Men at Work pp 40-75 | Cite as

The Attack Begins in the Factory: The Male Industrial Worker in Wartime Culture

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

Abstract

On 18 June 1940 Winston Churchill was broadcast to the nation, via the BBC, stating: ‘The front line runs through the factories. The workmen are soldiers with different weapons but the same courage’.1 While this may have been hyperbolic propaganda, Churchill was certainly correct in stating the importance of industry to the prosecution of war. The Second World War was a technological war, and as such was reliant on planes, tanks, machine guns, bombs and mines: commodities which could only be produced to sufficient quantities if Britain’s industrial concerns were efficiently harnessed to the war machine. Production of guns and small arms increased to more than eight times their pre-war levels.2 Similarly, the numbers of aircraft produced annually more than tripled during the war.3 Moreover, despite the popular image, both now and during the war, of a largely female industrial labour force, many men remained in industry. Indeed, in shipbuilding, mining, explosives, and engineering as well as the iron and steel industries, men remained the dominant workforce despite an increase in the number of women employed in such sectors.4 Although numbers of women employed in engineering trades quadrupled during the war there still remained five male workers for every three female employees.5

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Notes

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Copyright information

© Linsey Robb 2015

Authors and Affiliations

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

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