In 1945, there were approximately 5 million men and women in the armed forces. It was a challenge to bring these people back into civilian life, also known as civvy street.

A group of smiling men carrying duffel bags. Some are in uniform, others are in civilian clothing.
Demobilisation centre in Lancashire, June 1945

How did demobilisation work?

Ernest Bevin was the chief architect of the plan and it began six weeks after the war ended.

Military personnel were released in order, based on the length of their service and age. Soldiers from key roles, with vital skills which would be of benefit to the UK were released ahead of their turn. Many were angered by the slow pace of release and this led to a number of disciplinary incidents.

Former soldiers encountered a variety of problems on their return to civilian life. Numerous homes and places of work had been destroyed, which meant that many people faced problems finding work or settling back into normal family life. The post-war divorce rate was high with over 60,000 applications processed in 1947.