Wartime Taxes rise again in the UK

RAF Boston bombers in a daylight raid on Le Havre on the Channel coast on 16th April 1942.

Daytime Bombing
Bostons of Bomber Command attacked targets in Northern France. At Hazebrouck railway centre, several fires were started among the sheds. A hit was claimed on Mondeville Power Station, near Caen, and numerous bursts were also seen on railway lines and factories. Bombs were dropped at Cherbourg docks and on a railway line nearby. Hurricane bombers attacked Desvres aero­ drome and the railway between Marck and Gravelines.

In support of these operations and in large-scale sweeps a total of 148 Fighter Squadron sorties were flown. Enemy re-action varied. Some opera­ tions were vigorously opposed by large numbers of fighters. During others, opposition was not of a determined nature, and in some instances no hostile air­ craft appeared. Eighteen enemy fighters were destroyed, 13 probably destroyed, and 36 damaged. We lost 27 Spitfires (four pilots safe) and one Boston.

From the Air Situation Report for the week ending 16th April 1942 as reported to the British War Cabinet, see TNA CAB 66/23/44

Home Front: A family relaxes at home on a Sunday afternoon in Taunton, Somerset. A man and two women occupy themselves with typical wartime leisure pursuits - reading, knitting and listening to the radio.

Quite apart from the dangers of war, the blackout and rationing, the British were being hit hard in their pocket. The war had to be paid for and that meant almost penal levels of taxation for everyone. Income tax had already been raised to 50 per cent. In addition to rationing on food and clothing there were shortages of many commodities so there was a limited range of things people could buy even if they did have the money.The common pleasures left to the average man – smoking and drinking – were now targeted. The average wage in 1942 was £320 or just over £6 a week.

In Ipswich diarist Richard Brown was keeping a record of the impact of the war:

16th April 1942

Tuesday was Budget Day and, of course, it brought new taxes. Income not affected, remaining at 10 s [shillings] in the £1 [50%], but tobacco, beer and purchase tax were soaked. Cigarettes, decent ones, at 9d for ten are now 1 shilling for ten and tobacco has gone up to 7d per ounce.

Stuff like St Julien is now about 2s per ounce. Cool! Naturally chaps at work are trying to cut off altogether. We are chipping them and they seem a bit lugubrious over it, though sticking to it.

Beer is up 2d per pint and whisky is up 4s 6d per bottle to 22s 6d. Entertainment tax is up 2d on ls 2d – 10s 6d on 2-guinea seats for example. Purchase tax is doubled on a big list of articles, now standing at 33% per cent, the increase making it 66% per cent. There is a little relief for lower paid income tax payers, otherwise that’s all.

See Mr Brown’s War: A Diary from the Home Front

Salvage On The British Home Front, 1942: A housewife puts a pair of old Wellington boots and a rubber hot water bottle out for salvage. Also on the pile to be collected by the salvage van are tins, paper and glass.
Utility Underwear: Clothing Restrictions On The British Home Front, 1942: A 12 year old boy models Utility underwear. His wool and cotton vest costs 5/ 8d and 2 coupons, and his wool and cotton trunks cost 4/ 10d and 5 coupons.

By Day

There were two minor incidents. On the 9th April Worthing was bombed. Some damage was caused to a hospital and a gasometer was set on fire. Two people were killed. On the 13th slight damage was done to a few houses at Portland and Weymouth.

By Night

Grimsby was bombed on the night of the 13th/ 14th. Thirteen people were killed and 28 seriously injured and a number of houses were destroyed. Some houses were also wrecked at Hull and four people were killed and a few injured. There were other incidents of a minor nature mostly in the Humber area.

On the 15th/16th 25 people were killed and 52 seriously injured at Middles­borough. Public utility services were affected, some roads were blocked and houses damaged, and there were a few small fires. Damage was also caused at Saltburn and Skelton in the North Riding, but there were no casualties.


Estimated civilian casualties for the week ending 0600 the 15th April are 20 killed and 33 seriously injured.

From the Home Security Situation Report for the week ending 16th April 1942 as reported to the British War Cabinet see TNA CAB 66/23/44

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