Open Access (free)
Civilian morale in Britain during the Second World War
Author: Robert Mackay

How well did civilian morale stand up to the pressures of total war and what factors were important to it? This book rejects contentions that civilian morale fell a long way short of the favourable picture presented at the time and in hundreds of books and films ever since. While acknowledging that some negative attitudes and behaviour existed—panic and defeatism, ration-cheating and black-marketeering—it argues that these involved a very small minority of the population. In fact, most people behaved well, and this should be the real measure of civilian morale, rather than the failing of the few who behaved badly. The book shows that although before the war, the official prognosis was pessimistic, measures to bolster morale were taken nevertheless, in particular with regard to protection against air raids. An examination of indicative factors concludes that moral fluctuated but was in the main good, right to the end of the war. In examining this phenomenon, due credit is accorded to government policies for the maintenance of morale, but special emphasis is given to the ‘invisible chain’ of patriotic feeling that held the nation together during its time of trial.

Antonius C. G. M. Robben

Thousands of people died in Rotterdam during the Second World War in more than 300 German and Allied bombardments. Civil defence measures had been taken before the German invasion of the Netherlands in May 1940 and these efforts were intensified during the country’s occupation as Allied bombers attacked Rotterdam’s port, factories, dry docks and oil terminals. Residential neighbourhoods were also hit through imprecise targeting and by misfired flak grenades. Inadequate air raid shelters and people’s reluctance to enter them caused many casualties. The condition of the corpses and their post-mortem treatment was thus co-constituted by the relationship between the victims and their material circumstances. This article concludes that an understanding of the treatment of the dead after war, genocide and mass violence must pay systematic attention to the materiality of death because the condition, collection and handling of human remains is affected by the material means that impacted on the victims.

Human Remains and Violence: An Interdisciplinary Journal
Open Access (free)
Robert Mackay

diplomacy would in any case make it redundant, the governments of Baldwin and Chamberlain embarked on a programme of measures to make it possible to fight and win a people’s war. In the first place it was recognized that, even accepting that enemy bombers would ‘always get through’, it made sense to try to limit the damage they might do to popular morale. However puny they might seem, measures of physical protection were judged worth making. The concept of Air Raid Precautions (ARP) was not new: an ARP sub-committee was appointed in 1924 under the chairmanship of the

in Half the battle
Robert Mackay

2 War experienced: September 1939–May 1941 T HE HOLOCAUST did not happen. Although air raid sirens sounded in London within minutes of the expiry of Britain’s ultimatum to Germany, it proved a false alarm. And the falseness of the alarm persisted. For a full eight months, until the AngloFrench expedition to Norway, apart from isolated engagements at sea, both sides held their fire. No massed flights of German bombers appeared above Britain’s cities to batter the citizens into submission. The ‘Phoney War’, as it was called, was a big anti-climax, an absolute

in Half the battle
Open Access (free)
Robert Mackay

Civil Series of the official History of the Second World War, and published in 1950. Titmuss examined the strains of evacuation and air raids and concluded that pre-war fears of mass panic, mental breakdown and social disorder were wholly confounded; rather, the behaviour of the civilian population was consistent with mental resilience and a strong capacity to adjust to changed circumstances, even when these brought mortal danger, major disruption to living patterns and multiple daily stresses.8 In confining his observations on civilian morale to the effects of

in Half the battle
Maja Zehfuss

stated that the Bundeswehr would participate in a NATO operation. 71 In the period of transition to a new government in the autumn of the same year the continued willingness to do so was carefully established and articulated. 72 Rühe’s successor, Scharping, confirmed on the eve of the first air raid that German soldiers would be part of the operation from the start. 73 After the bombing had started, a SAT-1 television

in Mapping European security after Kosovo
Open Access (free)
Janet Wolff

Social Policy there. I knew him very slightly, but knew nothing then about his early career, and the great impact he had had, as a young man, on my father’s situation. Austerity baby Air Raid Precautions card, November 1943 By July 1940 about 27,000 people had been interned. Many enemy aliens were also deported to Canada and Australia. That month, The Arandora Star, a ship carrying 1,500 German and Italian – many category A – internees to Canada, was torpedoed by a Nazi U-boat; more than 650 of them lost their lives. Deportees, from all three categories, arrived in

in Austerity baby
Open Access (free)
Janet Wolff

degree. Manchester’s death toll over the two days stood at 376 with many hundreds injured. 30,000 houses had been damaged, many extensively, and 5,049 people made homeless by the raids were distributed around twenty-eight Rest Centres. In addition, 197 were killed in Salford and 106 in Stretford, with similar extensive damage to homes and other properties. Another heavy bombing raid occurred on 1 June 1941 in Manchester and Salford, when fourteen nurses at Salford Royal Infirmary were among those killed. A log of Manchester and District Air Raid Alerts for 1940

in Austerity baby
Open Access (free)
Robert Mackay

during the war. The actual experience was predictably stressful. Passengers had to expect much longer journey times than the schedule promised. Delays occurred when passenger trains were diverted into sidings to let more urgent military or munitions trains through, or when air raid alerts at night obliged drivers to dim the lighting and reduce speed to 30 mph. Confusion and inconvenience was caused, especially if the journey was unfamiliar or made after dark, by the absence of station names – removed in June 1940 as part of the steps taken to foil invaders. The trains

in Half the battle
Open Access (free)
Robert Mackay

to the enemy almost any information about this theatre might have given. Since the public was in any case scarcely aware of its existence, let alone its toll in lives and ships lost, this was not a problem for home front morale.15 The reporting of air raids was a different matter: a significant proportion of the population had – albeit in varying degrees – actual experience of them, so complete concealment was not possible. Security considerations arose here, too, and weighing the necessity of giving away chap4.p65 146 16/09/02, 09:25 PERSUADING THE PEOPLE 147

in Half the battle