Postscript Sunday 22 September 1940

In this Postscript broadcast, Priestley praised the women of Britain: wives and mothers coping with shortages, and the young women of London defying the bombs.  In some ways, the men at war had it easier.  Although they were in danger, the Forces took care of them.  Priestley remembered this from his own army service in the First World War.   Women in Britain were in just as much danger, from bombing raids, but kept all their responsibilities, having to feed and clothe  their families.  For these women, war was “right inside the home itself, emptying the clothes cupboard and the larder, screaming its threats through the radio at the hearth, burning and bombing its way from roof to cellar …”

Detail from diagram in British Women go to War

Detail from diagram in British Women go to War

In a later book, Priestley explored how Britain had used “womanpower” for the war effort.  British Women go to War, published in 1943 by Collins, covered women’s work in the Forces, in industry, the Women’s Land Army and Women’s Voluntary Services.  This book is another of my favourites, because it includes evocative colour photographs of women at work, as dispatch riders, on a motor torpedo boat, making jam, salvaging tins, chopping trees, and population diagrams by Adprint.  This image is Adprint’s interpretation of the Women’s Auxiliary Air Force. The copyright situation of the photos is problematic, so can’t include one in this post.

Concluding both this Postscript and BWGTW, Priestley reflected on the implications for post-war society of women’s wartime experience and their new wartime roles.   He believed that “The war will have left women dissatisfied with any social and economic conditions approximating to those they knew before the war, conditions that pressed harder on women and children than they did even upon men … I cannot believe that these millions of women will be content with any kind of Britain after the war.  Their courage and endurance, their enterprise and growing initiative, will not utterly disappear just because the guns have stopped firing”.

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