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Air Raids change everything

Many children who had been evacuated at the start of the war had returned by September 1940.

Londoners did not know it but they were only one week into a bombing campaign that would be sustained for 76 consecutive nights. There was a rapid reconsideration of many government policies, from the re-evacuation of children out of London to the centralised control over food and other supplies.

The War Cabinet considers the impact of the Air Raids on supplies held in London:

14th September 1940

Food Stocks

Damage to food stocks varies from negligible quantities of bacon, meat and coffee, to half a week’s consumption of sugar, 13,600 tons. Two days’ consumption of wheat and tea has been lost. These losses are less important than the destruction of flour-mills, cold storage plants, margarine factories, and oil and cake mills, situated in the London dock areas. As regards the milling industry, reserve capacity will be brought into use and longer hours worked in order to increase the proportion of stocks held in the form of flour, which is more readily dispersed than wheat. The loss of cold storage capacity will create some difficulties in regard to meat.

Material Stocks,

The main known loss is 20,000 standards of sawn timber in the Surrey Commercial Docks. Before the intensification of air raids, steps had been taken to effect a considerable dispersion of stocks throughout the country. The Minister of Supply has considered whether this process can be carried further. He intends to arrange for releases of pit props to Colliery Companies on an increased scale. The Companies would be warned against depleting the stocks so released by consumption at an abnormal rate, since they could probably not be replaced. The possibility is also being examined of dispersing, e.g. to the West Riding, some of the stocks of wool in London, which amount to 300,000 bales. The position of stocks of rubber and cotton is also being examined.

TNA CAB/66/12/1

See also the experiences of a Canadian who had just arrived in Britain in September, Gordon Denney was with the Royal Canadian Ordnance Corps.

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