The Fleet proceeds to its war stations. The Royal Navy is much stronger than Germany's. It has eight battleships versus zero for Germany; seven aircraft carriers versus zero; two battle cruisers versus five; 66 cruisers versus six; 100 destroyers versus 17, 67 submarines versus 57; and a merchant fleet five times larger.
1 September 1939
In response to the German invasion of Poland and the prospect of war with Germany, plans for the evacuation of children and nursing and expectant mothers from London and other areas deemed vulnerable to German air attack are put into action.
The first war tax is revealed by the Cabinet, including a significant increase in income taxes.
1 October 1939
Call-Up Proclamation: all men aged 20-21 who have not already done so must apply for registration with the military authorities.
6 October 1939
With the end of formal Polish resistance the Phoney War begins; It lasts until April 1940. There was little military action, although the Allies (Britain and France) began economic warfare, and shut down the German surface raiders. They created elaborate plans for numerous large-scale operations designed to swiftly and decisively cripple the German war effort. These included opening a French-British front in the Balkans; invading Norway to seize control of the Germany's main source of iron ore; and a strike against the Soviet Union, to cut off its supply of oil to Germany. Only the Norway plan came to fruition, and it was too little too late in April 1940.
London schools start to reopen because of evacuee children returning to the capital.
A government poster urging mothers not to bring their evacuated children back to vulnerable urban areas.
35% of London schoolchildren had returned from evacuation.
The German Blitz hits London and other major cities causing death and damage. Official histories concluded that the mental health of a nation may have improved, while panic was a rarity. Prewar dire predictions of mass air-raid neurosis were not borne out. Predictions had underestimated the adaptability and resourcefulness; in addition there were many new civil defense roles that gave a sense of fighting back rather than despair. The highly visible dangerous role gave firemen some of the ideal attributes more commonly associated with the venerated image of the military hero.
7 September 1940
German bombing raid on South London; formal beginning of London Blitz.
The Communist Daily Worker newspaper is banned. It had ignored a July 1940 warning that its pacifist line contravened Defence Regulation 2D, which made it an offence to 'systematically to publish matter calculated to foment opposition to the prosecution of the war'. When Germany invaded Russia in June 1941, the British Communists became fervent supporters of the war and the ban was lifted.
Civilian clothing is rationed for the first time.
18 December 1941
The National Service (No. 2) Act is passed. All men and women aged 18-60 are now liable to some form of national service, including military service for those under 51. The first military registration of 18.5-year-olds takes place. The Schedule of Reserved Occupations is abandoned: from now on only individual deferments from the draft will be accepted.
23 January 1942
First US Army troops arrive in the UK. Disembarking at Belfast, the officers were the advanced party of a force intended to defend Northern Ireland and release British troops for service overseas.
5 March 1942
The Daily Mirror publishes a controversial cartoon by Philip Zec which Churchill and other senior government figures alleged was damaging to public morale. Zec is investigated by MI5 and the government seriously proposes banning the newspaper until parliamentary opposition forces a retreat.
23 April 1942
Beginning of so-called Baedeker Blitz on English provincial towns, mainly chosen for their historic and cultural significance; Exeter, Bath, Canterbury, Lincoln and York along with several coastal towns were targeted. Attacks continue sporadically until 6 June.
1 July 1942
The basic civilian petrol ration was abolished, making fuel unavailable to private car owners.
The Ministry of Labour reports that 1942 strikes cost 1,527,000 working days, as compared with 1,079,000 in 1941.
Civilian rationing: A shopkeeper cancels the coupons in a British housewife's ration book in 1943
18 February 1943
The House of Commons votes, 335 to 119, against a Labour amendment demanding the creation of a Social Security Ministry and immediate implementation of the Beveridge report. The government has approved the plan "in principle" but called for a delay until the war is over.
19 February 1943:
The Labour Party National Executive Committee rejects the Communist Party's application for affiliation saying it must carry out decisions of the Comintern in Moscow, that it has shown "complete irresponsibility in British politics" and because "its general outlook is entirely out of harmony with the philosophy and objectives of the Labour Party."
7 April 1943
The Government releases a White Paper by John Maynard Keynes, announcing its post-war currency stabilization plan designed to provide an international banking system.
12 April 1943
The Chancellor of the Exchequer presents a budget of £5.8 billion with 56% to be raised from current revenue; the deficit would be £2.8 billion of which £2.2 will be borrowed at home.
29 July 1943
A recruitment poster for men to work in coal mining. The shortage of miners was solved from December 1943 by conscripts being chosen by ballot to be Bevin Boys.
Labour Minister Ernest Bevin announces that women from 19 to 50 will be called for work in plane and munitions plants. Men eligible for military service may choose work in coal mines.
23 September 1943
The Ministry of Health reports that 1942 births totaled 654,039 versus 480,137 in 1941; deaths 66,811 versus 55,043. Infant mortality was 49 per 1,000, the lowest on record for Britain.
14 December 1943
The first of 33 fortnightly ballot draws for the compulsory recruitment of men for coal mining, who would otherwise have been conscripted into the Armed Forces. These recruits would become known as "Bevin Boys".
The Labour Party members of the coalition government resign in order to prepare for the upcoming general election. Churchill appoints a largely Conservative caretaker government.
16 June 1945
The Family Allowances Act passed. Mothers will receive a tax-free cash payment for each child in their care. This is the first time in Britain that a state payment has gone directly to a wife rather than her husband.