As had been the case with WW1, the role of women changed substantially during the war years. With the men away fighting it was up to the women to take up jobs on the land and in factories to keep the nation fed and support the war effort. For Rachael this meant she was freed from domestic service. She joined the army and was trained to drive trucks. She was assigned to Redwings of Croydon and drove around delivering aircraft parts
Rachael's sister, Marjie, became a nursing auxiliary. It was at a dance during her posting that she would meet her future husband, Ted Unsworth.
The British Women’s Land Army first set up in January 1917 for the World War 1, was re-formed in June 1939, in preparation for World War 2. Over 200,000 Land Girls replaced male farm workers who had gone to war. They were critical to increasing the country’s food production. Women were also taken into munitions factories vital to the war effort.
The Blitz was a sustained German bombing offensive between August 1940 and June 1941. Most bombs fell on the major ports and shipping centres around Britain’s coastline, including London which sustained the heaviest and most continuous attacks. Raids on industrial centres were limited chiefly to towns where aircraft production was based. The Blitz resulted in some 43 thousand civilian deaths and was designed to pave the way for a German invasion of the British Isles.
In February 1945 in an attempt to end the war in Europe the German city of Dresden was bombed by a British-American force.
An estimated 22,700 to 25,000 people were killed and a vast area of land was laid waste. The morality of this attack on civilians remains disputed to this day. John had seen a lot of terrible things during the war but the sight of the destruction in Dresden made him cry.
World War II, involved virtually every part of the world during the years 1939–45. War was between the Axis powers (Germany, Italy and Japan) and the Allies (France, Great Britain, the USA, the Soviet Union, and to a lesser extent China). It is estimated that between 40 to 50 million deaths occurred making it the bloodiest conflict, as well as the largest war, in history. Mainland Europe was bombarded by both sides and by 1945 great areas were laid waste and there were millions of refugees.