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23 November 2011

War Time Britain

1941 The war in Europe continued to dominate world affairs, for most children, the war years were a time of anxiety, family separation and for some, it was a time of profound personal loss.
Gas Masks
Gas had been used a great deal in the First World War and many soldiers had died or been injured in gas attacks. Mustard gas was the most deadly of all the poisonous chemicals used during World War I. It was so powerful that only small amounts needed to be added to weapons like high explosive shells to have devastating effects. There was a fear that it would be used against ordinary people at home in Britain (civilians). By September 1939 some 38 million gas masks in cardboard boxes, had been given out, house to house, to protect against gas bombs.
In most countries women worked in war factories to make war materials. 75,00 women joined the Land Army in Britain to help grow more food.  In 1941 women between the age of 19-30 had to register for war work . Women who joined the forces were mostly secretaries, drivers, cooks and mechanics. Lots of them also joined the Women's Royal Voluntary Service (W.R.V.S.). They provided meals and clothing etc. for survivors and rescue workers. 
The war had much effect on fashion as clothes were in short supply and rationed. The government encouraged people to 'Make do and mend'. Older clothes were transformed into modern styles.
I know several of you are doing mid 20th century houses or projects.  Come and see my new dolls at the York Miniature Fair - Sunday 27th November 2011, see here for details.

'Operation Pied Piper'was a huge undertaking. In London alone there were 1,589 assembly points for children to gather at before they were moved on. Those children who were evacuated were given a stamped postcard to send from their billet address to inform their parents where they were.  ‘Operation Pied Piper’ planned to move 3.5 million children in three days. In the event, 1.9 million were actually evacuated, this was a remarkable achievement, some children stayed with their parents as evacuation was not compulsory, what a choice. Living here in Devon there are many families who took in evacuees, they still meet up from time to time, its very interesting listening to them.