Revision Diary

U-boats, rationing and

the role of women


Battle of the Atlantic and the effects of submarine warfare;

       Rationing; the role of women.




1.  Britain depended on supply by sea for most of her raw materials - if Hitler could cut this off, he would win.   Churchill said that the U-boat menace was the only thing that worried him during the war.

2.  Protecting the convoys and the merchant seamen - advances in technology/ importance of intelligence.

3.  VITAL importance of the 'home front' and women in this 'total war'.

4.  The population in general were HEALTHIER during the war, because rationing shared food more equally - nb especially the feeling of 'pulling together'.

5.  Note that women were often NOT welcomed into industry by the men, because they 'diluted' men's wages.


6.  How valid are fictionalised accounts such as Sink the Bismark! and U571.


Read the e-book pages on the Battle of the Atlantic, Rationing and Women in the War.





Battle of the Atlantic

1.  An early disaster was convoy HX–84 (1940) – HMS Jervis Bay and five merchant ships sunk.  

2.  August 1940: US gave Britain 50 destroyers in exchange for Atlantic naval bases.

3.  Many things helped the Allies to stop the U-boats, but key were the codebreakers at Bletchley Park (especially when Britain captured an Enigma code machine)

4.  The turning point was Convoy ONS–5 (1943).   Although 13 merchant ships were lost, the U-Boats were detected by HF-DF, and six sunk.  

5.  Nazi counter-measures - anti-aircraft guns, Snorkel (allowed U-Boats to refresh air without surfacing) and ‘Bottoming’ - did not work.


Rationing and the effects of submarine warfare

1.  22 Sept 1939: petrol rationed

2.  30 Jan 1940: national campaign to collect scrap metal, paper, and food waste (for pig-swill)

3.  3 Apr 1940: Lord Woolton appointed Minister of Food

4.  1940: butter, sugar and bacon, then meat rationed

5.  TEN FACTS OF RATIONING LIFE: Coupons/ Black market/ Dig for Victory/ Potato Pete and Dr Carrot/ SPAM/ Dried eggs/ Women’s Voluntary Service collections/ Utility clothing and furniture/ swapshops/ 6” water in the bath.


The role of women

1.  Sept 1939: 25,000 women join the Women’s Land Army.

2.  After Dec 1941, women aged 20–30 could be conscripted to the women’s armed forces (though not to fight)


4.  The number of women employed rose from 5 to 8 million/ by 1943, nine out of every ten single women were doing war work.

5.  At first the government did not conscript married women, and women with children under 14 could not be sent away from home.   After 1943, this had to end.  





Revision Focus

This is a Paper 1- World War Two  topic, so think about how you will USE the information to answer sourcework questions.  

You will need:

1.  A GENERAL UNDERSTANDING of 'what was going on', so you can make intelligent comments on the purpose of the sources.

2.  Some FACTUAL KNOWLEDGE so you can assess the factual accuracy of the sources.


This paper is ALL sourcework questions, so make sure you know how to do them.


NOTE PARTICULARLY that there is no choice of questions on this topic - so...





More key facts on the Revision Sheet.