what challenges did britain face in 1945

Read more. Parliamentary candidate Major Healey’s passionate speech suggested a new mood in the country. It’s a healthy job, and a war winner too!”. Nationalisation of the key industries. Frank Mees in Stockton-on-Tees recalled that: “Came tea time and everything stopped for tea, even celebrations. His new book, Dig for Victory, was an all-year guide to domestic food production with adverts for Clay’s Fertilizer, which apparently would ensure: “Vim and Vigour on the Vegetable Front.”, Others had to rely upon their ingenuity, resilience and willingness to adapt their tastes. Yet in Britain, it marked another august occasion: the state opening of parliament. Her morale was not irredeemably dented, however, and she resolved “just because I am frightened I must go”. Reginald Walsh remembers being lined up with 26 other evacuees in his school in Staffordshire and the teacher saying: “‘You’re all going back apart from the Walshes’ – that was me and my sister.” His father had jumped ship and the authorities could not find his mother, who had thought he would be better cared for in the countryside, without her. Timeline: the countdown to the atomic bombing of Hiroshima. In the 1990s, a peaceful end to the 'Troubles' was negotiated, but tension continues. Factories owned by the government were sold off, and soon practically no businesses remained in government hands. For many people, Churchill was too strongly identified with fighting the war while Labour was more widely associated with domestic policies. In contrast to the situation in Northern Ireland, Welsh and Scottish nationalism remained essentially non-violent, and in 1997 each gained a devolved assembly exercising a considerable amount of local control. But why? Many British films in 1945 used the war as a backdrop. Spending became a major expression of identity and indeed a significant activity in leisure time. Feeling threatened 'You wondered whether you'd go bush' From early in 1940, New Zealanders began to live in fear of attack or invasion, first by the Germans and later by the Japanese. At the end of April, news arrived that Mussolini had been shot, that the German armies in Italy had surrendered, and then, on the 30th of the month, that Adolf Hitler had committed suicide. In May 1945, there were millions of displaced persons(DPs) in Germany and Austria who had been brought to the Third Reich as forced laborers or imprisoned in concentration camps. Great Day paid tribute to Women’s Institutes’ war efforts and followed a village institute preparing for a visit from Mrs Roosevelt, wife of the American president, Franklin. Was the US justified in dropping atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki during the Second World War? The composition of the population has undergone a marked transformation, due primarily to advances in medicine. Over 3 million children, some accompanied by their mothers, had been evacuated to places of safety during the war. This rise was linked to a growth in consumerism that also owed something to an extension of borrowing to more of the population. Change from wartime to peacetime economy. Churchill, the Conservative leader of the wartime coalition government, dissolved parliament on 15 June, and then embarked on a poorly conceived election campaign, characterised by attacks on his former coalition colleagues in the Labour party. We sang we danced and we joined hands singing all the Songs we could think of. 1945 Labour Party Election Manifesto Let Us Face the Future: A Declaration of Labour Policy for the Consideration of the Nation Victory in War must be followed by a Prosperous Peace. In line with a general trend around the developed world, life expectancy has risen greatly for both men and women. On 27 March Ivy Millichamp of Orpington, south-east London became the last civilian to be killed in a V2 attack – and, by the end of the month, the all-too familiar wail of air-raid sirens would be heard over the capital no more. By Professor Jeremy Black Given its inability to defend Australia and New Zealand during the war, there were questions about how much Britain had to offer the Dominions in return. Britain after the war; Vast crowds gathered in London's Trafalgar Square to celebrate the victorious end of the First World War on 11 November 1918. It was a rare and marvellous treat to us after years of saving food in case…. Read more. A war was successfully fought with Argentina in 1982 when the latter attacked the Falkland Islands, a colony inhabited by British settlers since 1833. Swing bands enabled crowds, whether in the dance halls or work canteens in their lunch hour, to forget their troubles and enjoy themselves. It’s one of the great ironies of the home front in 1945 that austerity actually deepened  after VE Day, with the government reducing bacon and lard rations three weeks later, and introducing bread rations in 1946. The scale and speed of the conflict had been unprecedented: the war ended up killing at least 19 million non-combatant civilians in Europe. Demands for mobility (cars) and space (houses) have ensured the transfer of land from agriculture and natural landscape to roads and housing, with multiple consequences for the environment and for the human experience. Most, in turn, were denationalised again under the Conservatives between 1979 and 1997. At times, Britain itself appeared to be going the same way, as entry into the European Economic Community (EEC) - later European Union (EU) - in 1973 led to a marked erosion of national sovereignty and to a transfer of powers to Europe. Save over 50% on a gift subscription to their favourite history magazine. Alongside the apparent continuity in popular culture of works such as the James Bond films, the novels of Dick Francis and the radio soap 'The Archers', there were also important shifts, for example in popular music. It had become exceptionally overcrowded after the arrival of survivors of the death marches. From 1945 to 1990, some economic problems of Britain were never solved and remained. By May 1940 the Germans occupied Norway, the Netherlands, Belgium and France, and Britain faced the direct threat of invasion. Once again, there were fireworks, singing and dancing. I’ve rarely seen him so excited – or upset. The 1945 United Kingdom general election was a national election held on 5 July 1945, but polling in some constituencies was delayed by some days, and the counting of votes was delayed until 26 July to provide time for overseas votes to be brought to Britain. Some large-hearted resident had allowed his piano to be dragged out onto the pavement and before I knew where I was I was seated before it playing Annie Lurie on as many notes as it felt like sounding…”, Britons celebrated victory just as they had endured war – with their friends and family, but also by expressing their emotions in public places. BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. By the 1990s, only one in seven Britons was an active member of a Christian church, although more claimed to be believers. At the start of 1939, the British Army was a small volunteer professional army. By the 1990s, only one in seven Britons was an active member of a Christian church. With nothing to export, Britain had no way to pay for imports or even for food. The Conservatives tended to favour individual liberties and low taxation, while Labour preferred collectivist solutions and were therefore happier to advocate a major role for the state. At the national level, government was controlled by the Labour Party (1945 - 1951, 1964 - 1970, 1974 - 1979 and 1997 onwards) and its Conservative rival (1951 - 1964, 1970 - 1974, 1979 - 1997), with no coalition ministries. Six of the 20 members of Attlee's cabinet were union sponsored. The Labour party, meanwhile, was in high spirits at its Blackpool conference in early June. “They returned about dawn so we knew they were going much further.” On 13 and 14 February, such bombers headed for Dresden, killing more people in that one German town in 24 hours than had died in the whole of the London Blitz. Social and cultural change has also reflected the extent to which the population has become more individualistic and less deferential. Post-1945, Britain quickly relinquished its status as the world's largest imperial power, but it was the massive cultural and social changes at home that truly transformed British society. The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Social Impact of WWII in Britain During World War Two the government became involved in people’s lives. You can unsubscribe at any time. The following day, 15 August 1945, will go down in history as VJ (Victory over Japan) Day. Germany - Germany - Germany from 1871 to 1918: The German Empire was founded on January 18, 1871, in the aftermath of three successful wars by the North German state of Prussia. Nella Last, then on holiday in the Cumbrian village of Spark Bridge, recorded how a neighbour ‘Old Joe’ had brandished the Daily Mail and shouted: ‘“Look at this,’ – and it was the article about the atomic bombs. Life-size models of the nuclear Polaris A3 missile, 1968 We found ways, like using lard and using dripping and that kind of thing to make the butter or the margarine go further…”. With the führer dead, Britons huddled around their radios, wondering when victory would come. You have successfully linked your account! Jeremy Black is Professor of History at the University of Exeter. Naomi Mitchinson recorded in her diary on 5 May: “Again not V Day, dull and cold.” On the 7th she wrote: “Everyone waiting for the announcement that the war had ended and in the evening the newsreader announced, tomorrow would be VE [Victory in Europe] Day and Churchill would speak at 3pm.”, While some towns and villages had carefully laid plans to celebrate the end of hostilities, for others VE day was a more impromptu affair. Some 60,000 prisoners, most in critical condition because of a typhus epidemic, were found alive. And, as one person recalled, such creativity extended to the weekly supply of meat: “My mother used to get funny cuts of meat… we didn’t so much go in for the whale meat, but we did eat some rather strange meat, notably it was rabbit, and you could get that in the butchers without compromising your weekly meat ration.”. If this leaves you a little spare time, remember the job that’s still as important as ever – growing your own foodstuffs in garden and allotment. 2014: How did the Jarrow March (1936) illustrate the social and economic problems facing Britain during the inter-war period? Others had no choice – the authorities were unable to trace the families of more than 5,000 children. Postwar planning had been much discussed across a wide range of groups in the country and the armed forces since the publication of the Beveridge Report (1942), which outlined plans for a new national insurance scheme and the foundations of the postwar state. ; 19 April – Geoffrey Fisher enthroned as Archbishop of Canterbury. The most populous of Britain's remaining colonies, Hong Kong, was only handed over to China in 1997. On 8 May 1945 millions of people across the world celebrated Allied victory in Europe. Labour achieved a spectacular recovery in the general election of 1945, when it won 393 seats and a comfortable 146-seat overall majority in the House of Commons.Most commentators have attributed this victory to the electorate’s overwhelming desire for social reform and its determination to avoid a return to the interwar era of economic depression and unemployment. I remember thinking I must still be asleep and thought if I shouted I would wake myself up, so I did. 15 April – British troops liberate the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp; Richard Dimbleby reports on it for the BBC. In January 1945 an advert appeared in a number of newspapers, which read: “Some of the sterner war-time duties are relaxing – Home guard, Fire Guard, Civil Defense. “We got a real shock when we heard our Conservative member had been beaten by 12,000 – we simply could not believe it,” said Nella Last of the Women’s Voluntary Service Centre in Barrow-on-Furness. The nearly 2 million American troops stationed in Britain prior to D-Day had popularised energetic and athletic dances such as the jitterbug. Finally, on 14 August, President Harry Truman announced that Tokyo had surrendered and that, for Britons, the long, tortuous journey to victory was finally at an end. The melodrama Love Story was a romance between a dying concert pianist and an RAF pilot going blind. Though an army of 130,000 men had repaired 800,000 London homes by the end of March, many families were still living in temporary and inadequate accommodation or huts. Britain had millions of men and women in uniform in 1945, scattered over Europe, the far east, and elsewhere. Naomi Mitchinson noted in her diary in January 1945 that she was “getting increasingly frightened of going to London, which is silly”. As one woman recalled: “We didn’t do anything else except listen to the wireless and knitting.” After D-Day the audience tuned-in for news of the Allied armies’ progress in Europe. He said: ‘Read it – why, this will change all t’world. Britain became an active member of international organisations, not least the United Nations, of which it was a founder member and held a permanent seat on the Security Council. The Liverpool Sound, the Swinging Sixties, and the London of Carnaby Street created an image far removed from that of 1956 when, in a last major flourish of imperial power, Britain had unsuccessfully sought to intimidate Egypt in the Suez Crisis. Thanks! Those who lived near aerodromes in the Midlands saw American, Canadian and British bombers continuing their war work. British forces liberated concentration camps in northern Germany, including Neuengamme and Bergen-Belsen. Page 4 – Challenges. On 16 January 1945 The Gloucestershire Citizen announced “The commencement of the Jitterbug Contest at ‘Dancing at the Baths Tonight’,” and that “Cpt Thomas of the US army will present One Pound to the winning couple in addition to the Prize.”. In 1945, Britain still had the largest empire in the world. Furthermore, large-scale immigration, particularly from the West Indies and South Asia, but also from other areas such as Eastern Europe, has made the population ethnically far more diverse, with important cultural consequences. Two days later Frances Partridge, a pacifist, wrote in her diary: “I feel happier and more conscious of peace than ever I expected. Manufacturing decline was matched by the rise in the service sector, resulting in a major change for many in the experience of work. This was seen in politics with, for example, the lowering of the voting age to 18; in the economy, with the rise of the youth consumer; and in culture, with marked changes in popular music. This world-changing event elicited the entire gamut of responses from Britons: some were awed, some frightened; some felt it was justified, others were appalled. Once the bombing was over, many gleefully returned home, leaving only 55,000 evacuees to travel under the official systems via coach and train. Britain since the Seventies by Jeremy Black (Reaktion Books, 2004), British Economic Development since 1945 by Alan Booth (Manchester University Press, 1995), Religion in Britain Since 1945: Believing Without Belonging by Grace Davie (Blackwell Publishers, 1994), British Society Since 1945: The Penguin Social History of Britain by Arthur Marwick (Penguin Books Ltd, 2003), The European Question and the National Interest by Jeremy Black (Social Affairs Unit, 2006). Joyce Dennys’ diary of her life in a Devonshire village described the events that unfurled as the evening progressed: “In the street where I have spent so many unhappy shopping hours, a ‘Proper ole Caper’ as we say, was indeed in progress, and conveniently adjacent to the pub. Life-size models of the nuclear Polaris A3 missile, 1968. But for most believers, formal expressions of faith became less important. British and US military authorities housed most DPs in DP Assembly Centers, separating them according to nationality to facilitate repatriation and segregatin… Mr Middleton, whose reputation as a radio and TV gardener had been established before the war, urged the nation to “Dig for dear life” and to force rhubarb, plant potatoes and sow peas. More than 10,000 of them died from the effects of malnutrition or disease within a few weeks of liberation. The Beveridge Report identified five major social problems which had to be tackled. Ee I wish I were 30 years younger and could see it aw.’” Nella’s diary, however, notes that she “felt sick”. One of the key challenges facing the UK in 1945 was the economic position of the country.  ©. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so. Victory may have been within touching distance but there was no sense of things winding down – as the 150,000 men who entered the armed forces in the first half of 1945 would have attested. But what sort of Britain would emerge from the rubble? The Labour and Conservative parties shared major overlaps in policy. After the Second World War, the disintegration of Britain's empire transformed global politics. You're now subscribed to our newsletter. And so an ancient custom became something of a victory parade, as the king and queen drove down the Mall in an open carriage to the acclaim of the nation. Severe food shortages, caused by naval blockades, had hardly lightened the mood – and had transformed home-grown produce from something that was merely desirable to an absolute necessity. You will shortly receive a receipt for your purchase via email. “The upper classes,” he announced “in every country are selfish, depraved, dissolute and decadent.” Polling day was on 5 July but the results had to wait for postal votes from soldiers serving abroad to be counted. “Someone wondered if we would get the road across Morecambe Bay now, as Labour ‘doesn’t care about spending money or consider whether it is practical’.” Meanwhile, Naomi Mitchinson remarked that she was “afraid this isn’t exactly socialism in our time”. Thank you for subscribing to HistoryExtra, you now have unlimited access. Nationalisation was the Labour party’s idea of putting the control of the main industries in the hands of the people, instead of a small group or shareholders. Well, above all, the population was war-weary. Please enter your number below. This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. By entering your details, you are agreeing to HistoryExtra terms and conditions and privacy policy. why so many soldiers survived the trenches. Last updated 2011-03-03. Despite the best efforts of British intelligence to confuse German navigation, London remained a target for the V2 rockets, as the following recollection from B Scarlett, whose father and five siblings were killed on 16 February, makes tragically clear. This contributed to a sense of national malaise in the 1970s, which also owed much to very high inflation and to a sense that the country had become ungovernable, as strikes by coal miners led to the failure of government policies on wages. The 1960s destroyed a cultural continuity that had lasted since the Victorian period. However, the spirit of the labor movements did not blossom in Britain as it did elsewhere, and the socialist goal of nationalization of industry was put on hold. The tenacity of the civilian population was also severely tested by the unmanned V1 and V2 rockets, which had begun falling on the south of England in June 1944. If you subscribe to BBC History Magazine Print or Digital Editions then you can unlock 10 years’ worth of archived history material fully searchable by Topic, Location, Period and Person. The legacy of empire brought nearly half a million blacks and Asians to Britain in the fifties in search of a better life. The devastation that the Luftwaffe had wrought would, however, take a long time to repair. The size of the Labour majority in the 1945 election (146 seats) gave it a mandate for the first time to carry out its election manifesto 'Let Us Face the Future'. This was particularly evident in Labour 's support for the nationalisation of major parts of the economy during their pre-1979 governments. As discussions of how to build the people’s peace became more heated, the foundations were laid to shake up the political landscape. This page has been archived and is no longer updated. After VE Day the process of reuniting families and communities began in earnest and Sikhs Britain. Become more individualistic and less deferential Germany seemed certain Conservatives between 1979 and 1997 food supplies, the! Direct threat of invasion, Canadian and British bombers continuing their war work the war as backdrop... Was the us justified in dropping atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki during the Second war. Even for food change all t ’ World changes were linked to shifts in religious practice expensive liability Clement! Fighting the war what challenges did britain face in 1945 1920-1945 problems of Britain 's remaining colonies, Kong... 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