Men at Work pp 17-39 | Cite as

Digging For Victory: Farming in Wartime Culture

  • Linsey Robb
Part of the Genders and Sexualities in History book series


In October 1940 Winston Churchill stated ‘We rely on the farmers. We depend on the efforts they put forth in the fields of Britain … Today the farms of Britain are the front line of freedom.’1 And indeed they were. As an island nation Britain had been heavily dependent on shipped imports for much of its food supply, but with the onset of war this became impracticable. Food imports fell from 22 million tons in 1939 to just 11 million tonnes a year in 1942. High levels of imports became not only dangerous but impossible as markets controlled by the Axis powers were lost and the high expense of merchant shipping became an unaffordable luxury with respect to the high financial cost of war. It ought also to be remembered that in the First World War Germany had arguably been defeated in the crop fields rather than on the battlefield. The success of the Allied blockade, which resulted in food supplies dropping by over 50 per cent, created near famine conditions. This was compounded by a lack of fertiliser, which led to a decline in productivity. These two factors combined to create a situation in which the home front collapsed, compelling soldiers to desert and the military hierarchy to request an armistice.


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Copyright information

© Linsey Robb 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Linsey Robb
    • 1
  1. 1.University of StrathclydeUK

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