Those at home suffered and sacrificed much to achieve victory in Europe, says Sixth Form student Sam.
The Second World War was a tragic historical event in which many brave soldiers made sacrifices unthinkable to many of us to protect our liberty and enable us to live the lives we do today. However, many forget that it was not only the soldiers fighting on the front line, but also those at home who suffered terribly and sacrificed much to achieve victory in Europe. There were an estimated 50 million civilian deaths as a direct result of the war and without the immense effort and collaboration of so many brave civilians, victory in Europe on May the 7th 1945 would have been impossible.
Britain, after their evacuation of France at Dunkirk, an event in which 860 civilian vessels helped to evacuate the BEF, would be the recipient of one of the most devastating bombing campaigns in human history. What is popularly known as the Blitz saw the Luftwaffe target London and other large cities, causing the deaths of 43,000 British civilians with another 139,000 being wounded because of the raids.
John Gent, now a retired London transport worker who was eight at the time of the Blitz, commented on what it was like living in Croydon, which was bombed 339 times during the war, in an interview with The Independent newspaper. “We would all sit knitting squares to make into quilts for the troops and Merchant Navy. As the bombing worsened, we took to going to bed in the shelter and spending the whole night there”.
During the war supplies were tight with rationing being implemented and civilians were forced to take things into their own hands. Many grew vegetables on any spare land that they had, and with many of the fighting-age men being overseas during much of the war, civilians were responsible for order at home. Many volunteered to be Air Raid Wardens and part of the Home Guard, ensuring the security of the home front and the continued efficiency of the British war effort.
Factory work was vital during the Second World War, and with the army taking most of the factory workforce, it was down to the civilians to keep up the factory work and the production of armaments. These jobs were assumed largely by women, whose contribution to the war effort, both in and out of the factories, cannot be understated. In total around 950,000 British women worked in factories during World War Two, and the continued production of military equipment would have been impossible without this remarkable contribution.
It is so important that on the 75th anniversary of Victory in Europe that we remember all of those who suffered so much so that we may live in a safe and free world today. The enormous sacrifice given not only by the soldiers but also the civilians is one that we are truly grateful for, and perhaps we all can draw from their amazing courage in today’s trying times.