Hitler knew that Britain depended on raw
materials which came from overseas. If he
cut this off, he would win. SO he sent his
U-boats - in 'Wolf Packs' - to destroy as much merchant shipping as they
This was a great danger; Churchill
said that the U-boat menace was the only thing that worried him during the
Britain fought back by developing
'convoys' to protect shipping, and by developing new technology to hunt
down and destroy U-boats. By the end of the war, Britain was
winning the Battle of the Atlantic.
One of the results of the U-boats was rationing.
were given coupons to get rationed
goods (although they might also buy them 'under the counter' on the 'Black market').
Many grew food on allotments in the
'Dig for Victory'
campaign and a government campaign ('Potato Pete' and
'Dr Carrot') encouraged people to use
food that was home-grown.
used as little cloth as possible, and many women went to clothing
One of the strange
effects of rationing was that the population in
general were HEALTHIER during the war, because rationing shared food more
Most of the burden of war on the home front fell on women
(e.g. evacuation upset them, they had more work to do at home because the
men were away fighting, coping with rationing and bombing raids, helping
with Civil Defence and the Women's Voluntary Service).
After 1941, women could also be
conscripted into war work - both into the armed services (
WRNS/ WAAF/ ATS) or into essential industries. It is
interesting that these
women were often NOT welcomed into industry by the men,
because they 'diluted' men's wages.
Battle of the
British codebreakers at
Bletchley Park were able to decode intercepted German messages (especially when Britain captured an Enigma code machine)
British developed HF/DF (‘huff-duff’), which let them work
U-boats’ positions from their radio
turning point was Convoy ONS–5 (1943). When the Nazi U-boats
attacked, they were detected and six were sunk.
30 Jan 1940:
national campaign to collect scrap metal, paper, and food
waste (for pig-swill)
3 Apr 1940:
Lord Woolton appointed Minister of Food
Key items put on ration were petrol,
butter, sugar, bacon and meat.
The Role of Women
1939: 25,000 women join the Women’s Land Army.
Women conscripted to the women’s armed forces
fight - they did jobs such as typist so that men could be sent to fight.
At first the government did
not conscript women with children to work away from home, but after 1943, this
remind yourself of scenes of life on the home front from Dad's Army – you can use its
details as 'for example, some...' facts in your answers.