Todman began volume one with the coronation of King George VI and this one begins with one of Britain’s wartime disasters, the fall of Singapore. Todman spent twenty years researching and writing these two volumes and it shows. He focuses not just as you would expect on the military side of the conflict but also on the political, economic and social realities of life in 1940s Britain.
Despite the fall of Singapore, Todman shows that British leaders already knew they were going to win the war and began planning for a post-conflict world.
Although Todman claims Churchill missed a trick at the time by not planning for the post-war world, which mean the Tories were ill-prepared. Indeed, it was Clement Attlee’s Labour Party that saw Britain through the end of Empire, the foundation of the NHS and welfare state.
In September 1944, the V2 – the first supersonic rocket – landed on Staveley Road, Chiswick, killing three people. In an attempt to cover up the reality of the new devices – the successors to the V1 or doodlebug – the government blamed the explosions on faulty gas mains.
For the most part, the V2 was an ineffective weapon missing most of its targets. It could cause devastation if it landed in urban areas.
On November 25, one hit the Woolworths in New Cross Road, south London killing 160 people.
Todman is as good on the social aspects of the war as he is on the political and military.
Both volumes come highly recommended.