Social & Industrial History
Britain's Secret Army: The Munitions Women of World War II
With the outbreak of war in 1939, many factories were turned over to the war effort, while new ones were quickly built to manufacture munitions. Millions of women worked arduous shifts, day and night, dealing with dangerous materials, often after being forced to leave home and live in uncomfortable and unfamiliar surroundings. Based on extensive interviews, this book recounts the experiences of nine 'bomb girls', revealing the hardships that they endured and their often-unrecognized contribution to the Allied victory.
The Diaries of a Military Wife During the Second World War
While her husband was serving as a British Army captain, Evelyn Shillington travelled with him whenever she could. She kept a regular diary starting with their arrival home from Hong Kong in 1935, through the turbulence of the Second World War, to a stint in post-war Italy in 1946. As well as commenting on the political situation, the diaries include gossip, humour and even a meeting with Princess Elizabeth.
Around the Village Green
The Heart-Warming Memoir of a World War II Childhood
In this memoir, the author recalls growing up with her coal miner father, mother and siblings in a Derbyshire village and describes how the outbreak of war and the nearby PoW camp and American base changed life for everyone.
A Kiwi's World Tour to Yorkshire 1939–40
Gwynne Irene Peacock, 'Gwennie', set off from New Zealand in February 1939 on a world tour that took her to Egypt, Europe and, as war approached, every part of Britain. Her diary records the whole trip including the return via America and Pearl Harbor.
Greasepaint and Cordite
The Story of ENSA and Concert Party Entertainment During the Second World War
During the course of the Second World War, the Entertainments National Services Association put on countless productions for the troops across the world, offering everything from music hall turns to Laurence Olivier. The enormous number of shows meant that the talent was spread thinly and performances were often delivered in difficult circumstances and inhospitable climes. Drawing on interviews with surviving ENSA performers, this book tells the colourful story of this most unusual and complex theatrical enterprise.
Stars in Battledress
A Light-Hearted Look at Service Entertainment in the Second World War
Many of the stars of post-war British entertainment cut their teeth in Army entertainment; established artistes as part of ENSA and, braving the front lines, Stars in Battledress using talent drawn from the serving ranks. This book recounts the stories of such members as Charlie Chester and Spike Milligan as well as tales of the post-war Combined Service Entertainment in which Frankie Howerd and Stanley Baxter learned their trade.
We'll Meet Again
Britain at War
With advances in camera technology, photojournalists were able to record everyday life during the Second World War with much more flexibility than ever before and the home front provided them with unforgettable visual material. From bomb destruction and ration queues to evacuees and women working in heavy industry, this collection of 350 photographs from the Daily Mail archive contains many arresting images and portrays a remarkable sense of cheerfulness in the face of adversity.
Our Land at War
A Portrait of Rural Britain 1939–45
Duff Hart-Davis examines how, in farms and villages, forestry land and country estates, the 'old ways' of Britain's countryside were challenged by the demands of war. As well as the profound impact of the need to grow more food and the loss of workforce as young men enlisted, the book examines the effects of the new role of women, the Land Girls and Lumber Jills, the requisition of land and houses, and the arrival of evacuees, Americans and prisoners of war.
Going beyond the familiar stories of children in wartime, usually dominated by evacuation, Longden deals with children as active participants in the Second World War. He tells the stories of child soldiers who lied about their age to enlist, but also of the Royal Navy's 14-year-old boy buglers serving on battleships, teenagers in the Merchant Navy, Boy Scouts and Girl Guides helping victims of the bombing, and the children who stayed in the cities during the Blitz.
When the Children Came Home
Stories from Wartime Evacuees
On 1 September 1939 Operation Pied Piper began, evacuating one and a half million children, pregnant women and school teachers from Britain's industrial cities, beyond the reach of the Luftwaffe. It was a varied experience - children went to British foster families or abroad; some stayed weeks, others years; while some enjoyed it, others hated it; and homecoming was not always easy. Using interviews and memoirs, Julie Summers weaves together evacuees' stories to give a children's perspective on wartime Britain.
Dogs of Courage
When Britain's Pets Went to War 1939–45
From 1939, when people were advised that if they couldn't send their pets to the country in wartime, 'it really is kindest to have them destroyed', to the Dickin Medals awarded at the end of the war, Clare Campbell tells the story of the dogs' war effort, whether conscripted to serve on the battlefields as messengers or mine detectors, or as rescue dogs working in the rubble of bombed buildings, sniffing out survivors on the home front.
The Debs of Bletchley Park
and Other Stories
Bletchley Park may be famous for the exploits of Alan Turing and the team operating his first 'computer', but at the peak of its operations Station X employed as many as 12,000 people, two-thirds of whom were women. From language students to society debutantes and even a former ballerina, this book explores the extraordinary secret life of these women during the Second World War and the significant contribution they made to the Allied victory.
The Summer of '45
Stories and Voices from VE Day to VJ Day
The events of the months between the fall of Germany in May 1945 and the surrender of Japan in August would dictate the world order for generations. Combining archive material and original interviews with eyewitnesses, this people's history tells the story of civilians, soldiers, victors and vanquished across the globe during a fateful summer – from the VE celebrations in London and the continued fighting in the Pacific to the elation of VJ Day and the terrible aftermath of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
Voices from the Dark Years
The Truth About Occupied France 1940–1945
Active collaborators and resisters were equally small minorities of the French population during les années sombres – the dark years of the Second World War; most people simply did what they needed to to survive. Based on interviews and previously unpublished accounts, this book looks beyond the traditional narrative of a defiant nation to reveal stories of compliance and partnership with the new regime as well as resilience in the face of extreme hardship.
How Britain Kept Calm and Carried On
Real-Life Stories from the Home Front
The 'Keep Calm and Carry On' poster was never used during the Second World War; people in Britain had kept calm and carried on without being told. Anton Rippon first started collecting these first-hand accounts of life on the home front in 1978, when memories of the war were relatively fresh. Above all, their strange, sad or downright funny stories illustrate the indomitable spirit and humour of the British people during the war years.
The Debs of Bletchley Park
Bletchley Park may be famous for the exploits of Alan Turing and the team operating his first 'computer', but at the peak of its operations Station X employed as many as 12,000 people, two-thirds of whom were women. From language students to society debutantes and even a former ballerina, this book explores the extraordinary secret life of these women during the Second World War and the significant contribution they made to the Allied victory. Slightly off-mint.
Britain's Wartime Evacuees
The People, Places and Stories of the Evacuations Told Through the Accounts of Those Who Were There
The mass evacuations during the Second World War had a seismic impact on many hundreds of thousands of people – both those (mostly school-aged children) who were sent far away from their homes and families – and those who had to accommodate and care for them. This illustrated study is based on interviews with evacuees from across the United Kingdom, the Channel Islands and Gibraltar as well as contemporary newspaper coverage and official documents.
Children in the Second World War
Memories from the Home Front
Drawing on the archives of the Second World War Experience Centre, this collection presents the personal accounts of over 200 people who grew up during wartime. Their testimony reveals a childhood of extremes, from the excitement and terror of living under heavy bombardment to the culture shock and upheaval of evacuation. Arranged by subject, including Air-Raid Shelters, Schools and Entertainment, the recollections of those who survived offer a child’s-eye view of life on the Home Front.
Waiting for War
After the declaration of war in September 1939, Britain waited tensely for an invasion that never came. Drawing on unpublished letters, this narrative history presents the stories of ordinary people as the lights went out, theatres closed, food and petrol were rationed and thousands of women and children were evacuated. Against the backdrop of the invasion of Poland and the disastrous Norway campaign, it captures the uneasy mood of the ‘Phoney War’ that ended with the fall of France.