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During World War 2 things in Great Britain were pretty dire. Hitler had conquered Europe and England stood alone in the face of the German onslaught. Running out of food and resources and men, England struggled to find the raw materials to fend off the seemingly unstoppable German war machine. There was a real risk that the British Army would be defeated and England occupied. It was the job of civil defence planners to come up with contingency plans for cope with the worst of the worst situations. They worked on:
  • How to cope if the Germans bombed England back to the stone age?
  • How to cope if England was besieged by the German navy?
  • How to cope if the Luftwaffe decimated the Royal Air Force?
  • How to cope if the mighty German blitzkrieg rolled over England’s fair and pleasant lands?
The best thinkers and civil defence minds that the British government had worked long and hard on this problem, and came to this conclusion: The British people would respond best to a direct message from their Sovereign: King George VI. Of course there were 2 issues: firstly they could not assume that the radio masts would be working; and so they needed a message that was short and succinct enough to fit on a poster. The message they came up with, to calm the hysterical masses during what would be England’s most darkest hour, was simply this:

Keep Calm and Carry On !!

A sublime example of English understatement if ever there was one. And so, in the depths of the resource strapped war torn England, the British government commissioned a massive 2.5 Million posters, all with the crown of King George with the simple message “Keep Calm and Carry On”. These posters were then stockpiled, to be used in the event of direst need. So what happened? When were the posters issued?
  • Was it when he British army was defeated in Europe and beat a frantic retreat at Dunkirk when 1.3M British Commonwealth forces were captured or killed?
  • Was it when rationing was introduced and people could only get 4 oz / 113 g of bacon per week?
  • Was it when London was bombed every night for 8 months?
  • Was it during the Battle of Britain, when the Luftwaffe threw thousands of planes a night across the English Channel and the RAF were desperately fighting for their very existence, and even Winston Churchill called it “England’s darkest hour”?
Amazingly it was none of the above. The war came and went and these most emergency of posters were never used! Despite the ravished and war torn state that Britain found itself in, the British civil servants never deemed the situation so dire that they felt the need to enact the final emergency contingency plan. And so it was that the posters were ultimately destroyed and they passed out of common knowledge. Only though the luck of a chance find just a few years ago, when an old version was found in a book, was this amazing story and the most marvellous of English understated history brought to light. If ever there was a piece of living history, that completely captures the “Stiff Upper Lip” spirit of the English, this is it. This is your chance to own a piece of history and regale your friends and colleague with this incredible story. Make your purchase today and remember, when times are at their worst, when you feel you can’t possibly go on, you too can invoke that most British of attitudes, and Keep Calm and Carry On when you buy today!

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