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photos of WWII medals and documents.

Welcome to Clarington Public Library’s World War II Story Sharing blog.

The world has changed drastically in the past 65 years since the war ended.  It is easy to focus on the efforts of soldiers on the frontlines and forget about the families and communities that made up the homefront.  However, the homefront played just as important a role during the war.  Life was drastically different for those at home compared to the battlelines.  Food, clothing and supplies were rationed and many had to learn to ‘do without’.  There were air raids to contend and threats of gas attacks yet life still continued around this chaos.

In an effort to capture valuable memories and events from those who lived through the war years, we are holding open interview sessions with the community to talk about their experiences.  Sessions are filmed with a camera and attendees are encouraged to share personal recollections and memorabilia to be photographed and added to our blog.  Please visit frequently as more video clips will be posted shortly.  Feel free to browse our pages with photos, video and memorabilia using the tabs at the top of the homepage.  We thank all participants in this program and look forward to sharing this valuable resource with the community.  Should you or someone you know wish to be involved, please contact us at 905-623-7322 X 731 to learn more.

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On Thursday November 11th, residents of Clarington gathered on Temperance Street, just outside of City Hall to commemorate the fallen.

 

  

 

 

 

The Last Post and The Rouse

Quote from cenotaph in Bowmanville on Temperance Street –

They gave their today for our tomorrow

November 11, 1918 marked the official end of World War I.  Since then, every November 11th has been recognized as Remembrance Day (Memorial Day) and is observed in Commonwealth countries.  During the 11th month of the 11th day at 11am, people across the world are asked to observe a moment of silence for fallen soldiers.

Since 1921, the Poppy has been a symbol of Remembrance.  You may find many Canadians wearing artificial poppies on sweaters and coats. 

 

Canadian surgeon and soldier, John McCrae wrote In Flanders Fields after losing friend, Lt Alexis Helmer.  During World War I, bombings throughout Europe caused soil to turn and thick clusters of red poppies bloomed freely.  Today in Canada, artificial poppies are sold by the Royal Canadian Legion. Money raised in the two weeks leading to Remembrance Day provides support to Canadian veterans and their dependants.

To learn more, please visit  –

The Royal Canadian Legion

The Poppy Campaign

John McCrae

The war years brought about an influence in the music scene and highlighed Jazz and Big Band music.  Pre-war period sound was introduced in cinema and musicals but during World War II, music was becoming mass distributed and many households that did not previously have radios now had access to music and news.  Check out this playlist of WWII music.  New dances were also created to reflect this new up-tempo beat.  High energy dances such as the Lindy Dance could be seen in movies such as Hellzapoppin –

 

Other high energy tunes include –

Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy by the Andrews Sisters

Straighten Up and Fly Right by Nat King Cole

One of the most popular songs during the war years is the White Cliffs of Dover.

(Words by Nat Burton, music by Walter Kent, 1941)
There’ll be bluebirds over
The white cliffs of Dover,
Tomorrow
Just you wait and see.

There’ll be joy and laughter
And peace ever after,
Tomorrow
When the world is free,

The shepherd will count his sheep
The valleys will bloom again,
And Jimmy will go to sleep
In his own little room again,

There’ll be bluebirds over
The white cliffs of Dover,
Tomorrow
Just you wait and see.

You can listen to the Vera Lynn’s version here.

Other popular songs include

We’ll Meet Again by Vera Lynn

As Time Goes By by Jimmy Durante

Be sure to head over to the Wartime Memorabilia section to look at some of the items members of the community have recently shared!

photo of a letter from the War OfficeA library staff member, Stephanie W., brought in some of the documents saved by her father, Thomas “Tommy” Hannah.  Photos of his Record of Service, a letter he received from the Supreme Headquarters of the Allied Expeditionary Force, and a letter sent to his family informing them that he had been injured can all be viewed in the Wartime Memorabilia section.

Also be sure to check out some of the artifacts the storytellers have shared!

photo of Defence Medal from the Home Secretary.

Deborah K. brought in the Defence Medal her father received from the Home Secretary, along with the air raid precaution card that was given to her father.  To listen to her recalling the card and other air raid precautions, please see the video “Preparing for Air Raids” in the Homefront Memories section.

Harry K. shared a book regarding occupied Holland.  The image on the cover shows a 12-year-old Harry watching German soldiers.

If you have any wartime memorabilia or memories that you would like to share, the Clarington Public Library would love to hear from you.  Please contact us at info@clarington-library.on.ca or 905-623-7322.

Propaganda

Propaganda was often used to spread ideas, influence and boost morale or sway popular opinion during the war.   Rosie the Riveter is one of the most recognizable characters used to represent a strong, capable patriotic woman.  When men left the cities to fight in the war, jobs opened up to women, especially as factory workers.  Despite lower pay and criticism, women proved they were just as capable as men. 

poster of Rosie the Riveter.

Rosie the Riveter - We can do it (www.archives.gov)

 

Propaganda was also used to demonize the enemy and appeal to your emotions and viewpoint of Axis powers.  The government used posters such as this to create negative stereotypes against Japanese and German citizens.  Unfortunately, it also caused much mistrust towards loyal Japanese American and German American people.

poster from WWII.

Keep these hands off (www.archives.gov)

 

 Racial prejudice was present during the war so the government made efforts to promote inclusion in their propaganda posters. 

united we win world war two poster.

United We Win (www.archives.gov)

 

Visit The National Archives Power of Persuasion website for more poster art. 

Rationing

photo of WWII ration book.Rationing occurred during the war, worldwide.  The main purpose was to funnel supplies to soldiers in the war and control resources such as fuel for planes and tanks, food to feed soldiers, steel for armaments, and fabric to make uniforms.  Rationing also allowed resources to be distributed equally and prevented hoarding or inflated pricing.  To create an equitable system for rationing, ration books were distributed to the public, each containing coupons with rules and limits on using the coupons.

 

(Salads from your Victory Garden image from www.recipecurio.com)

Because of the food rationing, many families were encouraged to grow “victory gardens”.  They were fruit, vegetable and herb gardens grown on public property to help ease the pressure of public demand.  New recipes and ideas were published to support this new frugal way of living.

Other ways to work around food shortages included finding alternative food choices or cooking methods.

More information on rationing in the UK can be found at WWII Food Rationing by Mandy Barrow.

Rationing was also a familiar propaganda topic.

 

 

photo of morrison shelter

A Morrison shelter (www.iwmcollections.org.uk)

Most air raids happened at night and enemy aircraft would drop bombs on different parts of cities and towns.  To warn people of an incoming attack, air raid sirens would be used.  This piercing sound alerted families to head for shelter.  To listen to what these air raid sirens sounded like and see a selection of photos of war-torn Britain, you can view this video clip.

Some shelters were given to families by the government and others could be purchased for those who had the money to do so.  There were two main types of air-raid shelters in England – the Anderson shelter and the Morrison shelter.

Anderson shelters were made from corrugated iron and could hold up to six people.  They were buried in the ground and available for free to those in a certain income bracket.

photo of london underground as an air raid shelter.

An air raid shelter in a London Underground station (www.iwmcollections.org.uk)

Underground train stations (or tube stations) were also used for shelter.  Chemical toilet facilities and bunks were installed to accommodate thousands of people.

Morrison shelters were indoor units and put together inside the home.  They were designed to withstand falling debris and had wire mesh sides and a steel tabletop.

More information regarding shelters can be found here.

Since cities and towns could be easily spotted in the evening, officials would enforce a “blackout”, requiring all citizens to cover up their windows and doors with heavy cardboard, curtains or paint, ensuring no light was showing.


“Preparing for Air Raids” includes memories of air raid precaution cards, covering your windows with black-out curtains or paper, and the types of air raid shelters people had in their homes.


“Living through Air Raids” includes memories of the air raid sirens, singing songs with classmates during an air raid at school, and huddled in a Morrison shelter at home.