Great British Posters of the ‘Keep Calm and Carry On’ Era
During the Second World War, Western Countries opposing Germany (e.g. Great Britain and USA) had plenty of their men leaving home for battle whilst the women were left behind to look after their future generations. The problem at the time was that plenty of manual labour jobs, which would have been carried out by men, required women to complete them – an unconventional job role for women in previous years.
The need for women to fill the boots of their lads and work in factories, farms, and a range of other male dominant jobs during this period led to a series of propaganda posters urging women to come and work in such conditions to support the men fighting away. We’re going to look at some of the posters produced at the time and how they sparked a change in society to give women equal rights as men. Additionally, we will explore the great range of posters that encouraged citizens of Great Britain to make, do, and mend as a way to save supplies needed for the frontline troops.
Women of Britain Come into the Factories
This poster was publicised in December 1941 as a part of the government’s efforts to encourage women from all walks of life in Great Britain to work in the war machine production factories. Propaganda such as this drastically altered society’s perception of what women were capable of doing at the time as the use of heavy equipment to build machines, weaponry, and other great feats of engineering were previously only done by men.
Grow Your Own Food
During World War II people were encouraged to make themselves self-sustainable by growing their own food in the garden space they had available that could be cultivated. With people growing their own, farms could focus on supplying the fighters abroad with nutrition.
Join the Women’s Land Army
The Women’s Land Army was created during the First World War for the purpose of fulfilling men’s jobs in the agricultural sector, which was also operational throughout World War II. This poster was another of the government’s efforts to encourage women to do their bit for their country, however, there is a big contrast in message and style between this poster and the factory one. The Women’s Land Army poster is less industrial looking because of the nature of the work they were recruiting for, whereas the factory poster clearly illustrates that workers are manufacturing machines of destruction.
For women who weren’t the type for factory work, the Women’s Land Army was a more “natural” way for them to contribute to the country’s war efforts. This poster is therefore reflective of aspects of the work involved with an encouraging headline including the words “happy” and “healthy”. Of course the hardship and labour involved was in fact just as difficult as working in a factory, however, as propaganda this poster effectively served its purpose.
Save Kitchen Waste to Feed the Pigs
Wasting food during the war was not an option, which is why the local councils promoted their disposal services, similar to our current day waste disposal. The food waste we are encouraged to separate from other waste was used as feed for livestock in this time period, which would go further to provide soldiers and citizens with meat, such as pork illustrated above.
Every Woman is Needed NOW
Women was also encouraged to join the military services but as office workers rather than front-line fighters. This was promoted as a way to replace men who were needed as soldiers e.g. The Women’s Royal Naval Service poster said “join the Wrens and free a man for the fleet”. These types of posters were again a clear illustration that women were able to fulfil what were traditionally men’s jobs at the time.
It was evident that World War II gave many women across Great Britain the opportunity to prove that they were as equal as men in the workplace, however, once it had ended women were expected to go back to their previous roles of housewives, etc. It was made official through Government policy that men were to return to their workplace, leaving many women disappointed as they had been seen as fully capable of doing “a man’s job”.
The efforts of women during this period did however give weight to movements in the later years that saw women gaining equal opportunities and rights to men, forming the equality we see in our current day society and workplace.