PhD Thesis: Conclusion

Sixty years after the end of the Second World War, there is still a huge amount of historical interest in all aspects of the conflict. Much of it is populist material surrounded by myth, with much academic material debunking those myths. Within this literature and museumisation, propaganda continues to attract interest, and it is within this field that this project is offered. Despite a wide range of studies on propaganda, there has been no serious academic study on British home front posters from the Second World War. Most general poster studies jump the era as though unworthy of consideration. This study claims that they are worthy of consideration. Popularly, people have been interested in the project and have been able to contribute via the questionnaire and website. Academically, posters have proved worthy of deeper consideration, demonstrating that such posters were not produced in a cultural vacuum, but were drawing on longer term discourses. The questionnaire respondents held differing opinions as to the usefulness of wartime posters: a ‘necessity’ that helped people ‘pull together’;[1] a force for ‘positive motivation’ for a boy and his parents;[2] to just being ‘part of the scenery’.[3] Within this project we have clearly demonstrated that the Second World War Home Front propaganda posters were an important part of the home front war effort. The posters visibly drew on longer term discourses, or as Huxley termed it in the 1930s, canalised ‘an existing stream’. This has been achieved using a range of archival sources, and a key theoretical underpinning.

Within the project, we investigated Foucault’s concepts of discourse analysis, which promoted the idea of the visual as a form of language. As with all types of language, the visual draws on the norms and assumptions of an established culture, and this is clearly demonstrated as the posters draw on established traditions, both in style and content. The methodological chapter established that silences and differences are concealed by dominant discourse in a move to present the ‘truth’. Propaganda cannot afford to present competing views, although in a democracy at least the illusion of choice needed to be presented, hence the submergence of legal discourses. Within discourses of citizenship, it was expected that technologies of the self would come into play, with citizens working within self-set restrictions. Texts and images have constructed (historically) specific views of the social world, presented as real and truthful. These revealed assumptions held by the designers, both government and artists, about (and by) their audience. The thesis demonstrates that poster images were not objective images produced in a vacuum, but produced from certain contexts, or longer term discourses that were drawn on to provide a cohesive picture of national effort. The chapter also discussed content analysis, which is used in the database. This was one of the first databases to be used for visual material, rather than data such as censuses.[4] Visual databases are now gaining credence within the historical field, but at the start of this project were not in existence. The database was of key importance to the thesis, as such collated data did not exist elsewhere, although throughout the course of the project digital archives have increased the possibility of accessing such information.[5]

Foucault’s concepts of discourse provided the framework for the thesis. Discourse analysis focuses on how knowledge is constructed subjectively; how it is produced and structured, largely through institutions; and considers the implicit assumptions underlying knowledge. Identifying different discourses, we can see which is the more dominant, and where discourses compete with and compliment each other. As a history project (rather than an art project) where the context is key, discourse analysis allowed us to investigate both the images and their context. As the site of production is as important, if not more so, than the images themselves, it has been important to tie the discourses to the producing institutions. As Rose outlined, the main weakness of Foucauldian discourse analysis is that it can be difficult to know where to stop setting the context, and at times the image becomes ignored as the context is focused on. Within the case studies, a concerted effort was made to link the contextual planning information to the posters being discussed in the design and reception sections, identifying the aspects of the key discourses.[6]

These weaknesses meant that the method of discourse analysis was not used alone. A combination of the database and discourse analysis allowed key themes to be identified across a wide range of posters, produced over a long time-frame, although definitive conclusions cannot be drawn without access to all of the thousands of posters produced throughout the war. The method allowed not only the identification of strands and clusters of overlapping information, but also missing themes and silences. For instance, urban and industrial areas were represented as clean, with dirt and smoke absent, even within bomb damaged areas; poverty was absent from rural areas; the enemy was usually represented by Hitler, rather than the Hun evident in the First World War; and VD in posters was always presented as a matter of health, rather than as a matter of sex. Content analysis does reduce the rich visual material to a set of codes which cannot distinguish between good and bad examples of a particular code, and so the overall impression of the image is lost. Within the case studies, however, having extracted the pertinent images from the database, discourse analysis is applied and a more complete picture of the images appears. A prominent methodological approach to images is semiotic analysis, but with such a strong focus on the composition of the image itself,[7] as a method it scarcely accounts for the historical or social context. The combination of discourse and content analyses has allowed the coverage of a wide range of images, fixing them within their historical context.

Before the case studies, two chapters set the context and general understanding of the posters, through a study of propaganda theories, historical poster styles, and the Ministry of Information’s (MOI) production processes. In Chapter 2, contemporary models of propaganda were considered. Having reflected on these, the project’s model of how posters worked within the British Second World War democratic propaganda effort is illustrated in Appendix 5. Here we see how the government had to react to events, and the interaction it had with various outside organisations. In the production of posters the government worked within restrictions, including the availability of talent, paper, ink and printing presses. The government made decisions whether to produce posters, and/or use other propaganda, and whether to use legislation as well or instead. If posters were produced, they were not working alone. As with the multi-step model, we see some of the influences on the viewer. The viewer would then make a decision as to whether to take the required action or not. If not, the government would then have to make decisions as to what further measures to take, potentially legislation, such as internment to lessen the danger of spying by foreign nationals to their home nation.

Chapter 2 also studied the various art movements that impacted on the wartime graphic designers. As evident from the artist biographies in Volume 2, Part 2, British poster designers used such a wide variety of styles that it can be difficult to identify a distinctive British poster style. Some artists were members of the Royal Academy, some were trained graphic designers, some were a combination, and some were neither. What does emerge in this chapter is that the dominant British style was one of pragmatic functionalism. Tradition was still the dominant style, but modernism, was also clearly evident, influenced by, but never going to the extremes of, European modernism. The two most obvious extremes of this are the very traditional work of Frank Newbould, and the very modern work of Abram Games, both of whom worked for the War Office in the Second World War. Increasing professionalism in the advertising industry meant that not only was there standardisation in poster sizing and display, but standardisation in technique was more common, with cleaner, less crowded designs, with a clear purpose. British graphic design, alongside international graphic design, was discussed on a regular basis in the interwar years in Advertiser’s Week and Art and Industry, and Chapter 2 highlights the European art movements that influenced British graphic design. With an emphasis on content over style, such knowledge had even filtered into the general populace who designed their own posters for specific purposes within the war.

The conventional wisdom was that posters were exhortations until Bracken was in charge of the MOI. Questionnaire respondents provided a fairly consensual opinion: ‘the posters were necessary common sense directives’,[8] and ‘they were a necessary national effort; nothing whatever to do with the life of a schoolboy’.[9] Throughout the thesis we see an emphasis on the variety of poster styles used to get the message across: the extremes of modernism and tradition in the urban and rural campaigns; the influence of the Soviet style in the industrial posters; the use of both humour and horror in the careless talk campaigns to ensure lack of boredom and achieve the widest audience; and the use of photography in the VD campaigns. When posters were objected to, it appears to be on grounds of the message, rather than the style.[10] Unlike German and Soviet posters, where styles were imposed from above, the British were happy to follow a laissez-faire approach: so long as the message was getting across, any style was acceptable. In a democracy, fighting a ‘people’s war’, those in positions of power had to have confidence that artists already knew the right thing to do, and trust their judgement as to the style used, rather than imposing a recognisable style.

Having recognised the importance of the MOI in the First World War, following the interwar professionalisation of the publicity industry, the MOI reformed immediately on the commencement of the Second World War. As it was not key to the project, the structure of the MOI has not been researched in depth, but it is clear that chaos was caused as departments constantly changed.[11] Chapter 3 concentrated specifically on the poster producing division which, although also affected by changes within the general MOI structure, was one of the more consistent divisions. There were procedures in place, although the MOI had to both work with, and fight against, other departments that had developed in the interwar years, and specifically with the Treasury. Pragmatically, the MOI at times had to play speed against quality in preparation, and against a lack of freely available artists, at least until some were recalled in June 1942. To understand how posters worked, and to set the scene for the case studies, we examined the production of the first posters produced in the war. Throughout the war there was evidence of stronger co-ordination, more professionalism, faster production, and more cohesion, although there remained a lack of imposition of style from above. Public opinion was important, and complying with government legislation regarding posters was regarded as necessary in order not to affect the effectiveness of the message.

Initial plans were to abandon the MOI the day after Armistice with Germany, but the MOI argued that they had a role to play, at least throughout the war against Japan.[12] The MOI provided a central organ of government publicity, not only technical but creative. As the Director General put in the latter part of the war, ‘I believe also that no Government after the war will either be able or expected to abandon the use of publicity in its approach to its own citizens’, although whether this would be through a central agency was a different matter.[13] Bracken was convinced that the MOI should be dissolved as soon as the war ended;[14] it had, after all, been set up as a wartime organisation. A lot of press comment was also unfavourable, but The Newspaper World put forward the ‘advantages of preserving certain features’ of the MOI, particularly the ‘projection of Britain’ overseas, and the centralisation of specialised publicity services.[15] Others also felt that there were lessons to be learnt from the First World War, when the MOI had disbanded so quickly: ‘What we learned in the last war, and which our enemies made the most of, we have pooh-poohed and bungled.’[16] They felt that it still had much to do, including the re-education of Germany, the presentation of the UK’s case abroad, and that the study of propaganda techniques, and their advancement through the study of other methods, was necessary in order to keep democracy alive.[17] In April 1946, the MOI was absorbed into the Central Office of Information (COI):

envisaged as a common service technical agency, charged with handling contractual questions, booking advertising space, and co-ordinating departmental campaigns. Responsibility for the initiation of publicity schemes, the formulation of policy, and the preparation of materials was assigned to each individual ministry.[18]

The COI remains the central government information agency to this day.

In the mini case study at the end of Chapter 3, we examined the first posters produced by the MOI. In discussions over the first poster, it was expected that the poster would draw heavily on the past, in cases where the British had defended themselves, for instance by depicting medieval bowmen. In the event, the first series of posters was in the style of a proclamation, a ‘dignified’, traditional typographic design that was expected to work with a democratic monarchy.[19] These initial posters called people to patriotically do their part in the war, in the name of the monarchy, similar to the First World War. In the First World War people had been asked (or ordered) to do something by their superiors, whereas in the Second World War people were more clearly subject to self-regulation, both by themselves and by their peers, and it became clear that the message needed to change. Those in the factories were contributing as much as those in the front line and solidarity was stressed, and the ‘enemy within’ needed to be dealt with by pulling together towards the common target. The four main case studies – urban and rural representations of Britain, industrial propaganda, the ‘enemy within’ and VD posters – were examined via the key contradictory and complimentary discourses that became evident in the process of writing. The body and the land are always crucial in war: the land that is being fought for, or defended, and the need for healthy bodies to fight, as other bodies are decimated in the process of war. The first case study examined what people were fighting for, and identified their ‘imagined community’ (in the words of Benedict Anderson). The second case study emphasised the idea of the island nation, and identified those involved in the industrial effort. The third case study examined who was excluded from, or was considered damaging to, the war effort, with the fourth case study exploring in detail who was compromising the effort through their sexual and moral behaviour. This was a people’s war, and throughout the thesis, we see how contributions were expected from all citizens.

Posters are intended for a mass audience and as such were perfectly suited for a people’s war, with a significant style change from the First World War. The Second World War was expected largely to be a ‘war of nerves’, with a lot more strain on, and much wider participation by, the civilian population. Poster propaganda was expected to appeal to comradeship and have a popular appeal. The posters, still remembered many years after the war, were consistent with this construction of the myth of pulling together, which has been questioned by some.[20] Throughout the thesis the notion of ‘the people’s war’, both a contemporary concept, and popularised since the war through Calder’s 1969 book,[21] is a consistent theme. The sources used are consistent with the idea of the people’s war. BIPO looked for the (statistic) collective effort, Mass-Observation investigated the masses but concentrated on individuals within that, and the questionnaire looked for individual remembered responses to the posters.

The idea of responsible citizenship is bound up with the concepts of mass democracy. Citizens had both rights and responsibilities, and propaganda in a democracy had to work in a different way to how it worked within a totalitarian state. Presented as information, advertising looked for conformity with its message, but did not enforce it. There was room for individual effort within the greater picture, as all were still aiming for the same overall goal. Particularly within the industrial effort, each personal endeavour contributed to the whole. Similarly, lack of individual effort: for example those who risked venereal disease (VD), could damage the health of the nation, both literally and metaphorically. Citizenship, as the most highly visible discourse in the Second World War, looked for people to contribute to the war effort; if they did not contribute then they were stigmatised as ‘not belonging’, they were not ‘normal’. Throughout the case studies we see a series of duties for the ‘good’ citizen to commit to: the first poster was a statement of duty for the individual citizen, from the King; the Army Bureau of Current Affairs (ABCA) posters appealed to the citizen soldier, looking for sacrifice; strikers within industry were viewed as committing treason; and patriotic citizens needed to ensure that their conversations were of no use to the enemy, and needed to be fit and healthy in order to fight. Along with these duties were certain rights, such as the right to civil liberties: and ID cards were not introduced until the Second World War. The right to strike still existed, and with a loss of pre-war deference, and without fear of imprisonment, these increased. We have noted that there were few legal constraints on wartime citizens, partly through pragmatism, with more emphasis placed on duties rather than restrictions. Voluntarism was key as factories lost their profit motive (although they had little choice in this, needing to take government contracts), poster display sites were offered free, local campaigns supported the national effort, and artists accepted lower pay whilst working for the MOI because they wanted to ‘do their bit’. The posters were important disseminating these messages.

Deciding their strategy for how they were going to deal with particular campaigns, the government looked to that past to see how things had been dealt with in preceding years. The MOI was built upon the ideas used in the First World War, and in dealing with spies, the First World War and the Spanish Civil War were heavily examined, although it appears that spy novels also had a part to play. Posters drew on historical discourses to present their message, not only by drawing on traditions of ‘high art’, but in the messages themselves. Newbould drew on the landscape tradition stylewise, drawing upon previous artists such as Constable, but also subject-wise, depicting the heritage vision of ‘England’s green and pleasant land’, in a similar way to how suburban houses drew on mock Tudor ideals. The rural was clearly associated with the past, and particularly with the Conservatives, and Baldwinism. The countryside was associated with something stable and long-lasting, with life itself as food could be grown, and particularly with the South, with the ‘English village’ giving a sense of community For the urban dweller, the countryside was associated with holiday labour, essentially manual work. The countryside depicted in posters certainly appears to be unaffected by modern machinery, although preservationist movements popularly associated with tradition were often actually calling for modern methods of land management. Less obviously, churches were central features in images of traditional rural villages, and large churches such as Salisbury Cathedral and – in an urban setting – St Paul’s Cathedral are seen standing, the first amongst lush greenery, the other within the wreckage of a bombed London. Religious and moral discourses are clearly associated with the past and tradition. The war was presented as a case of ‘right over might’: Britain was something that should be saved. One’s own country was something that one should not ‘betray’. Victorian moral values are clearly expressed throughout the case studies, including the protestant work ethic in industry, the secrecy surrounding the subject of VD, and the notion of immoral and antisocial behaviour. The traditional power and authority of the church was transferred to propaganda messages, with religious discourses most clearly evident in the VD campaign, where VD, and the thoughtlessness of those who dared run the risk of transferring it, were evil.

Modernity was presented as a scientific, largely secular belief, and Pick described modern art as ‘morally lax’ when there was no purpose to it.[22] It was associated with the cult of the new, of change, of the importance of the future, rather than the traditions of the past. Modern methods of doing things included increased professionalism, and the idea that things could be planned for. Planning for the MOI started in 1935, and every poster campaign was planned over time, although propaganda was deemed difficult to plan too early as it would be out of date before posted. Although the past was generally associated with the rural effort, and the urban with the future, the industrial revolution was also presented as part of England’s ‘glorious past’, helping to shape the nation. The miner was symbolically central to this effort, who could still, however, be perceived to be making his effort from the land, although his product was largely being used to fuel industrial living. Prostitution and spies were both more closely associated with urban areas than rural areas. Both were activities to be carried out in the shadows, and would have been easier to spot in rural areas. VD was presented as something that should be associated with the Victorian industrial past, not with a bright, clean, new scientific future. Those who risked VD risked the future of their families, constructed as the future of the nation as a whole.

The UK had traditionally been presented as an island nation, with a proud naval tradition. In the Second World War the technologically advanced airborne enemy was to be more feared, and industrially prepared for. The industrial effort was particularly associated with the North, the dirty ‘world’s workshop’, although many of the factories involved in the war effort were consumer factories based in the South. Much of the modern war effort depended on industrial production, and on efficient and professional production, with complicated technological equipment to produce. Modern American interwar studies conducted into time, motion and efficiency were obviously influential, divorcing workers from the final product, and presenting new hazards to be protected from. Other modern ideas, particularly the notion of scientific medicine, were key: the idea of treatment (of VD) rather than simply prevention, which was more of a moral argument. Science and technology were key to the war effort, with key military developments.[23] Not only was the success of the posters judged through ‘scientific’ surveys, particularly through Mass-Observation, but quantified measurement of results was expected. Improvements in photography and communication were down to new technology, and the photographic style gave a realism to messages that the government wanted to get across. Modern propaganda relied on modern methods of communication, which, along with other technology, including the means of travel, had advanced a great deal during the interwar years. The benefits of this were a wide range of communication methods available to government, improvements in graphic design after artists had travelled, professionalisation of the advertising industry and development of the experience of political propaganda, both internally and through external campaigns such as the interwar Empire campaigns. The corollory is that spies, and black propaganda, were also more dangerous as the ‘enemy within’ also had access to these modern communication methods.

Yet the discourses within the thesis are evidently also contradictory. In some eyes urban living was associated with dirt, death and disease, and many saw urban living as a temporary measure before they could return to the ‘real’ Englishman’s home, the rural. Some attempted to recreate rus in urbe, for example in the ‘Dig for Victory’ campaigns. Modern graphic techniques, such as those used by Games, were used to convey the message of a modern future. Dirty heavy industry factories were being replaced in the interwar years by cleaner, more modern factories, and Games’ vision of the old, urban, decaying past to be covered by the progress of the planned urban future developed from this. The future was something to be planned for, urban development was to be properly planned to give everyone a clean, hopeful, fit-for-purpose, future: the ‘New Jerusalem’. Communism, socialism and the Soviets were associated with highly-planned urban economies, Churchill was against planning the post-war world, but by the Second World War, the UK was already a highly planned nation, for example with regular inter-war health promotion campaigns. It is noticeable that if propaganda campaigns were not backed up by well-planned practical arrangements, including recruitment campaigns to industry, those who had responded to the campaigns were annoyed and carried negative associations with the message. In 1945, the Labour Government was elected on a clear manifesto for a planned future, and ‘as usual, the voters showed more signs of reacting against an unpleasant experience in the past than of deliberately embracing a doctrinaire programme for the future.’[24]

Throughout the case studies two key power relations are evident: gender, both masculinity and femininity; and identification of ‘the other’. Within the rural landscape, and even within the industrial setting, women’s work is presented with the potential for glamour: women still retain the aura of femininity. On the land, women are set within picturesque surroundings, encircled by cute animals. In the factories women partake of the lighter work, and many of the posters are more focused on their appearance and dress code than the scope of their work. On both the land and within the factory, the men do the heavy work, although on the land this is largely focused on manual labour, whilst in the factory the men are perceived to deal with the heaviest and most complicated machinery. Within the second pair of case studies, covering the ‘enemy within’ and the anti-VD campaigns, both men and women can be seen in a negative and a positive light. The woman is negatively the gossip, the seducer, full of glamour, although also positively presented as the great mother or the innocent victim of VD. The man is negatively presented as the show-off, the thoughtless carrier of infection, the foolish man, but also positively as the man stolidly (or stoically) keeping his mouth shut, fighting for his country, or wisely keeping clear of infection in order to protect his family.

Throughout the case studies we have seen that the posters sought to identify the good citizen, and thus by default also identified the ‘non-citizen’, ‘the other’ who did not fulfil the criteria of good citizenship. Within an industrial setting the worker who cannot produce the required amount of work, to the required standard, or prevents others from doing the same, is identified as ‘useless’ and outside of normal citizenship. The spy, both internally and externally, is clearly identified, through his or her physical features and behaviour, as ‘the other’, as is the person at danger of passing on VD, particularly the prostitute. Throughout the thesis, the idea of the ‘professional’ is clearly evident, with the ‘non-professional’ as ‘the other’. There were a lot of complaints in the press that the MOI employed more civil servants than it did advertising professionals, although the general public believed that advertising was something that anyone could do. Those in industry needed to be properly trained for the job: the idea of a professional intelligence service had developed in the interwar years, and medical treatment to cure VD was to be given only by trained doctors, rather than ‘quack’ doctors. The idea of training and education was an important development in wartime, and the posters themselves were a form of informal education. The ABCA movement was all about education, and Abram Games’ ‘Your Britain’ poster for ABCA (figure 19) demonstrated a form of official sanction for social reform, which culminated in the Education Act of 1944. It was not only the modernists who held a vision of the benefits of education, however, as evidenced by inter-war campaigns, some of which continued into the Second World War, educating users to respect the countryside, and educating citizens to prevent and treat VD.

The British have a reputation for possessing a distinct laissez-faire attitude, and throughout this thesis we have seen demonstrations of this from the government which support this argument. The government belief, or that of Churchill at least, was that the future be allowed to take care of itself whilst the war was fought. The government refused to force separate publicity departments into the MOI, and there was no imposition of a poster style on artists, unlike in Nazi Germany, or the Soviet Union, a highly planned economy, where the Soviet Realism style was imposed. There was, however, clear evidence of state intervention, and the very fact that the MOI existed demonstrated a government concern with the efforts of their citizens. The MOI gradually became more centralised, becoming the COI at the end of the war, allowing proper balance to be given to campaigns. The state kept a close watch on rumours, issued counter-rumours, and indeed prosecuted people for rumour-mongering and defeatism, and legislation was also considered in the VD campaign. Planning, clearly not laissez-faire, was also evident in looking towards the future, improving conditions for citizens, with health and education all round, but there was also to be protection of the national heritage. Throughout the case studies the discourse of protection constantly appeared. In the first case study the heritage of the UK was to be protected, while in the industrial case study the workers needed to protect themselves, and thus the overall war effort, by avoiding accidents. In the ‘enemy within’ citizens needed to protect themselves from danger, and in the VD case study, citizens needed to protect themselves from disease.

In drawing together the conclusions of this thesis, we have had to be aware of making sweeping statements. The posters of the Second World War evidently drew heavily on longer term discourses emanating from new and established institutions, although there was often a clear distinction between those that drew on the past and tradition, and those that pushed forward to the future. Such is the significance of the discourses identifiable in wartime posters, that the posters continue to resonate with a modern day audience. Vintage wartime posters sell well,[25] and the IWM has a wide-range of reproduction items that appear popular.[26] Some of these items, including postcards and keyrings, are aimed at the ‘pocket-money’ market, and wartime posters are a popular subject for study in primary schools. The IWM produces poster packs aimed at Key Stage 2,[27] and both today,[28] and in wartime,[29] posters are something that children enjoy designing themselves. The posters themselves are sometimes re-used in another context, for example, as on the front cover of books to attract a new audience.[30] In 1999, a wartime Coughs and Sneezes Spread Diseases poster was used on the front-cover of a flu jab leaflet aimed at pensioners who were likely to remember that original.[31] The Constable-influenced ‘Your Britain’ designs by Newbould (figures 14 to 17) have been re-used in protectionist arguments,[32] and the images have been subverted by artists such as Micah Wright. Wright’s images at first glance appear to be the original designs, but on a closer look, the message has been subverted to present an anti-War or an anti-Bush message (see figure 280, subverted from figure 110).[33] It is clear that a great deal of nostalgia still surrounds Second World War posters, yet this thesis, anchors these posters firmly back into their historical context.

[1] Male, London, reply to questionnaire, April, 1998.

[2] Male, Essex, reply to questionnaire, April, 1998.

[3] Male, reply to questionnaire, May, 1998.

[4] Dunning, A., Personal Comment, AHDS Digitisation Workshop, April, 2001.

[5] Throughout this thesis, information technology has contributed in many different ways, allowing access to a wide range of online information, directing attention to sources via online catalogues, and highlighting new texts available.

[6] Rose, G., Visual Methodologies: An Introduction to the Interpretation of Visual Materials, 2001, p.161.

[7] Ibid, pp.69-99.

[8] Male, UK/Serving overseas, reply to questionnaire, April 1998.

[9] Male, H., reply to questionnaire, June 1998, (emphasis in original).

[10] For example, Figure 18 was destroyed by order of Churchill who disliked the representation of the child with rickets, believing that it was a slur on Conservative pre-war policies, rather than on the war that the message was projected. Osley, A., Persuading the People: Government Publicity in the Second World War, 1995, pp.76-7, notes that figure 275 was rejected on the basis that the people in the image did not appear ‘friendly’ enough, with the image changed, the poster was re-released as figure 276. Darracott, J., and Loftus, B. (eds), Second World War Posters, 1972, p.65, alongside many other sources, explained that figure 277 was removed from the hoardings after complaints that the woman depicted was ‘too glamorous’, giving the wrong impression about the ATS. In Anonymous, ‘New A.T.S. Poster Girl Was in Advertising’, Advertiser’s Weekly, Vol. 114, No. 1,484, October 30 1941, p.100, we see how figure 278 replaced the ‘glamorous’ poster, this time depicting Private Mary Catherine Roberts, a real member of the ATS. In Anonymous, ‘Big New A.T.S. Recruit Drive Started Yesterday: Exhibitions All Over Country: New Posters’, Advertiser’s Weekly, Vol. 114, No. 1,486, November 13 1941, p.132, we see that Abram Games designed another, ‘less glamourous’ poster (figure 279), to accompany the realistic poster, depicting a ‘fresh and smiling girl’.

[11] See McLaine, I., Ministry of Morale: Home Front Morale and the Ministry of Information in World War Two, 1979 and Balfour, M., Propaganda in War 1939-45, Organisations, Policies and Publics in Britain and Germany, 1979 for this administrative history.

[12] PRO INF 1/941, ‘The Ministry of Information’, November 1943.

[13] PRO INF 1/941, ‘Memo from Director General to The Minister’, undated, but October 1943-May 1944.

[14] PRO INF 1/76, ‘Notes from Bracken to the Press, 26 June 1944, prior to House of Commons debate on Ministry of Information Civil Estimates, 1944’, 29 June 1944.

[15] PRO INF 1/944, ‘Why Disband M.O.I. After the War? A Case for Continuation Outlined’, The Newspapers World, July 3 1943, pp.2; 10.

[16] Unidentified, 27 March 1941, from a selection of newspaper cuttings, collected by E. Embleton 1939-1946, held at the IWM.

[17] Barmas, J., a letter to Advertiser’s Weekly, undated, Ibid.

[18] Grant, M., Propaganda and the Role of State in Inter-War Britain, 1994, p.250.

[19] PRO INF 1/720, ‘Meeting, Programme of Publicity Measures’, May 16 1939.

[20] Smith, M., Britain and 1940: History, Myth and Popular Memory, 2000 p.1. See also Calder, A., The Myth of the Blitz, 1992, and Ponting, C., 1940: Myth and Reality, 1990.

[21] Calder, A., The People’s War, 1969.

[22] Saler, M.T., The Avant-Garde in Interwar England: Medieval Modernism and the London Underground, 1999, pp.98-99.

[23] For instance, the development of the A-Bomb and RADAR were critical to the military development of the war. See: Badash, L., Hollinger, R., and Shagrin, M.L., Scientists and the Development of Nuclear Weapons: From Fission to the Limited Test Ban Treaty 1939-1963, 1998; Creveld, M., Technology and War: From 2000 BC to the Present, 1991; Devereux, T., Messenger Gods of Battle: Radio-Radar Sonar: the Story of Electronics in War, 1990; McNeill, W.H., The Pursuit of Power: Technology, Armed Force and Society Since AD1000, 1984; Zimmerman, D., Britain’s Shield: Radar and the Defeat of the Luftwaffe, 2001.

[24] Pelling, H., Modern Britain 1885-1955, 1960, pp.154-155.

[25] Some designs may only fetch a few pounds, but others can fetch large sums. For instance, a small copy of figure 3 by Fougasse, advertised for sale by in 2002, for £225-250. Marsh, M. (ed.), Miller’s Price Guide: Collectables 2002/3, 2002, p.237; a double-crown copy of figure 277 by Abram Games, signed by the artist and accompanied by a scrapbook of press-cuttings, was advertised by in Onslow’s Catalogue, September 1989 (Lot. 276), for £1,000-£1,500 (this is now in the IWM); and in Onslow’s Catalogue, April 2002, (Lot 261), a version inscribed ‘to my Poster Girl model herself’, signed by Games in August 1941, was anticipated to fetch £1,500-2,000. See Gleeson, J., Collecting Prints and Posters 1997, pp.92-93 for information on valuation of posters, and factors affecting price, which can include the subject-matter or the artist.

[26] These include reproduction double-crown posters, postcards, playing cards, mugs, keyrings, jigsaws and chocolate bars. These items have remained stock items at the IWM Museum shops for many years, and thus it can be assumed that they sell well. IWM Catalogue.

[27] Imperial War Museum, ‘Key Stage 2 Resources – Poster Pack’,, accessed January 14 2004.

[28] Imperial War Museum, ‘What was it like in the Second World War: Designing a Propaganda Poster’,, accessed January 14 2004.

[29] See, for instance, Anonymous, ‘Public Will Choose Best Schoolboy Poster’, Advertiser’s Weekly, Vol. 113, No. 1,473, August 14 1941, p.124; Anonymous, ‘Poster Artists Praise Children’s Posters’, Advertiser’s Weekly, Vol. 113, No.1,476, September 4 1941; Anonymous, ‘Poster’s Big Part in Safety Weeks’, Advertiser’s Weekly, Vol. 119, No. 1,555, March 1 1943, p.233. A female respondent to the questionnaire also sent me examples of posters that she had designed at school (aged 13-14) during wartime.

[30] See, for instance, Black, J., A History of the British Isles, 1997, which uses a detail from figure 17 and Clark, T., Art and Propaganda, 1997, which uses a detail from figure 151.

[31] Information summarised from Lewis, R., ‘Nostalgia and the Visual Image’, paper presented at Ruskin College, May 2000. See Lewis, R., ‘Nostalgia and the Visual Image’,, accessed January 14 2004, for the full text of this paper.

[32] Baker, C., ‘Tide of anger rises at cliffs’,, written July 18 2000, accessed January 14 2004. The article discusses building of a sea wall to protect the ‘iconic landscape’ of the Seven Sisters and the Birling Gap on the South Downs, idealised by the Arts and Crafts movements of the nineteen-thirties, and depicted in figure 17.

[33] Wright, M., ‘The Propaganda Remix Project’,, accessed January 14 2004. Due to the success of this website, the following books have been published: Wright, M., Back the Attack: Remixed Propaganda Posters, 2003; Wright, M., If You’re not a Terrorist, Then Stop Asking Questions!, 2004.

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