Life on the home front : a study of morale in Portsmouth, Southampton and Plymouth in wartime Britain, 1939-1945.
Degree GrantorUniversity of Canterbury
Degree NameMaster of Arts
This thesis is basically about morale in Portsmouth, Southampton and Plymouth during the Second World War and specifically concerned with civilian reactions to the experience of bombing. Accordingly I endeavour to examine the responses of the local authorities to successive attacks and their impact on the morale of civlians. Other topics which impinge on morale are also discussed, ranging from shortcomings in local authorities handling of post-blitz situations to the rigours of home front life, namely how people coped with such things as the blackout, austerity, rationing and news form the front line. Throughout this study attitudes and conditions in the three cities are compared and contrasted. A chronological format is adopted beginning with pre-war expectations of what a future war would be like, several chapters concentrating on the main period of bombing as it affected the cities under study (1940-1941) and chapters spanning 1942-1945 dealing mainly with the hardships of day to day life on the homefront. The V-Weapon campaign and the conclusion of the war are also contained in the chapter 1944-1945. Reconstruction is dealt with in a separate chapter as thoughts on this subject were voiced on many occasions throughout the duration of the war and the period of rebuilding the blitzed cities after the war forms a natural culmination to this study. This work is based largely on reports by Mass-Observation and the Ministry of Information Home Intelligence Division, of observations compiled during the war years in the cities under study. From these sources and others, insights into morale in the cities at specific times can be gleaned and differences between areas compared in the light of similar or differing experiences and circumstances. Thus fluctuations in morale can be detected, and it is therefore possible to determine which factors are important for the maintenance of good morale in the short and long-term, be they material or psychological. Hence, the advent of war and its repercussions on everyday life is viewed in relation to morale as it existed in Southampton, Portsmouth and Plymouth.