Jump to content

- - - - -

The achievement of manpower mobilization, 1945

  • Please log in to reply
5 replies to this topic

#1 dbf


    Erst die Arbeit, dann das Vergnügen?

  • Super Moderators
  • 14,441 posts
  • LocationProvince of Moribund

Posted 03 February 2009 - 03:48 PM

An excerpt from the publication ‘What Britain Has Done 1939-1945‘, issued by The Ministry of Information in 1945



Great Britain’s population of effective working age (males aged 14-64 and females aged 15-59) is relatively limited. At 30th June, 1944, it totalled 31,930,000. Of this figure 22 million had been mobilized by the same date.
The remaining 10 million consisted mainly of housewives, billetees, evacuees and invalids, and of students and schoolchildren over fourteen, and invalids (including war invalids).

British manpower mobilization has accordingly been of the most stringent order. Of all the factors in war production manpower is particularly vital for Britain. It is also the most stable, and Britain has had to make the maximum effective use of her resources of manpower and good organization in order to make good destruction of plant, factories, ports, railways, etc., by enemy action, and offset difficulties in the import of raw materials, shortages, etc. Over and above this, millions of British men and women have been taken out of production for the armed and auxiliary services and for whole-time civil defence. Yet the total volume of production has been increased.


The magnitude of the task which the total mobilization of available manpower involved is shown by the fact that since the beginning of the war those responsible have had to deal with more than 30,000,000 registrations for national service of one kind or another.

Of the figure of 15,910,000 males aged 14-64, 14,896,000 (or 93.6 per cent) had been mobilized in June 1944.

Of these, 4½ million were in the services, 225,000 in whole-time Civil Defence, 3,210,000 in the munitions industries, 4,059,000 in other essential work and 2,900,000 in other full-time employment.

The total of 4½ million serving in the Armed Forces of the United Kingdom, compared with less than half a million at the beginning of the war, had been reached in spite of the casualties of five years of war. Including the number killed, missing, taken prisoner, or released on medical and other grounds, the total number of men who have served or are serving in the Armed Forces of the United Kingdom during this war is over 5½ million.

These men have been drawn mainly from the younger age groups. 57 per cent of all men between the ages of eighteen and forty have served or are still serving in the Armed Forces. The other men in these age groups have been retained in industry because of special skill, particularly in making munitions, or because they were unfit for service in the Armed Forces.

Those neither in the Services nor in whole-time Civil Defence, were giving additional service in their spare time - 1¾ million in the Home Guard, 1¼ million in part-time Civil Defence, and most of the remainder were performing forty-eight hours a month Fire Guard duties. These additional duties were obligatory for men who did less than sixty and women who did less than fifty-five hours a week in their employment.

Of the total of 16,020,000 women aged 14/59, 7,120,000 had been mobilized in June 1944.

Of these, 467,000 were in the Auxiliary Services, 56,000 in whole-time Civil Defence, 1,851,000 in the munitions industries, 1,644,000 in other essential work and 3,102,000 in other full-time employment. The remainder were mainly housewives.

Some 900,000 were doing part-time work in industry (but have been included in the figures on the basis of two being equivalent to one whole-time worker) and 350,000 were doing part-time Civil Defence work.

Many others were doing war work in a variety of ways as members of salvage parties, collectors for Savings Groups, making and distributing hospital supplies, comforts for the Forces, and the Merchant Navy, etc.

Great Britain in 1941 was the first country to conscript women for the uniformed Auxiliary Services.

Of women in the 18-40 age groups, 90 per cent of the single women are working and over 80 per cent of the married women and widows without children.

Of women in the 18-50 age groups, 750,000 married women and widows with children and 2,000,000 without children are in paid employment.
Of single women in the 55-60 age group, 100,000 are in paid employment, excluding those in private domestic service.

At least 1,000,000 women of all ages are rendering voluntary service.

Women have played a magnificent part in freeing men for the forces or heavy industry.

In 1943, 40 per cent of the employees in the aircraft industry were women as compared with 12 per cent in 1940. In the engineering and allied industries the corresponding figures are 35 per cent in 1943 and 16 per cent in 1940.

About half of all the workers in the chemical and explosives industry are women.

In the munitions industries, including shipbuilding and heavy engineering, one worker in every three is a woman.

In agriculture and horticulture the introduction of 117,000 women has freed nearly 100,000 men; while 160,000 women have replaced 184,000 men in the various transport services.

Between June 1939 and June 1944 there was a net addition of 1.345,000 women in the munitions industries, 792,000 women in the basic industries and 523,000 women in the Auxiliary Services and whole-time Civil Defence.

Nearly three in every four British boys and girls between the ages of fourteen and seventeen are doing work in vital industry.

In order to achieve this mobilization of manpower the British have had to make many sacrifices and changes in the home life so dear to them. 22½ million removals of civilians alone have been recorded.

8,528,000 men and women workers are covered by Essential Work Orders. These Orders restrain workers in certain scheduled essential industries from leaving their employment and employers from dismissing them, except for serious misconduct, without the permission of a National Service Officer.

The needs of the Services have been met partly by voluntary recruitment, but mainly by compulsory enlistment of men registered under National Service Acts.

The compulsory enlistment of women in the Auxiliary Services was introduced in December 1941.

Compulsory registration for employment was also introduced in 1941.

Casualties have made severe inroads into the manpower available for the prosecution of the war. The total casualties (Armed Forces, Merchant Seamen and Civilians) sustained by the United Kingdom up to the beginning of May 1945 amounted to close on 1 million.

Of this total 746,109 were suffered by the Armed Forces (2228,383 killed, 59,476 missing, 274,148 wounded and 184,103 prisoners of war). In spite of these losses the total strength of the Armed Forces increased each year since 1939.

During the same period 30,589 Merchant Seamen serving in British ships were killed by enemy action at sea and a further 12,993 were missing, wounded or interned by the enemy.

By the beginning of May 1945, the total of civilian casualties was 146,760. Of these 60,585 had been killed or died of injuries (including 25,392 women and 7,623 children) and 86,175 had been injured and detained in hospital. More than half (80,307) of the total civilian casualties occurred in the London region.

  • 1

#2 Bodston


    Little Willy

  • Members
  • 2,180 posts

Posted 03 February 2009 - 04:27 PM

I'm always fascinated by this sort of material. Some of those figures are mind boggling.
I myself have a copy of 'Labour in the Munitions Industries' by P. Inman (HMSO 1957) sat on my shelf that I really must make the time to read.
  • 0
My mother told me, I never should, play with the gypsies in the wood.

#3 dbf


    Erst die Arbeit, dann das Vergnügen?

  • Super Moderators
  • 14,441 posts
  • LocationProvince of Moribund

Posted 03 February 2009 - 05:51 PM

Tanks and Vehicles
Output of tanks from September 1939 to June 1944 was 25,116, of carrier and armoured cars 74,802 and of wheeled vehicles for the Services 919,111.

Guns, Ammunition and Other Supplies.
From September 1939 to June 1944 the following ground munitions were produced:

Field, medium and heavy artillery equipments 13,512
Heavy anti-aircraft equipments 6,294
Light anti-aircraft equipments 15,324
Machine guns and sub-machine guns 3,729,921
Rifles 2,001,949
Gun ammunition 161,100,000 rounds
20-mm ammunition 387,700,000 rounds
Small arms ammunition 8,285,000,000 rounds
Grenades 80,983,000
Lines of communication cables 3,009,200 miles
Telephones 486,200
Wireless stations 445,500
Reception sets 34,227

  • 0

#4 dbf


    Erst die Arbeit, dann das Vergnügen?

  • Super Moderators
  • 14,441 posts
  • LocationProvince of Moribund

Posted 03 February 2009 - 05:52 PM

I'm always fascinated by this sort of material. Some of those figures are mind boggling.
I myself have a copy of 'Labour in the Munitions Industries' by P. Inman (HMSO 1957) sat on my shelf that I really must make the time to read.

The recent thread started by ADH about how weak we are now, got me thinking ... as you said, the figures are mind-boggling, could we really achieve the same percentages today ... I have started to change my mind, and think not.

I have a reprint, not original, with an 8 pg intro by Richard Overy which sorts out the more 'patriotic' claims. Chapters include achievement of each arm of the Forces, incl MN & Civil Defences as well as economy, aid to Allies, War Production, Agriculture and Transport and Communication.
  • 0

#5 Drew5233


    Very Senior Member

  • Members
  • 27,140 posts
  • LocationLeeds, West Yorkshire

Posted 03 February 2009 - 08:02 PM

Interesting figures.

Ref. could we: We'll probably and hopefully never know Diane.

I'd like to think if we needed too we could. People will always pull together at times of need and adversity. Although nowhere near on the scale of WW2 I was humbled by what I saw people do during the floods that hit Yorkshire in 2007.

Keep the faith and hope we'll never need to find out :)

  • 0

#6 Steve G

Steve G

    Senior Member

  • Members
  • 652 posts

Posted 04 February 2009 - 10:49 AM

Some of those figures are mind boggling.

Ye can say that again! Quite incredible!
  • 0

0 user(s) are reading this topic

0 members, 0 guests, 0 anonymous users