A History of the Ministry of Information, 1939-46

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What are women’s views on those who appear to be “getting away with it”, and do they feel there is much of this? In particular, is there any grievance against wives of service men, civil servants or local government employees, or any feeling that the “idle rich” are getting off with voluntary or soft options?

Question asked: Do you know if there are any loopholes in the regulations by which some women avoid National Service?

Believe that Women avoid National Service
A and B C and D Total
No. % No. % No. %
Yes 185 29.2 379 18.2 564 20.8
No 417 65.9 1549 74.6 1966 72.6
Don’t know 31 4.9 149 7.2 180 6.6
Sample 633 100 2077 100 2710 100

One fifth of the women think that possibilities exist of avoiding National Service. This belief is more prevalent among the A and B class than the C and D class.

A very slight age difference exists, the older women believing more often that loopholes exist, though the difference is statistically not significant.

Up to 30 31-36 37-50
No. % No. % No. %
Yes 189 19 119 20 256 22
No and Don’t know 799 81 464 80 885 78
Sample 988 100 583 100 1141 100

No differences were found between women with and without children under 14 nor between those working and not working.

Regional differences are only very slight; Wales being the area with the smallest number of women believing in the existence of loopholes, and the Midlands that with the largest number.

Scotland North Midlands Wales S.E. and London
% % % % %
Yes 76 71 65 76 75
No 19 21 28 14 19
Don’t know 5 8 7 10 6
Sample 589 648 517 213 733

The breakdowns by class, age, children under 14, working or not working, indicated no marked tendency to blame one or another special group for avoiding National Service. A qualitative analysis of 500 forms on “who blames whom” showed a marked tendency in all groups (defined either by age, status, working or not working, or class) to blame members of another group; together with a certain solidarity and reluctance to accuse members of the same group. Married women blame women in reserved occupations; elderly married women blame young girls who marry or have babies. Girls in jobs blame girls who stay at home. An elderly wife of a warehouseman blames “officers’ wives”, and a plate washer those who are “too lazy to work”.

The result of the analysis in detail are as follows:-

Of eleven married housewives over 36, eight accused young girls of marrying or having babies in order to avoid National Service. Typical comments were:

“By having children and rushing to get married - and vice versa,”

“Many young women - officers’ wives - seem as if they have married just to avoid their duty”. (Wife of warehouseman, aged 49)

Single women over 36 in jobs did not confine their accusations to young married women; out of twelve, six mentioned young married women as offenders, two mentioned young single women in jobs, and three accused young single women without jobs. Typical remarks were:-

“Young girls getting clerical work over the heads of qualified people” (34, single, unemployed)

“Some do not register, some get married”. (42, C, Clerk)

“Some people make more of their home ties than they need necessarily” (Nurse, C, 44)

Out of 18 married women under 36, not in jobs, who answered “Yes” to the question about loopholes, only five accused married women of attempted evasion. Nine accused women in jobs of this intention:-

“People are having their first baby after years of married life since this call-up. People call it the Black Market in babies” (33, C - mother of 2 children)

“Move from one job to another frequently - or say they are in an important job, then leave it shortly afterwards” (27, A)

“Looking after so-called invalids, who can look after themselves” (20, C)

“Too many young girls in shops still” (24, C)

“Marry into Services - tell lies”.

Out of seventeen single women under 36 in jobs, seven blamed single women not working, five blamed married women. Remarks were:-

“Some married women with no children seem to get out of it” (25, domestic servant)

“I know one girl who was going to get married to avoid going into the A.T.S.”

“A lot who’s too lazy to work” (32, platewasher, D)

“Getting their doctors to say they are delicate” (Clerk, 29, C)

“Pretending that one is obliged to look after a parent who is perfectly capable of looking after himself” (22, clerk)

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