Abstract: Technological Change and the Future of Post Office Communications, 1939-1945

Mark Crowley

Abstract

This paper will investigate how technological developments in the British Post Office during the Second World War were the key to securing military victory. The Post Office was, during wartime, the largest government-owned business and the largest single employer of women. Consequently, the Government saw it as central to the war effort. Despite being originally reluctant to experiment with new technology in wartime, the Government was led by its desire for innovation and change to facilitate military victory to change its attitude, helping the Post Office to become a better prepared and more efficient organization for the post-Second World War period. The paper will highlight the debates surrounding the development and experimentation with new technology, especially concerning the costs and practicalities. Primarily, this paper will explore the debates within the Post Office pertaining to the practicalities of introducing new technology for wartime communications, and will show how the Post Office overcame its reservations about the suitability and practicality of new technology, successfully persuading the Treasury to provide the additional finance.