World War II killed more people, destroyed more property, disrupted more lives, and probably had more far-reaching consequences than any other war in history. It was small wonder that in the midst of this horror, the British public employed gallows humour. Some comic moments were intentional, but for those in London, the government's call to lower the height of heels to save on wood would have had echoes of Churchill's speech when he succeeded Chamberlain as Prime Minister, with the promise that he had nothing to offer Britain but "blood, toil, tears, and sweat".
By June, Hitler had invaded the low countries of Denmark, Belgium, Luxembourg and the Netherlands - despite their neutrality. The conquest of Norway secured Germany's shipments of iron ore and also provided bases for German submarines and aircraft. Hitler tricked British and French forces into Belgium, while the main German invasion cut behind them through the Belgian Ardennes Forest to the south. When Belgium surrendered seven days later, the Allied troops were trapped. Britain sent all available craft to the rescue, and on the troops safe return they were welcomed as heroes, revealing just how eager the public were for an opportunity to cheer "Well done boys".
Photo 98 is a series of high-profile national events and exhibitions. For information telephone 01484 559888, or refer to www.photo98.com
Current exhibitions: "Lot 384", an installation by Marion Harrison which explores the materiality of magic lantern slides, touching on their historical significance and origins.
To April 18. Batley Art Gallery, Market Place, Batley WF17 5DA (01924 326 090).Reuse content