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The spade as mighty as the sword - Daniel Smith

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The spade as mighty as the sword - the story of the Second World War 'Dig for Victory' campaign
Daniel Smith
Aurum Press
UK Publication Date

After food rationing was introduced in 1940, and German U-boats began threatening merchant shipping bringing in essential foodstuffs, the Ministry of Agriculture decided something had to be done to make the kitchens of Britain more self-sufficient.
The result was one of Britain’s most successful propaganda campaigns – Dig for Victory – encouraging every man and woman to turn their garden, or even the grass verge in their street, over to cultivating vegetables. By 1942 half the population were taking part, and even the Royal Family had sacrificed their rose beds for growing onions.
Now, Daniel Smith tells the full story of this remarkable wartime episode when spades, forks and bean canes became weapons the ordinary citizen could take up against the enemy. It had tangible benefits for the war effort in that shipping could be reallocated for munitions instead of food imports, as well as for the health of the nation in encouraging a diet of fresh fruit and veg. The campaign threw up unexpected celebrities like C.H. Middleton, whose wartime BBC radio talks on gardening reached a vast audience, and it even sowed the seeds for the modern allotment movement.
Ultimately it is a war story without fighting or killing, one that shows how even The Little Man with the Spade, in the words of the Minister for Agriculture at the time, did his bit for Victory.

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Daniel Smith has written on subjects as diverse as Sherlock Holmes (The Sherlock Holmes Companion: An Elementary Guide), serendipity (The Lucky Bugger's Casebook) and Cockney rhyming slang (The Language of London). When not buried in an archive somewhere in search of forgotten stories, he lives in East London with his wife, Rosie, and an assortment of fish. Despite his passionate interest in the Dig for Victory campaign, his own garden is, alas, not all that it might be. He is author of The Spade as Mighty as the Sword: The Story of World War Two's Dig for Victory Campaign, published by Aurum.

'A compelling record.'

Good Book Guide

'A fascinating account.'

Garden News

‘An inspirational record of this grassroots movement, which created a million tonnes of food each year and laid the framework for the ever-popular allotment system.’

Daily Mail

‘Daniel Smith’s engaging, informed book traces the movement at every level … The Dig of Victory Story is as much a preparation for the future as a hymn to the past.’ – John Carey

The Sunday Times

‘It is surprising that the Dig for Victory campaign has so far received only modest exclusive attention by historians of the Second World War. This book splendidly makes good that deficiency. It delivers a fascinating story of the most homely of war efforts – possibly critical and certainly deep down at the grass roots.’

Northern Echo

'An inspirational account' 9/10

Lancashire Evening Post

'Riveting...the story behind the spade is a fascinating one'

Oxford Times

Keyword Index
World War, 1939-1945 - Great Britain - Propaganda.|Vegetable gardening - Great Britain - History - 20th century.
Country of Publication
Number of Pages

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