The Great Frost

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The popular image of British people in the Second World War is of a people locked in national solidarity. This imagery was powerfully portrayed in film, radio, newspapers and magazines and was a useful propaganda tool for home and foreign consumption.

Raids during the Blitz nevertheless produced great divisions and demoralising effects - lack of sleep, insufficient shelters and inefficiency of warning systems were causes.

Over a quarter of London's population had left the city by November 1940, with total evacuees numbering 1.4 million, including a high proportion from the poorest inner-city families.

Reception committees were completely unprepared for the condition of some of the children. Far from displaying the nation's unity in time of war, the scheme backfired, often aggravating class antagonism and bolstering prejudice about the urban poor. Within four months, 88% of evacuated mothers, 86% of small children and 43% of school children had returned back home.

Next page: The winter of 1739-40