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WWII and the Home Front in Lincolnshire

In 1933, Adolf Hitler came to power as leader of the German Nazi Party. Under him Germany increased its armed forces and built up its stocks of weapons. Hitler moved his troops into the Rhineland in 1936 and took over Austria and parts of Czechoslovakia in 1938. At this time Italy was increasing control in the Mediterranean and North Africa, whilst Japan invaded China in 1937. Links between Germany, Italy and Japan were growing stronger.

At first Britain and France tried to appease these powers, but as the prospect of war seemed more likely, both Britain and France prepared by equipping their armies and making plans for the population. These included plans for rationing of food and raw materials as well as the plans for the safety of the population.

The British Government expected London and other large cities to be heavily bombed within hours of the outbreak of war. Plans were made to move certain people to areas considered to be at less risk. Shelters were dug in parks and city streets. Gas masks were issued to all men, women and children.

Following the invasion of Poland by Germany and the outbreak of war in September 1939 many of these plans were put into operation.

The outbreak of WWII was a time of great change both for those fighting in the armed forces and the people living in Britain managing on the ‘Home Front’. People had to cope with many difficult things:

  • Many people worked long hours in their paid jobs and often had extra voluntary ‘war work’ to fit in.
  • In the home shortages and rationing made providing food and other basic needs difficult and placed extra demands on people’s time and energy.
  • Many people were not living in their own homes but had moved to different areas as evacuees or war workers.
  • Family members were often living apart from each other.
  • War also involved much danger. The major threat to people living in Britain came from bombing, which both sides undertook.

Some parts of the country were at much greater risk of air raids than others. Children were evacuated from areas of high risk, to areas considered to be relatively safe. These were known as reception areas. Lincoln and the surrounding area was considered relatively safe and was a reception area receiving evacuees from cities including Leeds, Hull and Sheffield.

Lincoln has a strong industrial background, indeed during WWI it had played an important role in the development of The Tank. Many Lincoln factories were once again involved with the manufacture of items for the war effort including armaments.

In Lincolnshire agriculture and farming also played an important role during wartime. Previously a large proportion of Britain’s food supplies had been imported from abroad. The production of home grown food was vital to replace these items and ensure that the people had enough food to eat. Many women volunteered to join the Women’s Land Army and worked on farms replacing male workers who were fighting the war. Farmers were encouraged to plough up more land for growing food crops and even the public were asked to help ‘Dig for Victory’ by growing food in their gardens, allotments or even window boxes.

Lincolnshire played an important military role in connection with the armed services during wartime. The Royal Lincolnshire Regimental Gallery reflects and commemorates aspects of life for the local regiment in WWII.

Lincolnshire is also especially connected with the Royal Air Force and is often referred to as ‘Bomber County’. This name marks the role of the many Lincolnshire air bases who were involved with the Battle of Britain and air raids over continental Europe.

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Last updated: 24 February 2011

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