Leeds in World War II

The War Effort   

Up and down the country, all through the First World War, people were urged to help with the war effort by raising money for various charities and schemes. Towns and cities were encouraged to compete with one another to see who could raise the most money. 


In Leeds, the fundraising target for Salute the Soldier Week was £6 million -enough to send 100 divisions of soldiers to Berlin. However, the city raised nearly £7 million. The photo on the left shows Major General Shears making a speech, standing in front of the target indicator, which shows how much money had already been raised.

 

The photo on the right was taken during  Ark Royal week.This was possibly Leeds' greatest wartime triumph. The first Ark Royal was a wooden battleship in Sir Francis Drake's fleet, and the second was a seaplane carrier in World War One. Leeds had adopted the third Ark Royal, an aircraft carrier, for Warships Week in 1941. 


However, within days the ship had been torpedoed and sunk. The original fundraising objective changed from raising £3.5 million for a replacement hull, to over £5 million for a replacement ship. Warship Week in Leeds became 'Ark Royal Week', and citizens gave generously. The final total raised was over £9 million, made up of all levels of donations - from children's pocket money to buy nuts and bolts, to big cheques of up to £250,000 from local businesses.

 

Make do and Mend - Recycling in WW2

Another aspect of the war effort was avoiding waste and recycling as much as possible. Fewer goods could be imported, now that German submarines were attacking British ships and factories changed their function to producing munitions rather than goods, so people were encouraged to be very thrifty. 


An advertising campaign in 1943 had this memorable little ditty:

 

Someone's going to be sorry

Someone's going to pay

Someone's going to be sorry

They wasted my life away

 

This was accompanied by a picture of a tablet of soap dissolving down the sink because it had been left in water.


Recycling scrap metal was an important part of the war effort. Old saucepans, park railings, razor blades and tin cans were all put to good use in making weapons and machinery to win the war. Another wartime song was:

 

My saucepans have all been surrendered,

The teapot is gone from the hob

The colanderís leaving the cabbage,

For a very much different job.

So now when I hear on the wireless

Of Hurricanes showing their mettle

I see, in a vision before me,

A Dornier chased by my kettle


Glossary

Aircraft carrier - Large warship with a long flat deck for aircraft to take off from and land on

Colander - Dish with holes in it used to drain food cooked in water

Division - (military) a unit that includes a headquarters and two or more brigades
Donations - a gift, usually of money to a charity
Dornier - A type of German aircraft
Fleet - A large group of ships or aircraft working together
Hurricanes - A type of British aircraft
Indicator - A person, thing or instrument that measures something
Objective - An aim or a goal 
Salute - A signal of respect made by someone in the armed forces
Torpedoed - Hit and damaged by a torpedo
Triumph - A great success or victory 


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