Men were now called upon to not only take up arms but also to till the land, to provide rations to the fighting force, and to make weapons. Every man had to contribute to the war effort, be it by joining the armed forces or making weapons.
The Second World War was and is the topic of much speculation, debate and inquiry and the humongous literature which this war produced is unparalleled in scope. This war affected the whole world at large, while its impact on the participating nations is felt even to this day. In Britain this war was called the People's War and it changed the lives of the men and women and children who lived through it, by altering the political idiom and changing the social landscape. Professor Sonya O. Rose, in her book titled "Which People's War National Identity and Citizenship in Wartime Britain, 1939-1945" gives an account of the general mood of the time and the consensual nature of the general population, who banded together, unmindful of class, gender, age, or political affiliations to defeat the common enemy-Nazi Germany. This war was total in its scope, in that no life was left untouched by the upheavals it caused.
Professor Rose, in her work has also placed a great deal of emphasis on the ideal of nationalism which permeated the national consciousness. The Welsh and the Scots, with their strong regional identities joined the war effort but the constant reference to it as England's war, gave rise to the regional aspirations and she notes how the Scottish soldier's keenness to wear a kilt may be construed as an anti-English sentiment, while fighting on the British side.
John Stevenson's book on British society (1914 - 45) highlights the salient factors that took place in the society of Britain during the Second World War. Stevenson explores the different periods in British history and presents us with a clear interpretation of many important events and incidents that took place during that time. Some of the topics that he deals with in his book are the ravages of war, women's suffrage and wartime experiences, class system and organized labor in relation to the parliament, the economy and welfare reforms that existed during that period, foreign policy, equal citizenship, gender roles and appeasement of the existing situations.
Gender Roles - Women during the war
Stevenson's book highlights many of the strongly held beliefs surrounding the war. It tells us of how the greatest source of female employment was domestic service. Despite the fact that most of the women were employed in munitions factories and even though there was a massive escalation in the production of armaments, yet rendering domestic services was a priority in female labor.
The role of women underwent the greatest change during this period, and they were called upon to fill up the roles traditionally reserved for men. Carol Harris, in the article "Women under Fire in World War Two," details the duties which women were called upon to perform and the new roles they had to take upon themselves. During World War I, women took up jobs in the essential services so that men could go and fight the war but, in World War II Sir William Beveridge, in a secret report in 1940, clearly spelt out that women would have to be conscripted in the army, although they would not have to bear arms. Women were called u