"A war of their own": Home front morale assessment and Scottish ideological need in Glasgow, 1939-1941

Crawford, Brodie J (2000) "A war of their own": Home front morale assessment and Scottish ideological need in Glasgow, 1939-1941. MPhil(R) thesis, University of Glasgow.

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Abstract

Perhaps the most definitive image of the Second World War experience in Great Britain is that of civilian population as military target- a society that heroically braced itself against the odds, and with an unprecedented sense of unity and sacrifice weathered the attacks of the German Luftwaffe to emerge victorious. The war of 1939-45 was unlike all others preceding it, and this was in large part due to the unavoidably pronounced role for civilians in victory (or defeat). Of course, the concept of a direct contribution by civilians to the war effort of their respective country was nothing new; in the last war, for example, civilians who worked in factories that supported forces on the continent were directly tied to the outcome of the conflict. In this war, however, the technology insured that factories and towns themselves would be targets of bombardment. In preparation for this unprecedented form of Home Front warfare, the British Government enacted emergency legislation and took complete control over virtually every aspect of British society, using centralised planning and policy to transform the country into an active war zone. Naturally, however, the complete control that the wartime Government had assumed over the country was one that did not end at the mere practical side of war mobilisation. The survival of the British nation on the Home Front required that people throughout Britain risk their lives in ARP (Air Raid Prevention) duties, work overtime in war jobs, and give up many of the amenities and conveniences of their lives for the sake of the war effort. This kind of unified effort and determination required an ideological basis, amply provided by the nationalist sense of unity and common purpose that the struggle against the Axis brought to the fore. At the outset of war in 1939, however, the Government could not be sure that this collective unity and confidence (or morale) could sustain the widespread panic and disillusion that the bombing of civilians could cause. The national identity and determination of the country may have provided a fundamental basis for action and mobilisation on the Home Front, but the new importance of public opinion and the well-being of Britain's people as the war continued demanded Whitehall's attention. To address this issue, the Ministry of Information was formed for the purpose of monitoring and guiding "collective morale", as well as coordinating war news and conveying centralised Government policy to the wartime media. Likewise, the new medium of radio broadcasting, though nominally under the authority of Whitehall, would become in the hands of the British Broadcasting Corporation a powerful independent force in the fortification of morale through propaganda. But unlike other more tangible factors in war, public morale was not easily measured or even defined, and thus lent itself easily to the biases of those who attempted to assess it. It is within this broad realm of the loosely defined, yet vital factors of ideology and morale on the British Home Front that this thesis is concerned. (Abstract shortened by ProQuest.).

Item Type: Thesis (MPhil(R))
Qualification Level: Masters
Additional Information: Adviser: S J Ball
Keywords: European history, Military history
Date of Award: 2000
Depositing User: Enlighten Team
Unique ID: glathesis:2000-72124
Copyright: Copyright of this thesis is held by the author.
Date Deposited: 17 May 2019 12:55
Last Modified: 17 May 2019 12:55
URI: http://theses.gla.ac.uk/id/eprint/72124

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