Second World War

Date start:
3 Sep 1939
Date end:
15 Aug 1945
Second World War

Britain declared war on Germany on 3 September 1939. Preparations for war had been in progress for some time and the government expected major air attacks on all Britain's cities, particularly London.

Mass evacuation from London began on the day that war was declared. During August and September 1939, about 600,000 children, mothers and expectant mothers were moved into the relative safety of Kent, Sussex, Wales, Devon and Cornwall. London was not attacked early in the war and many evacuees returned. However flurries of evacuation took place after the fall of France, at the beginning of the Blitz, and with the arrival of the V1 flying bombs in 1944.

Men and women were conscripted into civil as well as military occupations on the Home Front. Civilians served as Air Raid Wardens, in the volunteer emergency services and in other critical functions.

Women joined the workforce in jobs left vacant by enlisted men. They became firefighters, bus conductors, munitions workers and truck drivers: jobs previously dominated by men.

Food, clothing, petrol, coal and other items were rationed. Food ration books were introduced in September 1939, although the first food items were not rationed until January 1940. Clothing coupons were introduced in June 1941.

Londoners became inventive with their sources of food. Although beef, pork and lamb were rationed, rabbit, chicken, horse and sea bird were not. Spam, processed meat, was shipped from America to supplement Londoners' diets.

Alternate Names

  • World War Two

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