History

Wales and World War Two

1939-1945

World War Two solved the unemployment problem, temporarily at least. By 1941, virtually everybody capable of working had a job, and the proportion of women entering the workforce in Wales was higher than it was in any other part of the United Kingdom.


Image: Evacuees during World War Two (Getty)

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The Story of Wales
The Story of Wales

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More information about: Wales and World War Two

World War Two losses amounted to around 15,000 Welsh lives, and many more were drafted to work in factories in England. Incomes improved and, since few goods were on sale, working class families found that for the first time they had a little money put by.

Wales was believed to be too far to the west to be subject to German air raids. The arrival of evacuees and others seeking safety gave the country a temporary population boost of some 200,000.

The belief that Wales would be spared any bombing was ill founded, however, as was proved by the massive bombardment of Swansea in February 1941. Nevertheless, the belief led to the establishment in Wales of many war industries, including the huge arsenal at Bridgend.

Employment in heavy industry declined, creating hopes that after the war the country would develop a more broadly based economy. Food shortages led to enhanced prices for agricultural produce, with farmers enjoying unprecedented prosperity.

As the war dragged on there was a determination, in Wales as in the rest of the United Kingdom, that the sufferings of the 1930s should not return, a determination which was a major factor in the Labour Party's overwhelming victory in the general election of 1945.

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