Life on the Home Front

The D-Day Museum is not simply a 'military' museum, but also covers an important part of Britain's social history in the 20th century. The Museum shows how in a 'total war' the whole population was involved in the struggle.

Civilians were in the front line when the Blitz began in 1940. There were 67 major bombing raids on Portsmouth between 1940 and 1944, and 930 civilians and many Service personnel were killed in the city.

The Museum illustrates how the war affected the lives of everyone, including children, and the exhibition features material on evacuation, rationing and the Blitz, an Anderson shelter, gas masks, ARP equipment and German bombs.

There are also displays on the vital role the Home Front played in the build-up to D-Day in 1943-44, preparing the equipment and supplies needed for the assault on Hitler's 'Fortress Europe'.

The D-Day Museum especially recognises the enormous contribution women made to victory in World War II - in the Services, in factories, shipyards and transport, on the land, in nursing and civil defence, and in the home.

Women at War

Women readily took up important jobs vacated by the men who had been called to arms. In addition to maintaining vital communications, women were found in strength in key civil defence operations, auxiliary fire-fighting and medical service. They were also to provide organised help where none had previously existed.

Tanks, planes, munitions and other crucial war production continued. Land Army girls went to work on the farms producing much needed food to feed the country. Gas attacks were expected, and gas masks had to be carried everywhere. During the Battle of Britain, RAF Spitfires and Hurricanes took to the skies to engage raiders in the struggle for command of the air, the loss of which forced Hitler to abandon his plans to invade England. The battle was directed from operations rooms where women of the Women's Auxiliary Air Force aided by the observer corps plotted the position of aircraft on a large scale map.