4th January 1946:  London's gas companies are in need of employees, two men reading the labour wanted notice at the South Met Gas companies, with an empty gasometer in the background.  (Photo by Fox Photos/Getty Images)

Despair after VE day… the men left behind by victory

After all the carousing and flag-waving that followed VE day in 1945, millions of young men fortunate enough not to be still fighting the Japanese faced a problem. Having spent five or six years in uniform, they needed jobs. For those who lacked explicit civilian skills, which meant most, it was hard to persuade employers that a talent for flying a Spitfire, commanding a gun battery or navigating a destroyer qualified a man to run a factory or even sell socks.

  • Brett_McS

    The advent of war didn’t finish the Great Depression in the US (which was just a normal depression elsewhere). All the war did was divert men from the unemployment lines, giving the temporary appearance of prosperity. It was the repeal of Roosevelt’s ridiculous labour laws and other government restrictions on business just after the war that ended it.

    After WWII my father and his brothers started their own business supplying parts for machinery made out of the only material that was readily available: armour plate. My eldest uncle was some sort of genius toolmaker and designed dies that could punch out shapes in that incredibly tough material. My Dad tried to describe to me how his brother could visualize the way steel flowed under pressure.

    • Norman_In_New_York

      After the War, President Truman formed the War Assets Administration to speed up the reconversion of industry to peacetime use by auctioning off the Arsenal of Democracy for ten cents on the dollar. In addition, Congress passed the GI Bill that subsidized the higher education and job training of veterans. These two measures were key in creating the post-war prosperity that followed.

  • tom_billesley

    Sgan Aluf Gordon Levett did find his RAF flying skills useful after WW2

  • nfg

    Bikers started at the end of WWII