War effort statistics



War effort statistics


Covers shipping and imports

Spatial Coverage





One newspaper cutting


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OUR war effort has been achieved in the face of very serious obstacles. The black-out, evacuation, and bombed houses and factories have been a perpetual handicap.

But the greatest problem of all has been the U-boat war and the effect of its attempted blockade upon the economy of the country.


In 1939 our mercantile marine of ocean-going ships amounted to 17 1/2 million gross tons. [italics] By the end of December, 1943, we had lost 12 1/2 million tons. [/italics]

By means of new building in home and Canadian yards, by capture, by purchase and by temporary acquisition from U.S.A., we fought our way back to 15 1/2 million tons – of which 13 1/2 million will remain permanently on the British register.

Including neutral and Allied ships, the enemy – and the sea – had destroyed over 22 million tons by the end of 1943. Only British and North American yards were available to make this good. With the help of America’s tremendous feat of ship-building, all arrears have been more than made good in 1944.


But vast numbers of Allied ships are needed for military operations. Our imports have, therefore, been cut to ribbons.

Here are the tonnages of dry cargo imported:


The consequences of this great reduction of supplies from overseas are that:

We have had to beat up home food production – e.g., wheat and potatoes have doubled;

We have had to double our production at home of low-grade iron ore and use every bit of scrap;

We have almost stopped importing pit-wood for the mines and reduced our normal timber supplies – used for houses, furniture and a hundred other purposes – from seven to one and a half million tons;

Paper-making materials have been cut to one-sixth of normal, and incidentally reduced our national newspapers to four pages of light-weight paper;

Textile materials – and therefore clothing – have been drastically reduced;

Very little material – or, indeed, of man-power – has been available for our export trade, which has fallen to less than 30 per cent. of its volume in 1938.

These war-time expedients are all measured in the White Paper. Its figures show the scale of the job we have to undertake in getting the normal life of the country going again.

Perhaps the most important is our export business, which will have to pay for our imports when Lend-Lease ceases.



“War effort statistics,” IBCC Digital Archive, accessed May 29, 2024, https://ibccdigitalarchive.lincoln.ac.uk/omeka/collections/document/22087.

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