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Discuss the impact of the Second World War on Britain.

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Introduction

BRITISH HISTORY Discuss the impact of the Second World War on Britain. From a general angle, the Second World War affected Britain in many ways. It was a success to some extent. Britain was on the winning side. During the 1940-1941 period, she fought alone against the Nazis, managed to avoid surrender and enforced national unity and pride. Britain ended the war on the winning side and had established a 'special relationship' with the USA. Britain had great prestige and took an important role in the formation of the new United Nations. However, Britain was also very damaged by the war. The country's infrastructure was very badly damaged as a result of bombing. The war was very expensive and Britain had to make important loans to maintain the economy. Reconstruction was going to be long, difficult and expensive. Because of this damage, Britain was less able to continue as a world power, this meant colonial independence movements gained momentum. The Second World War intensified the process of de-colonization. It might be true to say that the general economic and military impact of the war left Britain in the same situation as a defeated nation but with the illusions of victory. When Britain got into the war, many immediate measures were taken. These included the mass evacuation of children from cities to escape expected bombings, the digging of air-raid Anderson shelters against conventional bombs and gas attacks. A complete blackout was imposed not to guide German bombers but doubled road accidents, and before the end of 1939, "glimmer" lighting was allowed. ...read more.

Middle

The BBC also used humour in light entertainment programs, they were very popular and helped to calm the situation down. The war also had the effect of social mobility. People found themselves doing new things, the war war brought them out of their lives. Especially the work and armed forces found themselves living away from home and meeting and mixing with people for different classes and different regions. Britain was much less regional after the war. The Americans had a great influence on the British. The British knew about the Americans through light entertainment and Hollywood films. The arrival of American forces in Britain to fight against the Nazis made some British very jealous. The Americans were bigger and better equipped. ("Oversexed, overpaid, over here"). Many British people felt inferior and insecure. The influence of the Americans (Americanization) made a real change in British society. Chewing gum, cigarettes, coca-cola and nylon stockings were all new to the British. The American GIs arriving with great confidence and wealth made the British very jealous, especially for men, because a lot of women married American GIs to get out of the depressed Britain, many British women therefore became "GI brides". The role of women changed because of the war. It caused a huge increase in the employment of women. They worked in factories like ammunition factories, they became WAAFs (Women's Auxiliary Air Force), Land Girls, stenographers and even drivers. Because the many men were away, women had greater responsibilities especially concerning finance. ...read more.

Conclusion

This act made secondary education available to all, free and without restriction, raised the school leaving age to 15 and laid down that secondary schools were to be of three types : grammar, technical and modern. Economically, the war ruined Britain. In March 1941, the US Congress passed the Lend-Lease Act which gave Britain crucial supplies from America, to be pais for later. The USA kept Britain going during the war and by the end of 1945, Britain's overseas debts stood at � 3 000 million. Truman then abruptly ended Lend Lease. This crushed the British economy, and Britain wanted another loan from the USA, which was granted on unfavourable terms. Britain was therefore reduced to a close and uncomfortable dependence on the USA. Britain's world position was changed by the end of the war. British defeats had stirred up nationalistic feelings in her colonies. The country which did the greatest damage to the image of Britain was Japan. In 1941 and 1942, Japan was damaging the British Empire, especially Singapoure. The myth of the Great British Empire was destroyed. This encouraged colonies to take independence (India in 1947, Ceylon in 1948, and Malaisia). Within 20 years most of Britain's empire had become independent. Successful Prime Ministers of the second half of the 20th century agree that Britain no longer an big world power, but they behave as if they believe it, especially concerning military involvement (Iraq and Afghanistan). Britain became a second rate power despite her victory, and the war revealed the USA and the USSR as the two most powerful states in the world. These two major world powers sharing two opposite political opinions marked the start of the Cold War. ...read more.

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