The Test of War: Inside Britain, 1939-45

The Test of War: Inside Britain, 1939-45

The Test of War: Inside Britain, 1939-45

The Test of War: Inside Britain, 1939-45

Excerpt

For all participant states in the Second World War the domestic experience of the war reflected the way in which the conflict widened and intensified. Two separate wars, in Poland and China, spread and ultimately joined in a war embracing the greater part of the globe. The corresponding escalation in the activity of armed forces brought about the mobilization of all possible human and material resources. While it lasted, the war dominated the life of the nations that were involved and most of those that were not. Since Britain was in at both the start and the finish, her people experienced the impact of total war in full measure. The experience was a test of the most comprehensive kind: of the institutions, of the resources, of the very cohesion of the nation. How the nation responded to the test of war is the subject of this book.

Since any book about the Second World War is by definition potentially global in reach, the sub-title of this book is intended to indicate its confinement to the home front in Britain. During the course of the war Britain's armed forces were in action in several continents and oceans but that story in not told here. Reference is made to the changing external context only in so far as this affected government policies and thereby, directly or indirectly, domestic institutions and the daily lives of the people.

My approach has been thematic rather than chronological. I have therefore sought to compensate for the consequent loss of a sense of the passage of time and sequence of events by including in the first chapter a brief overview of the six years Britain was at war.

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