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.

Robert Mackay

the military tide. When Churchill spoke of Britain standing between civilization and barbarism, the average citizen took this to mean that the British way of life was threatened by an alien force; and, for all its faults, that way of life was preferable to Nazism and worth fighting to retain. At its most basic this is what patriotic feeling consisted of – an attachment to familiar ways of doing things, rooted in a familiar place. In the autumn of 1941 Mass-Observation asked its observers to set down ‘What Britain Means to You’. The replies, though hardly

in Half the battle
Christine E. Hallett

practical support from the Demonts Chapter. One local newspaper article, which reported on her wartime work, offered a somewhat hyperbolic account of the patriotic feeling with which the Order was infused: ‘As broad as the empire upon which the sun never sets – as deep as the great oceans which girdle it – as high as the aspirations of the heroic sons who have laid down their lives in its defence stands the order of the Daughters of Empire.’85 Agnes Warner, unlike the other female members of her family, appears never to have intended to remain at home in Saint John. She

in Nurse Writers of the Great War
Open Access (free)
Robert Mackay

sentiments made it an immediately obvious way of releasing and enhancing patriotic feeling. For the men in charge, patriotic music implied mainly the ‘serious’ sort, initially, at least. In time they came to accept that for most listeners, popular songs like The White Cliffs of Dover and There’ll Always Be An England had more patriotic resonance than Parry’s Jerusalem or Elgar’s Pomp and Circumstance Marches; but in the early months they gave to the Music Department rather than to the Variety Department the brief of putting music to work for the morale of the nation. Since

in Half the battle