Crime On The Home Front: Breaking the law during World War Two

Discussion in 'United Kingdom' started by vailron, Apr 6, 2007.

  1. Ron Goldstein

    Ron Goldstein WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran Patron

    Yes, some folk did use those desperate days to enrich themselves, but there were also episodes where much kindness and understanding was shown to others who were in trouble.

    I am reminded of my dear late wife's story about the night she was bombed and the household goods that were left in the street but remained untouched:
    BBC - WW2 People's War - The night our house was sliced in half

    Slipdigit likes this.
  2. timuk

    timuk Well-Known Member

    With all the guns about I've always wondered if there was much of an increase in armed crime.
  3. Ron Goldstein

    Ron Goldstein WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran Patron

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  4. Shiny 9th

    Shiny 9th Member

    Yes, I do think there is a tendency to view life in wartime through some degree of rose tinted specs.A feeling that there was a common aim and that community spirit suppressed criminal tendencies.Sadly not the case.There were still murders and looting from bombed properties. What about the "black market"?.....
  5. CL1

    CL1 116th LAA and 92nd (Loyals) LAA,Royal Artillery

  6. Harry Ree

    Harry Ree Very Senior Member

    I think some of the offences recorded might come under a category of minor offences.

    There was an offence recorded in Market Rasen of an airman riding a bike in the blackout.He was pulled in by the local policeman and charged with the offence.The airman in question was a Sergeant aircrew from nearby Ludford and his case met the newspaper....may have been the Lincolnshire Echo...despite the airman being on No 101 Squadron and subject an operational flying regime he was summoned to Market Rasen magistrates court and fined,I think it was five shillings or so.(I'll have to unearth the news item and ascertain if he survived the war)

    He must have got on his bike at Ludford and virtually free wheeled down the hill to Market Rasen, probably to the Aston pub. Of course an airfield could not function without the bikes....not likely that lamps would remain on a bike for long especially as a bike front lamp could function as a flashlght.

    There were other offences such not adhering to the blackout regulations and people were always at risk of prosecution from charges laid down by over zealous Air Raid Wardens clamping down on chinks of light from blackout curtains.

    There must have been many offences against the wartime regulations covering consumables such as petrol and foodstuffs...... the black market and profiteering.

    On deeper offences..murder and rape by US forces and British Forces.... there was the Cleft Chin murder case which involved a wayward USAAF airman and Elizabeth Jones which was highly publicised.
  7. Dave

    Dave Junior Member

    my father was in Liverpool from 1941 in the CMP, and when I was reading the war diaries it was continually on about pilfering from ships being loaded/unloading and even putting armed MP's in the holds, to which docker's kept striking. This was happening all over the country, in one case a docker was fined 7s. 6d for pinching cigarette's...
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  8. toki2

    toki2 Junior Member

    I doubt that the criminal sort changed their morals because we were at war but used every opportunity to exploit the situation. I think that there was a rise in opportunistic law breaking regarding black market goods and tweaking of rations by people who would otherwise claim to be law abiding citizens. Pilfering from the docks was always seen as a perk until the advent of container shipping. My grandfather was a master butcher and ship's chandler and the family were certainly not living on dried eggs and spam.
    The 'We are all in it together' mantra because we all have the same rations did not quite ring true. I believe that restaurant meals were not rationed so those that could afford it ate out.
  9. Ramiles

    Ramiles Researching 9th Lancers, 24th L and SRY

    BBC World Service - Witness History, Britain's World War Two crime wave

    BBC audio - 9 mins -

    "During times of crisis in the UK, World War Two is often remembered as a period when the country rallied together to fight a common enemy. British politicians still refer to the so-called "Blitz Spirit" when calling for national unity. But as Simon Watts has been finding out from the BBC archives, there was a crime wave during the war years, with a massive increase in looting and black marketeering."
  10. Robert-w

    Robert-w Banned

    They were however controlled so that there was a top limit on the price of any meal and on the permitted content. Opening hours and last serving time were also restricted. At the same time low cost establishments serving basic low cost meals were encouraged - for example the British Restaurants specifically intended to cater to workers in small works and offices. Works canteens were not rationed either and were one of the means of encouraging workers into the war industries as a daily subsidised or even free meal was not to be sneezed at.
    A common misconception of the rationing system is that it guaranteed everyone a particular issue of food - it did not. What rations did was to limit what people could buy so that the well off could not buy it all up but very often people could not use up all their ration allowance as the food shop with which they were registered had not received enough supplies. Food production was not always the problem but distribution was very often inefficient. I have found various diary entries bemoaning this issue. Such shortages opened up black market opportunities. Bread and potatoes were never rationed.
  11. WiltsHistory

    WiltsHistory Member

    Were the penalties much stricter in wartime, or lesser so if you were a ‘good sort’?
  12. Ron Goldstein

    Ron Goldstein WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran Patron

    You may have noticed that there is a shortage of ww2 vets on the site , no doubt caused by our ages :)

    Speaking on the subject for myself I, was 16 when war broke out, joined the army in 1942 at the age of 19 and in April 1943 was whipped overseas to North Africa so from then on until 1947 had no experience whatsoever of life in the UK.

    Come to think of it , there's not many of us left to answer any of your ww2 questions !!!!!!!!!!!!!

    TriciaF likes this.
  13. WiltsHistory

    WiltsHistory Member

    An amazing insight you must be able to give, what a gift for us of different generations.
  14. TriciaF

    TriciaF Junior Member

    Ron - On a lighter note - I was living with my grandparents in those days and was sharing the attic bedroom with Mum's teenaged sisters
    One night when they came to bed they thought I was asleep.
    They were worried that they had been out with their friends and were stopped by the police for being too noisy.
    I clearly remember my Auntie J. saying "I hope they didn't think we were drunk and disorderly!"
  15. Shiny 9th

    Shiny 9th Member

    When I was very young, we went to visit a relative and I recall him taking us to a wooden hut, next to a very deep reservoir, which I understood was used by fire crews after bombing raids. After inspecting the tadpoles etc in the water, a key was flourished and we all went into the hut.My relative then showed us a loose floorboards,lifted it and said it was where black market goods were kept.I have no idea why he had the key, or his official role ,maybe ARP? His main job was for Ministry of Food!

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