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Propaganda and the War Effort

In WW2 the British government saw that boosting morale on the Home Front would be a key part of supporting the armed services overseas. People on the Home Front played a big role in the production of military equipment, so it was vital to maintain both their morale and their faith that the war would be won.


One method of increasing public morale was the organisation of local war effort campaigns. These gave people the opportunity to play a part in the war effort by contributing, even in just a small way. This photo shows a man and a boy during Northampton Salvage Week. During this week, people were encouraged to donate scrap metal - everything from pots and pans to railings - which would then be recycled to make weapons.


In the next photo, people are shown queuing up to buy their war savings during 'Wings for Victory Week'. This was a nationwide initiative in which each local area was given a fundraising target to raise money to build new aircraft. Both of these events and many others were used to bolster morale and reassure people that the war was going well.

Propaganda was a tool used by both sides in the Second World War both to boost morale at home and to try to lower that of the enemy. On occasions, both sides dropped papers such as this German propaganda leaflet, in an effort to reduce public support for the war.


Each governments also used propaganda posters to bolster public support for the conflict. Have a look at these examples:


'Lend your pennies to your country'

'Waste littler, paste Hitler'

'Join the Women's Land Army'


Not all British people supported the war, however. 'Lord Haw Haw', a group of British radio broadcasters based in Hamburg, Germany held negative views towards the Allies and felt that they should agree peace terms with the Nazis. 

The government wanted to use the BBC to counter anti-British propaganda. The BBC disagreed, arguing that:

'to put out clumsy rebuttals at the behest of Government would dignify Haw-Haw's propaganda, and undermine the trust of the audience. In the long run, a trusted news source for audiences at home and abroad would be a more potent weapon.'  


Behest - an order or request

Contribute - to give something, like money or time, for a purpose

Dignify - to make something or someone seem important

Initiative - plan to achieve a certain goal

Morale -  level of happiness among a population

Potent - powerful, has a strong effect

Rebuttal - to deny or argue against something

Undermine - to weaken something

View other relevant resources on My Learning or scroll down for a list of links and resources on this topic. 

 See the teachers' notes page for discussion and activity ideas.

Northampton Salvage Week © Northamptonshire Record Office
Photograph of people queueing to buy Wings For Victory stamps © East Midlands Regional Archive Council
German propaganda flyer © Northamptonshire Record Office
Photograph of troops at an outdoor concert © Raleigh UK Ltd