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Spade as Mighty as the Sword The Story of World War Two's Dig for Victory Campaign by Daniel Smith

Spade as Mighty as the Sword The Story of World War Two's Dig for Victory Campaign

Gardening   History   

RRP £16.99

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Daniel Smith takes us back to a time when even the moat at the Tower of London was sacrificed to Vegetable growing. Faced with the real possibilities of serious food shortages during WWII gardening got serious and urged on by propaganda and radio broadcasts the country turned its hand to tilling the soil. A fascinating story, the author highlighting the role played by the gardening gurus of the day, the facts and figures behind the food production, the health benefits and the sheer hard work involved in Digging for Victory.

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Digging for Victory: Gardening with Mr Middleton, C. H. Middleton
Adam the Gardener, Cyril Cowell


Spade as Mighty as the Sword The Story of World War Two's Dig for Victory Campaign by Daniel Smith

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 Dan 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.


'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'

/10 Lancashire Evening Post 'Riveting...the story behind the spade is a fascinating one
Oxford Times

'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

'A fascinating account.'
Garden News

'A compelling record.'
Good Book Guide

About the Author

Daniel Smith is author of the Sherlock Holmes Companion, also published by Aurum, and The Lucky Bugger's Casebook.

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Book Info

Publication date

14th July 2011


Daniel Smith

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Aurum Press Ltd


256 pages



Second World War
20th century history: c 1900 to c 2000



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