Empire Home Front - How did the war affect people's lives? Main page


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It was not just the lives of the men and women who joined the armed forces that were affected by the outbreak of war. Ordinary civilians also saw their lives change as governments started to control the supply of food and take more interest in industrial and agricultural production.

Many countries such as Australia, Ceylon (now Sri Lanka) and Malta introduced rationing. Food, clothing, petrol and gas were all rationed so that everybody received an equal share. Other products were also in short supply. In Australia, there was a shortage of rubber so the government reduced the speed limit for motor vehicles from 40 mph to 30 mph. It was hoped that this would reduce wear and tear on tyres by nearly 25%.

The work place was also affected by the war. Farm workers were asked to grow different crops so that they could help feed the population of their own country and keep Britain supplied with much needed raw materials. Mines producing minerals such as tin, copper and iron were asked to increase production so that more supplies could be sent to Britain. Factories started to make munitions and other goods that could be used in the war effort. Women also started to be employed in greater numbers. As well as joining the Armed Services themselves, they took the jobs of men who had left to fight.


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