of the last 12 months of the war, but Bevin's common sense in the end prevailed, in his recognition that political motivation was absent from the actions of most strikers. It was perhaps his sense of frustration at being unable fully to master the problem of strikes that had led him to cast around for this scarcely credible way of accounting for them.One aspect of labour relations that many expected to generate conflict was the dilution of skilled labour, that is, the upgrading of semi-skilled workers to skilled work and the employment of more unskilled workers. The expectation was largely born of memories of the First World War, when the policy had indeed caused significant unrest. There had been friction not only between employers and workers but between workers and trade union leaders who had negotiated dilution terms with employers. This time, however, the apprehensions turned out to have been needless. Even before the war began, and without the prodding of government, the key actors, the Amalgamated Engineering Union and the Engineering and Allied Employers' National Federation had worked out an agreement on the terms under which there could be a temporary relaxation of the existing arrangements relating to skilled work. They agreed that semiskilled workers might be employed "where it can be shown that skilled men are not available and production is prejudiced". At the local level a joint committee representing both sides would by agreement implement the policy, keeping a register of the changes, so that pre-agreement practices could be restored as soon as skilled labour again became available. In September 1939 this agreement, which, unlike the First World War precedents, covered the whole engineering industry, was renewed for the duration of the war. Only the gentlest of urgings was needed from Bevin to get the parties to work out together an agreement to facilitate female participation in the dilution process. This was achieved in May 1940. While it is true that in practice it was difficult, especially in some industries such as shipbuilding, to overcome the prejudice of both employers and male workers towards the introduction of women in any numbers, the policy of dilution as a whole was successful: "who does what" disputes fell from 29.4 per cent of all disputes in 1938 to 13.3 per cent over the 1940-44 period.36 The role of the government, moreover, was unobtrusive and non-coercive. It was able to leave the negotiating to the representatives of those who would be most affected by the policy, limiting itself to giving it a helpful steer, as when, in February 1942, it put through the Pre-War Trade Practices Bill. This laid upon employers the obligation to restore, and retain for 18 months after the war, trade practices that had been relaxed during the war. It was this as much anything that speeded the progress of the policy of getting more women into industry. The shabbiness of an arrangement, however, that would first exploit then stand down women workers when their services were no longer needed, seemed to have occurred to neither the government nor the trade unions.Entirely in keeping with Bevin's preference for voluntarism combined with compulsion as the route to increased output and productivity, was the creation of joint production committees. These originated in initiatives made in engineering, coalmining and other industries. Some of the initiatives were the response of Communist shop stewards to the German invasion of the USSR and the subsequent offer made by Britain to send supplies to the beleaguered Russians, but the earliest (in the aircraft industry) pre-dated the war. They sought ways of preventing strikes and achieving higher output. Some employers were at first reluctant to respond, since a joint production committee would be sure to reduce the area of management's prerogative. But with government pressure on industry to become more efficient this attitude changed. Symbolically, the Engineering Employers' Federation approached the already converted leaders of the Amalgamated Engineering Union with a proposal to act upon the principle of consultation to increase production.37 And so, although they never became compulsory, joint production committees came into being in a majority of larger enterprises. In small and medium-sized firms the widespread refusal of management to participate in the scheme disadvantaged the workers in those enterprises, since these were where standards of safety and welfare were typically minimal. They were in place in all 40 Royal Ordnance factories by mid-1942 and there were nearly 4,500 in the engineering and allied industries by the end of 1943. Yard committees existed in nearly all the shipyards, joint site-committees on most of the larger government building sites, and there were 1,100 pit production committees in the coal industry. Of the last, the Minister of Fuel and Power conceded that only a quarter were working to any effect. And while a quantitative evaluation of their contribution to output and productivity is impossible, it can be said that their effect was at the very least positive. The actions that followed the decisions of joint production committees, whether concerned with workers' welfare or streamlining the process of production, always went with the grain of national policy and to the extent that they promoted mutual knowledge and understanding of the positions of managers and workers, they reduced industrial conflict and thereby losses to the war effort through stoppages.Less than perfect labour relations, it may be concluded, played a part in the relatively disappointing wartime record of industrial productivity. To accord to them the prime position, however, would be to underestimate the parts taken by the disruptions to the material resources for production, the deficiencies of management, and the general unreadiness for a productive surge that was the legacy of the Depression. It would ignore, moreover, what was probably the most important factor of all: the level of capital expenditure. The capital-to-labour ratio declined by 13.1 per cent during the war.38 In the USA, whose wartime productivity was more than twice that of Britain, there were massive capital inputs, notably in the form of specialpurpose machine-tools.39 Such capital investment that was made in Britain was geared to the government priority of expanding the capacity to produce munitions; the emphasis was on volume rather than on output per worker. In any case, the situation of government by coalition was a constraint: productivity touched issues of economic policy, upon which Labour and the Conservatives were not agreed. This fact limited the policy to that which both sides were willing to accept, thereby ruling out any attempt at a major restructuring of economic policy, however conducive that might have been to greater efficiency.Even while the war was on, the performance of the economy drew different conclusions from observers on the Left and Right. To the former, the planning and controls that the coalition introduced in the pursuit of efficiency implied that a logical next step was the nationalization of essential industries. The case seemed to be strengthened by the persistence of waste, inefficiency and profiteering. Public opinion, moreover, seemed generally to lean towards this viewpoint. Mass Observation found in 1942 that 28 per cent of "the upper and middle-class" thought that profits were "too high"; that most respondents in all classes thought efficiency would be improved if essential industries were taken into public control; and that 86 per cent favoured conscription of private assets and wealth. Predictably, on the Right the problems of war production pointed to very different solutions: the removal of the excess profits tax and bureaucratic regulation, an end to restrictive labour practices, curbs on wage increases and on the incremental expansion of social welfare. There was clearly no common ground between these two positions. Inevitably, therefore, the government followed an equidistant line, retaining the planning, the controls and the tax on profits, but leaving essential industries in private hands, and limiting its conscription of private assets and wealth. If it was nothing else, the war economy was an exercise in "the art of the possible".Commentators have been on the whole kinder to Britain's wartime leaders in evaluating the outcome of their financial policies. The weapons of taxation, forced savings, rationing and the stabilization of the cost of living brought rigorous austerity, but were the means by which financial disaster was averted. Receipts from direct taxation quadrupled and those from indirect taxation tripled; forced savings increased seven-fold; the cost of living index, after a sharp increase between 1939 and 1941, stabilized thereafter; real personal consumption was reduced to 79 per cent of the pre-war level. 40 The extent to which Britain battled to pay its way is reflected in the proportion of government expenditure borne out of current revenue. It was 37.6 per cent in 1940-41 but had actually increased to 54.2 per cent by 1944-5Y This still left nearly 46 per cent to be met by other means. Initial government hopes that increased expenditure could be met by an export drive soon proved illusory: export earnings began to decline at once and by 1943 were half the level of 1938. Meanwhile the cost of imports had risen by one-third. Nor was the forced savings policy equal to the need: the deficit was ?10 billion by the end of the war. In the first year the gap was managed by running down gold and hard currency reserves and selling overseas assets. Another recourse was the accumulation of external debt. Fortunately, much of this was held in the form of sterling balances, that is, the credits of Sterling Area countries held in blocked accounts in London, accumulating through exports to Britain. Of Britain's ?3.4 billion external liabilities in 1945 ?2.7 billion was accounted for in this way.These policies together would still have been insufficient to finance the protracted war in which Britain was engaged; it took the economic and financial collaboration of the United States to save the situation. In March 1941 the Lend-Lease Act allowed Britain to have what goods it needed without having to find the money at once. From this point Britain effectively had free access to the products of the United States' war economy. In total, Lend-Lease aid to the British Empire was ?5.5 billion, amounting to 17 per cent of its munitions needs. Britain also received aid from the Empire; Canada alone supplied three billion Canadian dollars-worth of Mutual Aid (written off as a gift at the end of the war). The significance of the American intervention is clear: Lend-Lease was the life-line desperately needed and sought in 1941. Without it Britain would have been unable to carry on the struggle.Notes1 S. Pollard, The development of the British economy, 2nd edn (London: Edward Arnold, 1969), p.157.2 Ibid., p.157.3 A. Calder, The people's war (London: Jonathan Cape, 1969), p.69.4 K. Middlemas, Britain in search of balance 1940-61, vol. 1 of Power, competition and the State (Stanford: Hoover Institution Press, 1986), p.18.5 Central statistical office, Fighting with figures (London: HMSO, 1995), p.170. 6 Announcement in The Times, 2 January 1941. 7 A major crisis in the coal industry Ied to government control under the new Ministry of Fuel and Power in June 1942.8 G. Alien, "The concentration of production policy", in Lessons of theBritish war economy, D. N. Chester (ed.) (Cambridge: CambridgeUniversity Press, 1951), pp.167-81.9 Pollard, Development of the British economy, pp.324-5.10 R. Stone, "The use and development of National Income and Expenditure estimates", in Chester, Lessons of the British war economy, pp.87-8.11 A. Milward, War, economy and society 1939-1945 (London: AlienLane, 1977), p.60.12 M. Harrison, "Resource mobilization for World War 11: the U.S.A., U.K.,U.S.S.R., and Germany, 1938-1945, The Economic History Review (May 1988), p.185.13 See especially C. Barnett, The audit of war (London: Macmillan, 1986). 14 Harrison, "Resource mobilization for World War 11", p.185.15 Ibid., p.186.16 CSO, Fighting with figures, p.38.17 Ibid., pp. 148-79.18 Ibid., pp.151, 170.19 Pollard, Development of the British economy, pp.314-17.20 Calder, The people's war, pA05.21 CSO, Fighting with figures, p.56.22 Milward, War, economy and society, p.230.23 See especially Barnett, Audit of war.24 Altogether, 23,383 men and women in equal numbers completed training in government training centres and emergency training establishments between July 1940 and September 1949 (excluding coal-mining training centres). CSO, Fighting with figures, p.63.25 D. Thorns, War, industry and society: the Midlands 1939-1945 (London: Routledge, 1989), p.1O8.26 Ibid., p.54.27 Ibid., p.52.28 Mass Observation, PeoPle in production (Harmondsworth: Penguin Books, 1942), p.59.29 Milward, War, economy and society, p.230.30 Thorns, War, industry and society, p.59.31 Bamett, Audit of war, p.153.32 Mass Observation, People in production, p.72.33 Ibid., p.256.34 Ibid., pp.24-5.35 C. Wrigley, A history of British industrial relations 1939-1979 (Chel tenham: Edward Elgar, 1996), pp.30-31.36 Ibid., p.28.37 Ibid., p.36.38 CSO, Fighting with figures, p.25.39 Milward, War, economy and society, p.187.40 CSO, Fighting with figures, p.221; Pollard, Development of the Britisheconomy, p.327.41 CSO, Fighting with figures, p.221. ................
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