Morale during the Blitz in WW2

Discussion in 'United Kingdom' started by AmyVS7, Aug 13, 2011.

  1. AmyVS7

    AmyVS7 Junior Member

    Hello, i'm new to this site but i am in need of your assistance.

    I am a history degree student and i'm about to start my third year of university, and i'm writing my dissertation, the title being 'The Impact of the Blitz on social morale in Britain during the Second World War'.
    I have the greatest respect for all our war veterans, our armed forces past and present, and for any of you who lived through either of the two world wars. You are all heroes to me! :poppy: <3

    I have done some research already but i was wondering if any of you could help direct me to some good information that i could use, whether that be the best books on the subject, first hand accounts, interviews, newspaper articles, photographs, academic papers, video footage, television interviews/documentaries, or good websites on the subject. Anything at all that can be used for sources, i would be eternally grateful to anyone who could help me.

    Hopefully i have created this new thread in the right place, correct me if i haven't.

    I hope to hear from you soon. Thank-you for taking the time to read this.

    Kindest regards, Amy x
     
  2. Ron Goldstein

    Ron Goldstein WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran

  3. Gage

    Gage The Battle of Barking Creek MOD

    Hi Amy and welcome.
    Also try of Miss Gardiner.
    [​IMG]
     
  4. Wills

    Wills Very Senior Member

  5. PsyWar.Org

    PsyWar.Org Archive monkey

    Amy, the Mass Observation archives at the University of Sussex might be useful for your research. See here: Mass Observation Archive | About Mass Observation

    Also worth checking through the Ministry of Information records at the National Archives (INF series), I seem to recall there are some files containing letters from the public and reports on morale - although I could be wrong on this.

    Lee
     
  6. PsyWar.Org

    PsyWar.Org Archive monkey

    Just to add a personal anecdote, I was brought up on my grandfather's humorous war stories. Whenever he was droning on too much - of course I was lapping it up - my nan would interrupt and complain that he had it too good, it was those still at home who were really suffering. That usually shut him up.

    Stupidly I never thought to ask my nan about her war. My only memories of her talking about it was that she refused to sleep in air raid shelters and preferred to stay in her bed. She usually slept through most of the bombing (she was living in west London). The thing she hated most was the night shift at the local munitions factory. She really had difficulty coping with the shift pattern. Her fondest memory of the war was the comradeship of the people, everyone pulling together to help each other out.
     
  7. Ednamay

    Ednamay wanderer

    my personal recollection of the war is of everything static side by side with total upheaval.
    I think people tried to keep life as normal as possible, building in new experiences like nightly trips to the shelter, - some to sleep there all night, others to dash there when the siren sounded - and some people who just moved under the bed, and stayed at home as company for the pets, who got disturbed by all the noise and kerfuffle.
    I was evacuated twice, when my mother had nervous breakdowns and we went together; there was the experience of being totally out of kilter, children in the village schools who thought I 'talked funny', and had no concept of the noise and upheaval of a bombing raid. My mother did not believe in child evacuation, separating children from their parents and splitting families, so I was kept with her, but she was worried about my father and my brother, both away in the services.
    Later in the war, when we returned to our home area, things stabilised. None of the local children were evacuated so the girls collected in our living room, listening to the radio, knitting for the forces, - and styling each other's hair!
    People shared information about what was on sale where; sometimes is was possible to get something for your neighbour - but only if you had her ration book. People shared - when I had jaundice, our neighbour let me have her bananas (her tinies had never seen or tasted them and disliked them) which was the only thing I could swallow.
    Yes, there was real community spirit because we had a common aim and tried to be good neighbours.
    Edna
     
    Gage likes this.
  8. tmac

    tmac Senior Member Patron

    A book called The Blitz, by Constantine FitzGibbon, may be worth a look. It was published in 1957 as the first 'uncensored' account of the air raids on London.
     
  9. sapper

    sapper WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran

    Hi and welcome. I lived through those times in the Southampton Blitz, When we were at our lowest ebb. The moral of the land was quite wonderful.... Its has never reached the same level since those dark and dangerous days.

    The long hours in the Home Guard, the long hours of work, all ensuring that we would repel any invasion, and that in the end we would win...Never in Doubt! How foolish that was....

    All over Southampton, the production of Fighter aircraft was carried on in widely spread workshops, and they never stopped... Night or Day.
    Sapper
     
  10. Swiper

    Swiper Resident Sospan

    Just noticed your in South Wales, not Swansea Uni by any chance?

    The bombing of Belfast blew Northern Ireland out if its complacent 'holiday camp' attitude that had endured, and the Beeb did a good documentary on this recently.

    Swansea's bombing has actually been very poorly covered to my mind with most programmes spilling forth total nonsense on the raid.

    Ultimately from many veterans I spoke to the bombing ultimately gave them a reason to hate the Germans for what they did back home, making them fight harder when they came against them in combat.
     
  11. dbf

    dbf Moderatrix MOD

    Poor choice of words there Swiper. The leaders were complacent. The people were just as concerned and worried as any others living in an industrial town. My grandfather a WW1 veteran re-enlisted Oct 39 was RA (AA) in Belfast, my gran became a nursing auxiliary, my father was in the 'Home Guard' with his 15 yr old mates by '40, and my husband's g. aunt was ATS when killed in the blitz; a shoe-box sized coffin was all that was required for her remains. I don't think any of them believed they were in a holiday camp either.
     
  12. Swiper

    Swiper Resident Sospan

    Holiday camp was a term mentioned several times in 53 Div's vets memories compared to London, noticing the difference between London and N. Ireland. From my research for the majority I don't think it was until June 1940 when they really realised they were in the war. So the perception of outsiders does count I think.
     
  13. dbf

    dbf Moderatrix MOD

    My family wasn't a-typical. I am saying that the people in Belfast weren't complacent, many knew only too well what war meant. They did however rely on their leaders to know what was best.

    The perception of outsiders training in NI hasn't got much to do with the morale and concerns of inhabitants in a port city with shipyards and aircraft factories. My point being surely most places designated for training would've failed a London litmus test.
     
  14. Swiper

    Swiper Resident Sospan

    I just managed to delete my responce by clicking the wrong button...

    Even in rural Wales, they ordered 53 Div to construct public shelters in September-November 1940, places with no strategic value at all. After aerial power/range was well demonstrated by the bombing on Bangor in Sept 1940, that clearly showed that NI was vulnerable to aerial bombing. So I am surprised that similar did not happen after this.

    Troops were stationed all over NI, in a mix of training and 'an operational war against the IRA who hardly ever operated.' Along with constructing defences against an invasion, often stationed in larger towns, without the full establishment by far of equipment.

    I feel that NI was far, far behind the ball game and that as troops were stationed in major towns across Ireland doing a huge mix of duties that their perception would be valid. Indeed 4 Welch was in Belfast helping rescue civilians and for a while the Div HQ was located there.
     
  15. dbf

    dbf Moderatrix MOD

    I give up. I found your original statement insensitive and ill-directed to say the least. I am not arguing about the policies, strategies or even about perceptions by others. The people were not in a holiday camp but they were poorly led. End of.
     
  16. jeffbubble

    jeffbubble Senior Member

    A good research book! THE PEOPLES WAR by Angus Calder. (Britain 1939-45)
     
  17. DoctorD

    DoctorD WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran

    Hi Amy, welcome to the Forum.
    As one who served in ARP full time, and Home Guard, through the London Blitz there are many stories that have been told, most of which are long forgotten. However, the BBC constructed a data archive some years ago of ww2, including blitz experiences, that may be worth a look, at BBC - WW2 People's War
    Best of luck with your thesis.
     
  18. Bradlad

    Bradlad Senior Member

    I was going to do a similar dissertation but was informed that as it is a fairly " over subscribed " subject with masses of information and repetition it would likely result in a low result, with a possibility of a " needs further independent work " verdict.

    I ended up doing it on the impact of the blitz on social welfare and community dilution, this gained me the verdict I wanted at that time.

    I would suggest having a chat with your senior course adviser and see what they think, but it is a lot of work to find that the panel rub their foreheads in a ' oh god, not another.. ' way.

    I found local libraries are incredibly helpful with everything from material to local contacts for human experience.

    Good luck. :)
     
  19. Len Trim

    Len Trim Senior Member

    Hi,
    as Jeffbubble has already indicated have a look at Angus Calder's work for a less than rosy view of morale. The People's War and The Myth of the Blitz are two standard revisionist works. He talks of rich old dears hiding out in seaside hotels for the duration of the war (also referred to by J.B.Priestley who when doing his 'Postscripts' for the BBC sometimes had difficulty getting a room while commuting from the North to London and back) and rich people sending children abroad, hints at levels of abuse of child evacuees and that the generally accepted idea of middle class country dwellers taking in East End children rarely happened. He argues that most working class children were taken in by working class families etc. Also look at strike levels and union activity. Not a lot of solidarity there especially before Russia was invaded. Check out crime levels during blackouts etc. etc. You may not agree with his overall thesis but he does give a point of view you would have to consider in a balanced essay or dissertation.

    Len (who teaches this at Advanced Higher for a living)
     
  20. AmyVS7

    AmyVS7 Junior Member

    Wow, thank-you all so much for your responses! I didn't expect so many, i will definitely look into the suggestions! Thank-you again!

    Just noticed your in South Wales, not Swansea Uni by any chance?

    Glamorgan Uni :)

    I was going to do a similar dissertation but was informed that as it is a fairly " over subscribed " subject with masses of information and repetition it would likely result in a low result, with a possibility of a " needs further independent work " verdict.

    I ended up doing it on the impact of the blitz on social welfare and community dilution, this gained me the verdict I wanted at that time.

    I would suggest having a chat with your senior course adviser and see what they think, but it is a lot of work to find that the panel rub their foreheads in a ' oh god, not another.. ' way.


    I'm sorry to hear you had trouble with yours. I discussed a few topic ideas to do with WW2 with my dissertation supervisor and we narrowed it down to a question which she said was feasible so i'm happy.

    Thank-you all once again for your help :)

    xx
     

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