The Unknown Warriors

The Summer of 1940

The Summer of '69 is often talked about as being a time when society was changing. The era of free love and hippies. But there was another summer in the country just 24 years earlier that was completely different.


Over the skies of England the Battle of Britain was raging, so what was the country like down below that they were defending from invasion. Here are a few facts of what Britain was like at the time.


Population of Great Britain

1940 - 47 million

2011 - 62.5 million

An increase of more than 15 million people in 70 years.


There was not a single motorway. In 1926 when the war veterans were children there was 1,715,000 vehicles registered to drive on British roads. This number had grown to 26,974,000 by 1997, so perhaps 30,000,000 might be a good guess for 2011.


Homosexuality was illegal. It was legalised in a private members bill put forward by Leo Abse, the Sexual Offences Act in 1967 after the Wolfenden report recommended that it was (Scotland 1980) (Northern Ireland 1982). WWII Desert Rat leader, Bernard Montgomery who was sitting in the Lords as a Viscount described it as a 'licence for buggery'. In 1994 Edwina Currie tabled an amendment to bring the age of consent down for 'male homosexual acts' to 16 years old. In 2012 the government were preparing to make it legal for men to marry each other.


Abortion was illegal. It was legalised in the 1967 abortion Act, a private members bill by David Steel and since then an estimated 6 million foetuses in the UK have been terminated.


The BBC estimated the non white population of Britain at the start of WWII as being approximately 7,000 seven thousand HERE. 72 years later and in 2012 the estimated population is 7 million due to mass immigration.


Capital punishment was in place for murder. It was abolished in 1965 after a private members bill by Sydney Silverman. It remains in place in certain countries that were part of the Empire and followed the English legal system such as Singapore.


There was 95% more wildflower meadows, 40% more ancient woodlands, 50% more heathland, 50% more lowland fens, and 40% more hedgerows all of which has been destroyed over the last seven decades in the name of 'progress'.


There was no major mosques in Britain, only a few small ones, some in converted terraced housing in port areas and a small purpose built one, Fazl Mosque in London, 1926. However in October 1940 the War Cabinet set aside some money for land so the small population of muslims in the country could have a central place of worship. The mosque opened in 1944, next to Regents Park, London. In 1961 there was 7 and in 2012 there is an estimated 1,500. The 1951 census, 6 years after post war mass immigration began from Africa and Asia, showed there was less than 22,000 muslims in the UK. In the 2011 census, 60 years later, the number of muslims in the UK was 2.7 million.


In 1930 there was 3 million radio licences, by 1939 this had increased to 9 million. TV licences were introduced in 1940, but by 1945 when transmissions restarted only 25,000 were held in the whole country. It was the coronation of HM the Queen that saw TV sales rocket, in 1953 over 2 million TV licences were issued. HERE


Blasphemy against Christ was illegal, although the last time a man had been jailed for blasphemy had been in 1921. In 1949 Judge, Lord Denning indicated that the law was outdated. In 2008 Liberal Democrat MP Evan Harris campaigned for an amendment to the Criminal Justice and Immigration Bill and MPs voted in favour and the blasphemy law was abolished.


Divorce was less common than it is today, although it was gradually becoming more common since the first divorce was allowed in 1858. Petitions to the divorce courts were five times higher in 1945 than in 1939, a total of 38,000. Just two years later the annual figure had increased to 60,197. According to the Office of National Statistics the number of divorces in 2010 was 119,589


The Houses of Parliament made all British law and oversaw an empire that stretched across the globe. Since joining the EU, more and more sovereignity has been ceded. Since the Lisbon Treaty was signed, about 75% of UK law now originates from Brussels.


Twenty per cent of voters were members of one of the three main parties. The Conservatives alone had approx 3 million members. Membership of political parties never lower. In 2005 Conservative membership was about 177,000. The other two main parties have experienced similar declines.


Crime rates were very low, in the 1930's the annual NATIONAL burgulary rate was about 300 per year. The police recorded 513,559 crimes in 1951, in 2001 they recorded over 5 million.


1913 was the year of peak coal production, a total of 287 million tons. In 1920 there was 1,250,000 miners. In 1999 coal production was at a record low of 34 million tons. In 1998 there was 9,000 people employed as miners.