War experienced: 1941-45
in Half the battle

Defeats and setbacks gave way to victories and advances on all fronts and the steady progress to victory was established. Part of the terror of the Blitz had been the fear that it was merely the prelude to invasion. When the excitement of Russia's entry into the war began to withdraw, and the news of her defeats and retreats accumulated, optimism about an early end to the war or even about victory itself receded. The issue of wartime separation is addressed in this chapter. There is a patchwork of ‘stories’ each of which discloses the private anguish of one separation but which together represent the common lot. Mass-Observation's surveys confirm that most people grumbled about shortages and loss of choice. The regime of wartime tended to criminalize many who were strangers to the courts. The final trial of the war served to confirm the broader story of wartime civilian morale.

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Half the battle

Civilian morale in Britain during the Second World War

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