Second World War Posters

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KS3- 4

Use these sources to understand more about propaganda poster campaigns, and the artists behind them, during the Second World War.

1. What were people encouraged to do with their clothes?

  • Make Do and Mend

    Go Through Your Wardrobe – Make-Do And Mend
    Art.IWM PST 4773

    Clothes rationing was introduced by the British Government in June 1941. It was essential raw materials were not wasted as factories were utilised for the production of weapons. The Make Do and Mend campaign was launched by the Board of Trade in 1942. This poster was illustrated by Donia Nachsen to encourage people to repair their clothes and make use with clothing they already had.

  • Donate rags

    Still More Rags Wanted For Salvage
    Still More Rags Wanted For Salvage
    Art.IWM PST 14752

    The artist John Gilroy has featured a dustman leading a figure made of rags for recycling. This poster was designed in 1943 to encourage people to give any fabric material to the rag collector for salvage. Rag could be used to make uniforms and blankets for soldiers.

2. What were people encouraged to do with their food?

  • Grow their own

    Plan And Grow For Winter
    Plan And Grow For Winter
    Art.IWM PST 16992

    In 1939 Britain was reliant on cheap imports of food from overseas, and only 30 per cent of food was home-produced. The introduction of rationing by the Ministry of Food was therefore inevitable in January 1940 and families were encouraged to grow their own. By 1943 there were over 1.4 million allotments, producing over a million tons of vegetables that year.
     

  • Eat in moderation

    A Clear Plate Means a Clear Conscience – Don’t Take More Thank You Can Eat
    A Clear Plate Means a Clear Conscience – Don’t Take More Thank You Can Eat
    Art.IWM PST 2814

    The need to change the public’s attitude towards waste and portion size was very important when food supply was limited. People were encouraged not to waste food or to take more than they needed. In this poster James Fitton captures the positive message of austerity that the Ministry of Food were keen to promote.
     

  • Drink milk

    Milk – The Backbone Of Young Britain
    Milk – The Backbone Of Young Britain
    Art.IWM PST 4944

    Illustrated by James Fitton for the Ministry of Food, c. 1942. Increasing calcium intake amongst vulnerable sections of British society was a priority for the Ministry of Food. Milk rations were increased for pregnant women and children as priority groups. The initiative’s legacy would be the provision of free milk to schoolchildren from 1946 until 1971.
     

  • Supply their own food

    Grow Your Own Food
    Grow Your Own Food
    Art.IWM PST 2893

    Abram Games was appointed Official War Office Poster Artist and created this effective poster to encourage people to grow their own food using all available space. The connection between the food grown in the ground and the food on your plate was one the government was keen to emphasise, particularly for those who lived in built up areas and were not familiar with growing their own fruit and vegetables. 
     

3. How were people encouraged to stay safe?

  • Share shelters

    In A Raid – Open Your Door To Passers-By
    In A Raid – Open Your Door To Passers-By
    Art.IWM PST 13874

    Tom Purvis designed posters for the Ministry of Supply and for National Savings. This poster was designed to remind people to share their shelters and help others take cover when the air raid sounds. People were encouraged to stick it on the inside of a door as a handy reminder.
     

  • Be noticed

    Why Not Wear Something White Instead?
    Why Not Wear Something White Instead?
    Art.IWM PST 3751

    The blackout caused an increase in road traffic accidents and personal injuries. People were encouraged to wear something white such as a glove or badge so that they could be spotted. Fougasse was the pen name of Cyril Kenneth Bird, a cartoonist for Punch and illustrator for London. He offered his services to the Ministry of Information to design this poster free of charge, believing humour could unite British people in joint action. 
     

  • Evacuate the children

    Don’t Do It, Mother – Leave The Children Where They Are
    Don’t Do It, Mother – Leave The Children Where They Are
    Art.IWM PST 8235

    In 1939 when this poster was made heavy bombing of the urban areas of Britain was predicted. When the first wave of evacuation began on 1st September 1.5 million children were moved, most in school groups. However, as no bombing occurred during the first year known as the Phoney War nearly half of all evacuees returned home by January 1940. This poster was used to encourage mother’s to keep their children out of London  as Hitler appears as a ghostly figure trying to get her to take her children back home. 
     

4. How were people encouraged to salvage?

  • Join the COGS

    Look What’s Happening To Our Salvage – Join The ‘COGS’
    Look What’s Happening To Our Salvage – Join The ‘COGS’
    Art.IWM PST 14738

    Children were encouraged to help the war effort by collecting metal, paper and rags for recycling. On this poster, soap cartons have been used in the manufacture of artillery shells. Children could earn the red Junior Salvage Steward cog badge as shown on the poster for their salvage efforts. The “Cogs” even had their own song which began “There’ll Always be a Dustbin” sung to the tune of “There’ll Always be an England” which gave them a sense of belonging.
     

  • Raise funds and save

    Wanted For Sabotage
    Wanted For Sabotage
    Art.IWM PST 3406

    The Squanderbug was created by artist Phillip Boydell, an employee of the National Savings Committee. The Committee raised funds by urging the public to save their own money and invest it in the war effort. The cartoon bug appeared in press adverts and poster campaigns as a menace who encouraged shoppers to waste money rather than buy war savings certificates.
     

  • Recycle bones

    Bones Are Still Needed
    Bones Are Still Needed
    Art.IWM PST 14686

    Recycling was very important during the Second World War. Relentless attacks on British and Allied shipping meant that Britain had to be self-sufficient. People were encouraged to recycle animal bones for their multiple uses, such as glue and fertilizer. The Czech artist Dorrit Dekk, moved to London from Austria after the 1938 Anschluss and designed many posters, including some for London Transport.