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War Economy

Manpower Fully Extended

Manpower Fully Extended

By the end of 1941 all age groups of single men considered suitable for military service had been mobilised by successive ballots for the armed forces. In January 1942 married men from 18 to 45 inclusive without children were called up, followed, during the rest of 1942, by all successive age groups of married men from 18 to 45 with children, together with the inflow of men at age 18. After this there remained, out of the fit men aged from 18 to 45, only those held on appeal in industry and the annual inflow at 18. At the end of 1942 less than half of all males aged 18 to 45 were in industry, almost all of the rest being in the armed forces.

With this degree of mobilisation, extra demands for men for industry could be met only from men who were unfit or were outside military age, or by better disposal of those held back for important civilian work. It is small wonder that there were so many directions into essential work.

Even by mid-1942, the position in some industries had become so difficult that the Government had to make temporary releases of men from the armed forces and from public works. Yet the demands of the armed forces were such that balloting had to go on, in spite of a recommendation from the Director of National Service in July that it be postponed.1 Peak mobilisation was in September 1942, but the shortage of civilian manpower was to continue and worsen as demands for production from strained resources still increased.

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Chart 19 gives a general impression of the depleted manpower in industry during the most difficult months of the war. For every hundred workers in industry in the immediate pre-war months, only ninety were available in late 1942. The measures adopted by different industries to provide extra production with this depleted labour force are dealt with in some of the following chapters. Chapter 18 returns to a further discussion of manpower problems, particularly in the later war years.

chart of employment statistics

Chart 19

1 National Service report of 18 July 1942. War History narrative No. 51, pp. 76–7.