Families in Wartime Manchester: A New Look at the World War II British Home Front
Mosteller, Benjamin Townsend
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The World War II British home front has garnered a considerable amount of attention from historians. Most of these works, though, center on class struggles, morale, and women's roles, and they are mostly concerned with London. This paper addresses the historiographical gaps by concentrating on family life during the war in the industrial city of Manchester. Drawing largely from newspaper and personal memoir sources, it concludes that family members in wartime Manchester were able to maintain their sense of their familial roles in the midst of chaos, bombings and separation. Children were obedient and loyal citizens, donating to scrap metal campaigns and working in fields. Mothers, while many had new responsibilities in the workforce, continued to care for their children and perform domestic duties. Fathers, though their sense of their manhood was jeopardized by not fighting in the armed services, still maintained a protective role by building shelters for their families and fighting fires. All the while, families aided in the war effort while being bombed out of their homes and living in shelters. Using the family as an analytical framework allows us to see how an important fabric of society lived and died throughout the war.