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Women in Wartime by Michael Brooke
Introduction WWI WWII: Propaganda WWII: Newsreels WWII: Food Features: 1939-42
Features: 1943 Features: 1944-45 Gainsborough Women Filmmakers    
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WWII: Newsreels
Still from Food Front

Worker and Warfront:
'Food Front' (1942)

In addition to sponsoring more direct forms of propaganda, The Ministry of Information and other government departments also backed British newsreels, with the aim of conveying similar messages about the range of options and opportunities open to women, often in the form of a celebratory account of their achievements. These would have been screened both during normal cinema programmes and in special screenings arranged at workplaces, often during meal breaks.

Warwork News (1941-45) provides several examples, notably 'There's Not Much Women Can't Do' (issue 18, 1943), whose title reflects the somewhat patronising tone of the commentary, with its references to "unexpected strength and a degree of skill hitherto thought beyond their powers". However, as a guide to the range of work being performed by women (delivering milk, public transport, heavy industry, with particular focus on a steelworks) it's a valuable record.

The same newsreel also had a regular slot entitled 'The Other Man's Job', which was just as likely to highlight women's contributions. Examples include issue 19 (1943), about a Scottish locomotive factory producing engines to support the impending invasion of continental Europe where old (male) hands work alongside new female recruits. Issue 27 (1943) shows a factory entirely staffed by women, making tank landing craft for the invasion of Sicily - and to emphasise their contribution, one of their number is chosen to launch the finished product.

Worker and Warfront (1942-46), as its title suggests, provided news items aimed specifically at those actively engaged in war-oriented work. 'Food Front' (1942), from the first issue, explains to women how they can use their status as war workers to jump the queue when shopping for food.

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