c.p. (45) 61.
3RD July, 1945.
NOTE BY THE PRIME MINISTER.
The Man-power Committee have said there is a shortage of men available to work in civilian industry. A solution is to increase the number of women released from the Services. They have suggested 135,000 women should be released in the second half of 1945.
2. I am in favour of this recommendation, but think that arrangements should be made as soon as possible to release all women who do not want to continue in the services.
3. I suggest that the man-power committee should be asked to review their recommendation and consider increasing the number of women to be released from the Services to 250,000- in the second half of 1945.
c.p. (45) 61.
3RD July, 1945.
NOTE BY THE PRIME MINISTER.
THE Man-power Committee have drawn attention (c.p. (45) 53) to the severe shortage of man-power available for civilian industry; and they consider that one of the most effective means of helping to meet this shortage will be to increase substantially the numbers of women to be released from the Services. They have suggested that a total of 135,000 women should be released during the second half of 1945.
2. I am in favour of this recommendation, but I do not think it goes far enough. In principle, I think that arrangements ought to be made to release from the Women’s Services at the earliest date all women who do not wish to continue in those Services.
3. I suggest that the Man-power Committee should be asked to review their recommendation on this matter in consultation with the Service Ministers. As a start they might consider whether they could not increase to 250,000 the target figure for the number of women to be released from the Services in the second half of 1945.
A secret memorandum, entitled Man-Power, from Winston Churchill to the other members of the Cabinet on 3 July 1945. Churchill was still the Prime Minister at the time, although he wrote this two days after the 1945 General Election, which he ultimately lost. At this point he did not know he would lose the election because the votes of all the men and women who were stationed abroad had not been counted.
In 1939, the United Kingdom, together with her ally France, had declared war on Nazi Germany. Less than a year into the war, in 1940, British defeats led to Winston Churchill, the chief advocate of rearmament in the 1930s, becoming Prime Minister. After six years, tens of millions of deaths, and involvement from countries around the world, in April 1945 Adolf Hitler (the leader of Nazi Germany) took his own life and the country surrendered. Despite Victory in Europe, the war in the Pacific, primarily between the USA and Japan, continued until August.
The 1939-45 war saw women conscripted by the Ministry of Labour for the first time, and women were also given non-combative jobs in the military. During the course of the war, around 600,000 women were enlisted in different branches of the armed forces. For instance the Women’s Royal Naval Service (WRNS) and the Women’s Royal Air Force (WRAF). Of these women, over three quarters were volunteers. The women served the British forces at home and overseas, carrying out tasks such as cooking and answering telephones, as well as more active work such as operating searchlights and working in mechanical occupations. In fact, the 93rd Searchlight Regiment consisted of only women. The status of these military services can be seen by their famous recruits: two of Winston Churchill’s daughters (Mary and Sarah) were in uniform, and in 1945 Princess Elizabeth (now Queen Elizabeth II) served in the Auxiliary Territorial Service.
On 5 July 1945, the British held their first General Election since 1935. Winston Churchill was the leader of the Conservative Party and had proven to be a popular war leader. Many people, however, remembered the weaknesses of Conservative government in the 1930s, particularly in light of the Great Depression and the failure of the political powers across the Western world to halt the rise of extreme political parties in Europe. The political tide was turning towards the Labour party, the party which wholeheartedly favoured a welfare state - the reward for war-time sacrifices. On 26 July, 21 days after the election, it was officially announced that the Labour Party had won a landslide victory.
Remember we are hoping that this source can be useful to us in investigating whether the attitudes towards women changed after they secured the vote in 1918. Sources usually help historians in two ways:
Which of the inferences below can be made from this source?
|On a scale of 1-5 how far do you agree that this source supports this inference?||Which extract(s) from the source support your argument?|
|The Second World War might have brought new opportunities for women during the war.|
|Women had played a different role to the one they had played in the First World War.|
|Churchill still saw women only filling in men’s roles on a temporary basis.|
|The source shows attitudes to women changed after they secured the vote in 1918.|
|Churchill liked to reach his own decisions, rather than paying attention to recommendations from his colleagues in government.|
This source is interesting because it shows that, as with the First World War, Churchill recognises that women can play important roles during wartime, particularly roles that are distinct from the men’s. What does this suggest about Churchill’s attitude to women and their role in war?
It is also interesting as a source due to when it was written, shortly after Victory in Europe. What does this tell us about Churchill’s duties as a Prime Minister helping the transition from a country-at-war, to a country-at-peace? What does it tell us about Churchill’s view of his role as Prime Minister and his respect for collective decision-making using Cabinet committees?