Learn 75 Facts about WW2, VE Day & VJ Day – Quiz 2

You have reached Level 2, good work chaps!

So crack those knuckles and crack the codes!  In this quiz you can find out more about;

What was the Merchant Navy?  When was the first Poppy Appeal launched?  Who were the Lumberjills ?

Why was Fashion on the Ration?  And was the real James Bond a Scotsman?

Battle of the Atlantic

The Allied Merchant Navies in WW2 provided a vital but often forgotten service to their countries’ war effort. Merchant seamen crewed the ships of the British Merchant Navy which kept the United Kingdom supplied with raw materials, arms, ammunition, fuel, food and all the necessities of a nation at war throughout WW2 - literally enabling the country to defend itself.

Merchant Navy Seamen manned the merchant ships that provided the supply line for the Allied Forces and as such they were prime target in “Operation Overlord”. Thousands of vessels took part in the operation, including 139 major warships; 221 smaller combat vessels; more than 1000 minesweepers and auxiliary vessels; 4,000 landing craft; 805 merchant ships; 59 blockships; and 300 miscellaneous small craft.

30,248 Merchant Navy Seamen lost their lives during WW2, a death rate that was higher proportionately than in any of the Armed Forces.

Beauty is your Duty  

During WW2 makeup was still manufactured in the UK but in limited quantities. Make-up was never rationed but was subject to a luxury tax and was very costly. Lipstick was seen to be important for women's overall morale.
 
Brands created patriotic compacts, lipsticks and powders with spirit-rousing names like 'Auxiliary Red', 'Victory Red' and 'Regimental Red.' to encourage women to support the troops and keep up appearances.

No Change on the Frontlines

Soldiers on the frontlines in Europe, where some fighting was still taking place and in the pacific did not celebrate VE day. Instead they hoped the end of the war in Europe would allow extra soldiers to be deployed to where they were.

From Pushing a Pen to Cutting Down Trees

The Women's Timber Corps, or ‘Lumberjills’, as they were affectionately known, replaced the men who had answered the call to war, carrying out the arduous tasks of felling trees, loading lorries and trains and operating sawmills all over Scotland. A large percentage of this was mining timber, used to keep Britain's engine turning during these difficult times.
 
Britain was almost completely dependent on imported timber but only had seven months of it stockpiled. Timber was critical to the war effort: it was needed for everything from aircraft and shipbuilding to communications and coal mining. Christina Forrester in 1942, aged 19, with no experience of working outdoors or in forestry, she swapped her life in a Glasgow office for cutting down trees and driving a tractor in rural Perthshire.
 
As Christina puts it, she went from "pushing a pen to cutting down trees". These women, like so many more, may not have been on the front line, but they fought their own battles on the home front for respect and equality.

Diversity in WW2

In rare reels of colour film shot on the streets of wartime London, an incredible array of different military uniforms can be seen illustrating the vast diversity within the Armed Forces that fought together in WW2.

The RAF’s 145 Squadron consisted of men drawn from Belgium, Australia, Argentina, Czechoslovakia, the United States, New Zealand, Canada, Trinidad, Poland, South Africa and Britain. The list of languages that the BBC was broadcasting by 1945 testifies to the same internationalism.

Wartime Blackout

Blackout regulations were imposed on 1 September 1939, before the declaration of war, plunging Britain into darkness. The nation endured this enforced darkness until 23 April 1945, 10 days after the liberation of Belsen.
 
These required that all windows and doors should be covered at night with suitable material such as heavy curtains, cardboard or paint, to prevent the escape of any glimmer of light that might aid enemy aircraft.
 
When blackout was lifted in April 1945, Scottish schoolboy Donald Gulliver wrote to his father who was away serving in the forces: "The light is on at the corner, and I was playing under it last night, and the night before".
 
The Vera Lynn song When the Lights Go On Again All is particularly poignant as the years of enforced darkness took their toll.

Glasgow All Lit Up!

In Glasgow, crowds gathered at George Square and participated in the eightsome reel. Fairy lights were hung on lampposts and bonfires lit.

The office of the Daily Record used their spotlights to illuminate the city. Cinemas interrupted the film they were showing for the King’s Speech.
 

School Supplies in Short Supplies!

Paper was in such short supply during the war that pupils had to write in pencil on every inch of their exercise book until it was full.

Once full, pupils were told to turn the exercise book around and write in pen over the pencil!

Soldier Bear Wojtek

During WW2, Wojtek, an orphaned brown bear cub rescued by the Polish army, went from being a cuddly mascot to a formally enlisted soldier, as it was forbidden to take animals into a war zone.
 
Wojtek lived in a camp with his comrades, learned to salute and carry supplies, drank beer and smoked cigarettes. He also marched with them into battle and served on the front line, becoming a WW2 hero and a symbol of freedom and solidarity for Poles around the world.
After the war ended, Wojtek’s unit was transferred to Scotland and eventually disbanded.
 
Many of his comrades did not want to return to Poland and stayed in Scotland. Wojtek was offered a home at Edinburgh Zoo, where he was regularly visited by his Polish brothers-in–arms until his death in 1963. A memorial statue now stands in Princes Street Gardens, Edinburgh.

Everyone Had a Role

Conscription for women was introduced in 1941. They could choose to work in industry or join the Auxiliary Territorial Service (ATS), the Women's Auxiliary Air Force (WAAF) or the Women's Royal Naval Service (WRNS).
 
They could also volunteer for nursing or civil defence organisations. Although women had supported the war effort in World War One, this time, although still not allowed in frontline positions, they were more hands on with maintenance of equipment, planning operations and working in intelligence.
 
This freed up many more men for frontline operations.

A Real Life 007

Major-General Sir Fitzroy MacLean of Dunconnel joined the Diplomatic Corps when he graduated from Cambridge in 1933. He was descended from the Macleans of Ardgour, a division of the Clan Maclean, whose chiefs have as their historic seat Duart Castle on the Isle of Mull in the Inner Hebrides.
 
He was posted to Paris and then Moscow but when war broke out, he was desperate to join the army. He joined the Queens Own Cameron Highlanders and then the SAS. During this time, he was involved in many daring and dangerous missions. Churchill recognised his abilities as a soldier and as a diplomat and chose him to go to Yugoslavia and support Marshall Tito in his fight against the Germans. For his services during the war he was awarded the French Croix de Guerre, the Russian Order of Kutuzov, and the Yugoslavian Order of the Partisan Star. MacLean was a close friend of writer Ian Fleming, author of the James Bond books, and many believe the character is based in part on MacLean.

Fashion on the Ration

Clothing was rationed in Britain from 1st June 1941 to 15th March 1949. This allowed manufacturers to focus on producing military uniforms, safe-guarding raw materials such as leather and ensure the fair distributing of garments across the UK.

Battle of the Atlantic  

The Battle of the Atlantic was the only campaign of World War II that gave Winston Churchill sleepless nights. As he said at the great moment of crisis in June 1940: “Without victory there is no survival.”
The Battle of the Atlantic was the longest continuous military campaign of WW2, running from 1939 and lasted 2074 days until 8 May 1945, when Germany surrendered.
 
At its core was the Allied naval blockade of Germany. Both Germany and Britain relied heavily on imports to feed their people and supply materials for their war munitions industries. Imports came from Commonwealth countries and America and had to be shipped across the Atlantic Ocean, thus Britain and Germany aimed to block each other in order to starve their enemies, weaken their resources and morale.

Poppy Appeal During WW2

This first Poppy Day appeal in 1921 was a success.

Most of the money raised went to soldiers in need and their families, while the rest went to the French Children's League to help relieve suffering in war-ravaged areas of northern France. The popularity of Poppy Day grew and there were record collections during WW2.

Street Party Celebrations across the Country  

Following the military surrender signed by Germany on 7th May, Victory in Europe was declared on 8th May 1945 to signal the end of the war. Celebrations erupted all over Britain with crowds gathering at local landmarks, dances and street parties that lasted until the small hours of the morning. Bonfires lit up the skies up and down the countries with reports of Hitler effigies being burned.
 
Crowds were encouraged to wear patriotic red, white and blue.  Chocolates and chewing gum were showered upon the thousands of young people who had gathered in the streets of Edinburgh city centre (Scotsman, May 9th, 1945). It is important to note that amongst the celebrations the war in the Far East continued and many families would be mourning the loss of their loved ones.

The Royal Army Veterinary Corps

By WW2 the Cavalry did not play a significant part in the fighting. Germany, Poland and the Soviet Union used horses with limited success. However, despite advances in transportation, the Army still relied on horses and mules in difficult terrain such as parts of Italy and Palestine.

Vets from the Royal Army Veterinary Corps (RAVC) were responsible for the care of these animals. In Burma, use was made of bullocks and elephants.

Women's Contribution

Women were central to the war effort during WW2 providing a range of essential services from nursing to engineering. They also played a vital role on the Home Front, running households and fighting a daily battle of rationing, recycling, reusing, and growing food in allotments and gardens.

From 1941, women were called up for war work as mechanics, engineers, munitions workers, air raid wardens, bus and fire engine drivers. At first, only single women, aged 20-30 were called up, but by mid-1943, almost 90 per cent of single women and 80 per cent of married women were working in factories, on the land or in the Armed Forces. There were more than 640,000 women in the Armed Forces, including The Women’s Royal Naval Service (WRNS), the Women’s Auxiliary Air Force (WAAF) and the Auxiliary Territorial Service (ATS), plus many more who flew unarmed aircraft and drove ambulances. The WRNS were involved in some of the most secret planning for D-Day.

Queen Elizabeth II (then Princess Elizabeth) was one of the most notable members of the Auxiliary Territorial Service (ATS) during WW2. She trained as a driver and mechanic and reached the rank of Junior Commander.

Anti-Vermin Squad

Pests such as rats posed a serious threat to food supplies. There were thought to be around 50 million rats in Britain during WW2. Teams from the Women’s Land Army were trained to work in anti-vermin squads killing rats as well as other vermin including moles and foxes.

Healing Arts  

Three years before the war ended there was already the beginning of an idea to create an arts festival that would help heal the divisions and reconcile people after the war.
 
The vision was that a festival of arts performed by the world's leading artistes would transcend all political and cultural boundaries. When the war ended the possibility of making this a reality began to take shape and as a result the first Edinburgh International Festival took place in 1947.

Football for All

Initially, when war broke out, the Football Association (FA) suspended all football matches except those arranged for the Armed Forces. However, the Home Office agreed to allow football matches to continue provided they did not interfere with national service and industry.
 
There were some difficulties, with conscription or war work taking players away and football grounds being commandeered for other purposes, but overall it was recognised that football was a healthy way to boost morale.
 
Aside from armed forces teams many factories had their own teams and there was a rise in the number of women's football teams. Prisoners of war across all nations also found it a good way to exercise and the Red Cross and YMCA provided footballs and kit.

Heroes on the Home Front  

During WW2, Britain was called 'the Home Front' - the war affected people not just fighting in armies on the front lines, but back in their own towns and neighbourhoods. British men, women and children for the most part endured extreme hardship and distress in one form or another. Few people escaped the rigors of life in wartime Britain and only survived due to their extraordinary spirit, tenacity, determination and courage.
 
Great technological advances were made during the period 1939 to 1945 plus huge social changes meant that life after the war would and could never be the same again.

Schools Out?  

Over 2,000 school buildings were taken over by the government during the war. Lessons were often taught in any available space such as a basement. Lessons were also interrupted for several hours at a time by air raids.
 
Attendance dropped as children chose to stay away from school. Others enjoyed the interruptions, especially if they could get a quick sleep in the air raid shelter!

The Evacuees who May Never Return

London child evacuees in Wales, who had been forgotten by their parents during the war, could be adopted by their welsh foster-parents.

One 10-year old boy who had lived in wales for 5 years during the war, opted to stay with the family who took him. He had not received one letter or visit from his parents during the entire time he had been evacuated and did not want to return to London.
 

Codebreaking

The Battle of the Atlantic was the only campaign of World War II that gave Winston Churchill sleepless nights. As he said at the great moment of crisis in June 1940: “Without victory there is no survival.”
The Battle of the Atlantic was the longest continuous military campaign of WW2, running from 1939 and lasted 2074 days until 8 May 1945, when Germany surrendered.
 
At its core was the Allied naval blockade of Germany. Both Germany and Britain relied heavily on imports to feed their people and supply materials for their war munitions industries. Imports came from Commonwealth countries and America and had to be shipped across the Atlantic Ocean, thus Britain and Germany aimed to block each other in order to starve their enemies, weaken their resources and morale.

When did WWII Start and End?

WW2 began on 1 September 1939 and finally ended on 2 September 1945, lasting for 6 years and 1 day.