M&S and the War Effort - Staff Stories

Discussion ideas

The following are suggestions for how these resources can be used to stimulate discussion and further research (see also the Related Links at the bottom of the page), or to give to students as homework assignments.  

See also Activity Ideas on the next page.

You can also download an M&S Second World War timeline, which sets significant M&S events against key dates in history.

KS3/4 History:

  1. A large number of M&S stores were hit by enemy bombs during the War - discuss whether this was 'accidental' or whether the stores were actually being targeted.  Was the location of each store an important factor?

  2. With so many of the M&S male employees being called away to serve in the Armed Forces, how do you think the stores managed to keep going without them? Do you think the stores would have been more or less busy than before the War?

  3. As well as firefighters, what other jobs can you think of that were normally done by men, which were carried out by women during the War? Which one would you have liked to do most if you could choose?

  4. Why do you think the melted cash float was mounted on a special display block, and is now part of the M&S Company Archive? 

  5. Before computers and the internet were around, it must have been a massive job for M&S to write letters to all their employees serving in the Armed Forces - why do you think they decided to do this?

  6. What do you think it would have meant to those M&S employees serving in the Armed Forces to receive the Christmas bulletin? What things would they have missed from home?

  7. The Christmas message on page one of the 1944 Forces Bulletin includes the sentence:   'life is reduced to a mere primitive existence full of hazards and uncertainties'. Discuss what you think was meant by this phrase. Do you think today's Armed Forces on active service share any of the same experiences?

  8. In how many different ways do today's Armed Forces personnel receive news from their friends and relatives back home? Which do you think is the most popular and why?

  9. In the 1944 Forces Bulletin the Store Superintendent's report says:  
    'Where you once saw a price limit of 5/- (25p) , with occasionally 6/11d (34p) , prices now run up to 67/6d (3.37p) '.    
    Why do you think prices had risen so dramatically during the War?  Would higher prices have meant bigger profits for the shops or not? Give reasons for your answers. 

KS3/4 Citizenship:

  1. After the War, women were expected to return to their home or office jobs, but some of them protested and started campaigning for equal employment rights and equal pay (see Women's Rights: the Equal Pay Debate).  Are there any jobs today that can ONLY be done by men? or ONLY by women?

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