Describe the effects of the Blitz on every day life in Britain

The Blitz cause many problems across the country, not only in the bombed areas. Rationing and evacuation affected the whole country. Rationing of food helped to improve the diet of some people, as poorer people could now afford to buy better food and their general health improved. Evacuation affected the whole country, as the evacuees families had to cope with the temporary loss of a family member, and also the families where they were evacuated to, had to cope with one or two extra members of the household – anyone4 with space in their house had to take in an evacuee.

When air raid precautions such as blackouts were introduced at the outbreak of war, people took them very seriously as heavy fines were handed out if the rules were broken. Censorship was used to improve and build morale. This was done by censoring newspaper reports, photographs in newspapers and radio broadcasts. The role of women also changed greatly throughout the war – they took over men’s jobs in factories, volunteered in organisations such as the WVS (Women’s Voluntary Service). Rationing was implemented by the government to insure even distribution across the country and to show equal treatment of everyone.

In the leaflet ‘Your Food in War Time’, the government explains that “more than 20 million tonnes” of food “are brought into our ports from all parts of the world”. This says that the government were worried that the Nazis could starve the country, as it was a good way of attacking the country. It affected people as they were only allowed limited amounts of supplies such as food and kitchen utensils. There were ration books and everyone got their set amount of rations, some got more than others e. g. manual workers got more than office workers, and pregnant women got more than other normal women.

Some people went to extremes to get more food, like buying extra food and ration books at extortionate prices from the black market. Children were given Cod Liver Oil and orange juice as supplements. Rationing began in 1940 during the Phoney War and gradually got more extreme when the Blitz came about. It got so bad that people were even encouraged to keep allotments and grow their own vegetables to share with others.

This was named the ‘Dig For Victory’ campaign and there was much speculation on this campaign. It proved to be fairly successful to the people that followed instructions. There was also a rationing on soap and clothes. This was because many clothes factories were converted into munitions and aircraft factories to help the war effort. The people were advised to ‘make do and mend’, rather than buying new clothes, as the production of clothes was at a low. Coal was never officially rationed but it was in short supply and the government strictly controlled distribution.

It was actually a second wave of rationing which caused these problems, the first one was very confusing for the British citizens and they didn’t understand how it worked at first, but the second wave was even more confusing when the government introduced a ‘points scheme’. This point’s scheme measured each persons food allowance per day in points and no one was permitted to have more food than the government allocated for them. Evacuation was also another key problem that the citizens of Britain had to do. It affected the whole of the nation including the evacuees and the places they were evacuated to.

Some evacuees preferred the places they were sent to, to their homes. This was because they had been treated very poorly in their homes or if their families

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were poor, some of them had fleas and mites. On the other hand, some families were extremely cruel to their evacuees, as they did not want another child in their house. They were not expecting it and if any household had a spare room they were sent an evacuee, no questions asked. The amount of evacuees was astounding. In a space of 4 days at the beginning of September, there was roughly one and a half million evacuees, most of them being school children and mothers with babies.

There were also disabled and blind people evacuated. Pregnant mothers and teachers were evacuated as well as they were considered valuable. Many quiet towns and villages in the country were swamped with ‘down and out’ children from the city and the suburbs and their different attitudes on life. Many who weren’t evacuated feared their lives would be lost, so began ‘trekking’ out of the city at night to try and escape danger. The role of women changed dramatically during the war. They took on men’s jobs and organised many events and organisations.

They set up better efforts for the evacuation processes and created matches of evacuees and homes, so they would get on with each other. They also worked long, hard factory shifts and they did physical, manual labour, which was previously thought to be jobs that only men could do. The women made do with what they had and tried different ways of coping. One of their tasks was to make people take the rationing seriously and realise that all they had was all they were going to get and no one was an exception; everyone got exactly the same as the rest of the people in their league.

The women decided that the answer to this would be to make food seem more interesting and appealing. The women in the home were strongly advised to follow recipes that were distributed by the government. They had to learn how to cook using a low supply of gas, this meant that meals would take hours to cook and so many women prepared them a day in advance. The rationalisation caused food to be in low supply as well so leftovers had to be heated up the next day and eaten for dinner. Many thought they were doing the jobs of men better than the men did.

The women did not only do strenuous, tough jobs that they weren’t used to in the daytime, they also were made to volunteer to take on more jobs in the night time, as well keeping their families together. Many precautions and everyday ways of life had to be changed. These were things like; street lights. They had to be completely switched off, so did car headlights. This was to protect people from the German bombers, like blackout curtains were also. People were made to get Anderson shelters and create the shelter in their own back gardens.

If they did not comply there were stiff penalties. If they did not have their own garden, they were made to manage with the supposedly next best, which were Morrison shelters. These were arc-like shelters made of corrugated steal and supposed to stop flying debris. Obviously if a bomb landed directly on top of an Anderson or a Morrison shelter, there would be no chance of survival. The people had to bear these things in mind as well. Many became cynical about the shelters’ effectiveness, but nevertheless got on with it.

They were not very strong and provided little protection for people during the war, however, there was no other protection available. Air raid wardens were appointed and they gave the signal for everyone to make a mad dash for their air raid shelters. This was another thing that affected everyday life, as they had to stop absolutely everything they were doing at the time and get into their shelters as quickly as possible. There was a huge wave of fear each time the air raid sirens were sounded. People were strongly advised to stay off the streets to minimise the amount of casualties.

Entertainment facilities were out of bounds and cinemas, theatres and concert halls were closed. This caused a horrendous effect on those that ran the entertainment places. They were not allowed to make money off of them so many became bankrupt. Many things, if not complied with, were considered an offence. If someone wasn’t wearing a gas mask it was considered an offence. If you weren’t carrying an identity card, it was seen to be criminal and a penalty would be brought against you. If you did not have an Anderson or Morrison shelter, or any of the black out equipment (like curtains), you could be charged.

This affected peoples lives as they had to adapt to a new way of life and just the slightest thing they did wrong could cause themselves to be charged or even to cause casualties in their town. This is a prime example of showing how seriously the government dealt with people who didn’t really care. The government censored a lot of the information and pictures in the media showing the real impact of German destruction. They wouldn’t let information be broadcasted which they thought would lower the morale of the British public so they banned it.

They also wouldn’t let pictures of mass destruction or dead bodies be shown in the newspapers either. One example of censorship was a picture of a school playground in Catford, London destroyed, not allowed in the newspaper as it was said to have had children’s bodies on it. This would lower the morale of the British, and so was not allowed in any branches of media. All films, news broadcasts, articles, pictures, etc. were checked thoroughly by the government before being allowed to go in the limelight.

The reason censorship was so important was because the British people were eager to hear anything new in the war and if there was any sign of Britain losing the war, there would be a national panic and it would be complete havoc. For obvious reasons the government didn’t want this to happen, so they shielded the public from disturbing information. For people to know that an area was completely destroyed or badly hit, they would have to be living in that area or have relatives that would tell them about it. There would be no other way of them finding out.

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