Millions Like Us: Women’s Lives in War and Peace 1939–1949 by Virginia Nicholson - review by Juliet Gardiner

Juliet Gardiner

White Gold

Millions Like Us: Women’s Lives in War and Peace 1939–1949


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Millions Like Us is the title of a film made in 1943 by Sidney Gilliat (later to be best known for his St Trinian’s films) and Frank Launder. Starring Patricia Roc and Eric Portman, it told the story of a wartime aircraft factory. Its propaganda purpose was to show both the vital contribution to the war effort made by women drafted to make aircraft components (the film ends with planes from Bomber Command flying overhead on yet another mission), and how women from very different social backgrounds learned to rub along together during wartime in a way that would have been unthinkable in their peacetime lives.

The title is an appropriate choice for Virginia Nicholson’s book, which essentially gives the same message as the film, though its canvas is much broader – and more nuanced. What Nicholson has done with great aplomb is tell the story of the Second World War through the optic

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