Appeasement by the British and French was an
attempt to avoid war, and now with appeasement Britain and France
found themselves at war with an expanding and confident Nazi Germany.
In Britain children were evacuated to the countryside
from the cities that were considered potential targets for the
Luftwaffe. There was a very real fear among the politicians and
the general public of air raids, with also the possibility of
attacks using deadly gas. But the enemy air raids did not materialize.
After the declaration of war on Germany, on 3rd
September, 1939, the British public entered into a surreal period
which became known as 'The Phoney War'. While the war raged in
eastern Europe, Britain and France remained surprisingly quiet
although in a state of war.
From the start of the war, until May 1940, Britain
saw more casualties at home due to the blackout than from the
expected air raids. The general public had prepared for air raids
in building shelters and practising air raid drills. The blackouts
helped hide a city at night from the preying eyes of an enemy
air attack, and there were stiff penalties against people who
did not follow the strict rules of the blackout. The Air Raid
Warden became more hated than Hitler, as one chink of light could
reveal the location of a intended target and make it easier for
the enemy to rain its destructive capabilities.
But the feared air attacks did not arrive, and
after a few weeks the strict regulations of the blackout were
relaxed. Theatres and dance halls were reopened to the public
to raise morale, but it would be a short reprieve though as the
storm clouds of war were gathering and would shortly be coming
It was the hope that the events and battles in
the fields of western Europe, that had been recently seen in World
War One, could be avoided and so a the policy of fighting a 'distant
war' against Nazi Germany was implemented.
With the division of Poland
decided between Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union, the Soviet
Union captured the independent Baltic states and then attacked
Finland. The British and French engaged the Germans in Norway
in the hope of keeping the war away from their respective homelands.
By defeating the Germans in Norway it would hinder their supply
of iron ore that they obtained from neutral Sweden, which was
used for their war machine. Also by defeating the Germans in Norway
could create a platform for the Allies to help Finland in their
struggle against the Soviet Union.
On 20th January 1940, the First Lord of the Admiralty,
Winston Churchill made a radio broadcast from London. The broadcast
informed the nation of the 'War Situation' after the first five
months of the conflict. He end the broadcast with : "The
day will come when the joybells will ring again throughout Europe,
and when victorious nations, masters not only of their foes but
of themselves, will plan and build in justice, in tradition, and
in freedom a house of many mansions where there will be room for