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England’s Homefront: Civilian Courage in World War II – clip

Julie Taddeo / University of Maryland, College Park


British government propaganda dubbed World War II “The People’s War.”  In this war, there would be no sharp distinction between a soldier and civilian, as air raids targeted those once considered “off limits”:  women, children, and the elderly.  This talk will look at the many ways in which civilians participated in the war effort, from “Dad’s Army” and housewives told to “make do and mend,” to child evacuees and those raising rabbits and collecting scrap metal.  But did all people experience the war in the same way?  Age, gender, class, and race all factored into one’s wartime experience. We will also look at Prime Minister Churchill’s radio speeches and how war time films like “Mrs. Miniver” (1942) encouraged the “keep calm and carry on” spirit.  Lastly, we will see how memories of “the people’s war” live on in British TV shows and films in the 21st century, so much so that Queen Elizabeth II invoked the war as a rallying call for unity during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Julie Taddeo

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