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Age 5: 1940s

1940s 1940 - 1949 AD


What Events Led to the 40s?

The 20s and 30s? Well, yes.

After World War 1, Germany lost much in its surrender, and the signing of the Treat of Versaille. The main points of this were;

  • War Guilt Clause - Germany should accept the blame for starting World War One
  • Reparations - Germany had to pay £6,600 million for the damage caused by the war
  • Disarmament - Germany was only allowed to have a small army and six naval ships. No tanks, no airforce and no submarines were allowed. The Rhineland area was to be de-militarised.
  • Territorial Clauses - Land was taken away from Germany and given to other countries. Anschluss (union with Austria) was forbidden.

In the late 30s, Hitler, who had fought as a soldier in what was then termed The Great War, felt he could take back the lands of the old empire, and created the National Socialist Party (NAZI party).

Germany, like Britain, was still suffering from the legacies of The Great War, and Hitler managed to rally the support of his citizens.

Germany first invaded Austria, and despite calls for help from its leader, the other countries, in an effort to avoid another large scale war, stood by and watched.

Hitler then took his forces on to invade Czechoslovakia, and on 1 September 1939, he invaded Poland. As Britain and France were allies of Poland, they declared war on Germany on 2 September 1939.

7 Ages of Manchester Festival 2005: 1940s Singers


Death, Disease and Destruction

The Second War brought death and destruction on a global scale. 55 million died on the battlefield, in death camps, or in their homes. Millions more became refugees and cities, towns and countryside were devastated, societies, shattered and nations smashed. The impact was total and shaped all our lives.

The Blitz brought the horrors of war to the home front. Over 40,000 civilians were killed during the blitz in towns and cities up and down the country. The 54,420 tonnes of bombs that fell on Britain destroyed over 2 million homes.

Manchester suffered heavily from a number of raids during 1940-41. In one raid alone on Salford 5,000 people were made homeless, and there were 197 deaths and over 800 people injured.

What Are the 40s Famous For?

In the first half of the 40s, the Second World War was still being fought. Rationing, Utility clothing, Air Raids and Make Do and Mend. In 1945 there was a new Labour government and the set up of the welfare state began.

Will I Have Heard of Any Famous People From the 40s?

Famous people in the 1940’s, George Formby, Gracie Fields, Vera Lynne, Bing Crosby, The Andrews Sisters, Glen Miller, Winston Churchill, Clement Attlee, Anne Frank, Ghandi, Christian Dior, Sugar Ray Robinson.

Can You Give Me a Famous Quote From the Time?

'Never in the field of human conflict was so much owed by so many to so few' Winston Churchill.

Quiz Questions

  1. What does WAAF stand for?
  2. What can you see in Manchester Cathedral that was installed to commemorate the Manchester Blitz of 1941?
  3. What year did rationing end in Britain?

You can find the answers here…

7 Ages of Manchester Festival 2005: 1940s objects


What Was the Food Like?

Woolton Pie (Serves 5 to 6 persons)

Take 1 lb each of diced potatoes, cauliflower, swedes and carrots;
Three or four spring onions;
One teaspoonful of vegetable extract and
One teaspoonful of oatmeal.

  1. Cook all together for ten minutes with just enough water to cover.
  2. Stir occasionally to prevent the mixture from sticking.
  3. Allow to cool; put into a pie dish, sprinkle with chopped parsley and cover with a crust of potatoes or wholemeal pastry.
  4. Bake in a moderate oven until the pastry is nicely brown and serve hot with brown gravy.

Tomato Spread

2 skinned tomatoes
1 onion, finely grated
1 egg

  1. Put skinned tomatoes in small pan with onion, then add egg and seasoning.
  2. Whip up and simmer till mixture thickens.

Scotch Broth

2 oz diced carrot
2 oz diced turnip/swede
2 oz diced onion
1 small leek
4 oz thin flank of beef/neck of mutton/a bone
½ oz pearl barley
1 large tbsp chopped parsley

  1. Simmer steadily for 3 hours.
  2. Stir in parsley and serve.

Salad Dressing

1 tbsp marg
1 tbsp flour
2 tbsp granulated sugar
1 tsp dry mustard
2 re-made eggs*
4-6 tbsp vinegar
1 teacup water

  1. Beat marg and sugar together, add mustard and flour, then eggs and water.
  2. Cook over a very low heat, stirring continuously till mixture is as thick as custard.
  3. Allow to cool, then whip in vinegar.

* I've heard different things about the proportions used for remaking dried eggs - some say 1 tbsp egg powder = 1 egg; others that 1 tsp powder = 1 egg.

Rock Buns

4 oz SR flour
Pinch salt
2 oz dripping/lard
2 oz brown sugar
1 tbsp dried egg
Milk to mix
2-3 oz dried fruit

  1. Rub dripping into flour and salt.
  2. Add sugar, egg, fruit, and mix with enough milk to make a stiff mixture.
  3. Bake in a hot oven.
  4. Makes 12 buns.

Scotch Pancakes

4 oz plain flour
Pinch salt
1 tbsp sugar
½ tsp cream of tartar
½ tsp bicarb of soda
1 tbsp dried egg

  1. Rub 1oz marg into dry ingredients, then add milk to mix (to a stiffish batter).
  2. Cook on griddle, or very lightly greased frying pan.
  3. Rub griddle with small piece of lard every 3-4 batches.
  4. Place 1 dessertsp of mixture on pan.
  5. Increase heat.
  6. In seconds, bubbles should rise to surface of pancake.
  7. Turn pancake over when brown underneath.

Anzac Biscuits

2 oz flour
2 oz coconut
2 oz quaker oats
1 oz sugar
2 oz marg
1 level tsp bicarb of soda
1 tbsp syrup
1 tbsp hot water

  1. Place all dry ingredients in a bowl and rub in marg.
  2. Add bicarb of soda dissolved in hot water, add syrup and mix to a paste.
  3. Place in tiny heaps on a greased baking tin.
  4. Bake in a slow oven for 10 mins.
  5. Allow to set on tray.

Mock Whip Cream

2 oz marg
2 dessertsp dried milk
2 dessertsp sugar
1 dessertsp water
Few drops vanilla essence

  1. Cream marg and sugar, add cold water and essence.
  2. Stir in dried milk and whip together.
  3. To vary flavour you may add 1 dessertsp cocoa or coffee essence.

Buttercream Filling for Cakes

To make the butter ration go further…

  1. Beat together 2 oz marg and 1 oz icing sugar.
  2. Mix 1 cup new milk and 1 desesrtsp cornflour and bring to boil till thick.
  3. Let it stand till cold then add the creamed marg and sugar and some vanilla essence and beat for a few minutes.

Sago Plum Pudding

2 breakfast cups breadcrumbs
1 breakfast cup sugar
4 tbsp fine sago/tapioca
1 pint milk
1 oz butter
1 cup stoned rasins
rind 1 lemon

  1. Steep sago in milk for 1 hour.
  2. Mix all other ingredients, and lastly 1 tsp bicarb of soda in 1 tbsp milk.
  3. Pour in a well-buttered mould.
  4. Steam for 2 ½ hours.

Lemon Pudding

1 cup SR flour
1 cup breadcrumbs
1 cup sugar
½ cup grated suet
juice 2 lemons, rind of 1
1 egg

  1. Mix all ingredients together.
  2. Put in greased pudding basin.
  3. Steam for 2 ½ hours.

What Happened in Manchester during the period?

The second world war (1939-45) made extraordinary demands on people living and working in the north of England.

During the Second World War, Hitler's armed forces tried to bomb and starve the British people into submission. In his first speech as Prime Minister, Winston Churchill famously promised, 'nothing * but blood, toil, tears and sweat', as the Nation galvanised itself for war. British industry, much of it in the north, was totally mobilized for the war effort. When he later toured major cities such as Liverpool and Manchester, Churchill described it as 'like going out * onto the bridge of a fighting ship'.

The first parachute training school was established at Manchester's civil airport, Ringway, and many of the men trained there were later parachuted into Normandy on D-Day in 1944.

On 20 June 1940 sirens signalled the first air-raid over Manchester, and the first bombs dropped in the area landed on Salford on July 29th, 1940. The Manchester Blitz began in earnest on the night of 22 December 1940. Over 100 German aircraft dropped 272 tons of high explosive and 1,032 canisters of incendiary bombs. The city centre was soon alight and the glow from the massive fires could be seen for miles around. The first attack was followed by another massive air raid on the night of 23/24 December, when 171 aircraft dropped 195 tons of high explosive and 893 canisters of incendiaries. A total of 363 people lost their lives during the air raids, and 455 were seriously injured, whilst a further 728 casualties were treated in hospital for less serious wounds and thousands were left homeless.


The V-1, known as the Flying Bomb or Doodlebug, was the first modern guided missile used in wartime. Its characteristic buzzing sound caused considerable fear, and people would listen for the missile approaching, but then be relieved when it could be heard overhead as that meant it had actually passed them. If the engine noise cut out, it was time to take cover, as the unpowered missile was then on its terminal dive and about to explode. In the early hours of Christmas Eve 1944, German bombers flying over the North Sea launched V1 flying bombs, aiming them at Manchester. Most missed the city, and one landed at 5.50am on a terrace of houses in nearby Oldham. It killed 37 people, including some evacuees from London, seriously injuring 67 people and damaging hundreds of homes.


'Careless talk costs lives' was one of the most telling Government messages of the Second World War * you never knew if a spy might be in your midst. On 18 August 1942, a British merchant seaman, Duncan Scott-Ford, was arrested at Salford Docks and charged with spying. He had been recruited by the Germans in Lisbon, and was accused of 'intent to help the enemy'. He was tried and hanged a few months later.

Migration and Manchester

During the late 1940s, 1950s and 1960s migration to Britain from the Caribbean greatly increased. Many families and individuals began new lives in Manchester. Although it was not the start of migration from the former British colonies in the Caribbean to Britain, it was from this date that people began to migrate to Britain in such large numbers.

Between 1945 and 1958 125, 000 people migrated from the Caribbean to live in Britain. Most settled in cities like Manchester.

Deciding to move away from home to a country thousands of miles away must have been a difficult decision. So why did people do it? There are good economic and historical reasons why so many chose to migrate from the Caribbean to Britain.

Many Caribbean islands are still members of the British Commonwealth. They were once part of the British Empire, and still felt a strong bond to the ‘Mother Country’. As subjects of the Empire, people from islands such as Jamaica, Barbados, Trinidad, Tobago and many others were British subjects and holders of British passports. They were taught British history at school and considered Britain to be their ‘second home’.

Many Caribbean men volunteered and fought as British troops during both World Wars. After World War II Britain needed help to rebuild. Moving to Britain offered the chance of a more comfortable future for those who were willing to help the ‘Mother Country’.

For many people the move to Britain was never intended to be a permanent one. Most people planned to return home after five years but the reality for many was that they settled and raised their families here. Many of the first immigrants made the journey alone leaving wives, husbands and children back home. They would be joined later when they had found work or a place to stay. Some families were reunited as planned but there were a great many others who never saw each other again.

The move to Britain was a shock to people used to the Caribbean climate and way of life. Many were unprepared for the cold weather, the pace of life in the city and the racism or discrimination they encountered in their daily lives. Many felt let down that they had been invited here by the British Government and yet when they arrived they were made to feel unwelcome and faced a struggle to establish themselves.

In time, those who stayed in Britain adjusted to life here and most feel that they made an important contribution to national life.

What Did Things Look Like in the 40s and 50s?



How Will the 40s be Represented at the 7 Ages of Manchester?

This year IWM North will be promoting 2 new arrivals:

New major exhibition:

The Story of Bomber Command in the Second World War. Special Exhibitions Gallery Saturday 27 May 2007 - Sunday 7 January 2007.

This exhibition tells the extraordinary story of Bomber Command, featuring the experiences of air and ground crew, as well as WAAFs and aircraft factory workers from Trafford Park. Hear about the preparation behind the plans, the essential ground crew who helped make the operations possible, the aircraft and the experiences of those who flew in them. Join us for a family fun weekend of hands-on activities, craft workshops and brass band performances, linked to this special exhibition on Sunday 27th and Monday 28th August.

The pilot and co-pilot in the cockpit of a Wellington bomber

The Royal Air Force: The pilot and co-pilot in the cockpit of a Wellington bomber. By Cecil Beaton.


Royal Air Force bomber crew plotting a course on a map before a raid

THE ROYAL AIR FORCE IN BRITAIN, 1941. Royal Air Force bomber crew plotting a course on a map before a raid. Copyright IMPERIAL WAR MUSEUM


New Big Picture Show:

Main Exhibition Space 12pm & 3pm daily from January. As part of IWM North's commitment to showing Imperial War Museum's unrivalled collections in new ways, another Big Picture show is being developed to open in January 2006. The award-winning Big Picture is a 360° audio-visual experience and a unique way for visitors to access the Museum's world-renowned collections of photography, art and sound. Continually changing images are projected onto the gallery walls, floor and visitors themselves creating a total, 'immersive' environment. The images are accompanied by music, sounds and reminiscences from the oral history archives, to create unforgettable shows on the themes of The War At Home, Weapons of War and Children and War. These shows, using 60 projectors and over 1500 images run for around 15 minutes every hour. The War At Home explores the experiences of people living at home during the Second World War, opening up yet more of the Museum's collections and covering experiences such as family separation, preparing for war, how people pitched in to help the war effort, changes in the workplace and the Blitz.

Throughout the day there will events and activities to try out * including the Ration Book quiz, handling artifacts and learning to jive! Great giveaways too!

Where Can I Find Out More About the 40s?

The Imperial War Mueseum North
Find more information here,
or alternatively

Quiz Answers

  1. Women's Auxiliary Air Force
  2. A beautiful stained glass window depicting a burning Manchester (images of which are featured in 'The War at Home' Big Picture Show)
  3. 1954

You can find the questions here…