How will these resources help you?
All this is well-trodden ground and we use plenty of primary-source material to enliven and enrich our lessons. However, there is an underside to the Home Front upon which we rarely, if ever, touch. What about the black market, the 'spivs', the looters and the profiteers? It’s not that we are ignorant to their existence, nor that it is all unsuitable for this age group. It’s not even that there is a lack of age-suitable resources. Rather, there seems to be an unspoken reluctance to prick the patriotic bubble, to cast doubt on the image of the whole nation pulling together as one. This could be one of the received myths we encourage our students to question. I would suggest that, for this age group, the black market would be a good introduction to the darker side of the Home Front, and would tie in with the work they will do on rationing. As well as the resources below, local newspaper archives may prove fruitful for the topic.
A concise introduction
Crime in the Second World War: Spivs, Scoundrels, Rogues and Worse
by Penny Legg, published by Sabrestorm, (2017), 9781781220092
Contextualising the crime
War Crimes: Underworld Britain in the Second World War
by M. J. Trow, published by Pen and Sword Books, (2008), 9781844157280
An Underworld at War: Spivs, Deserters, Racketeers and Civilians in the Second World War
by Donald Thomas, published by John Murray Press, (2004), 9780719563409
Blitz: The Bombs That Changed Britain - Self help during the Blitz
published by BBC, (2017)
Text © Rosemary Rees, 2020.