Alan Allport draws on personal letters and diaries, newspaper reports, novels and films – casting his net wide to surface some painful truths behind the darker side of a homecoming for ex-servicemen, their families and society at large. The men who survived were tired, but Britain was exhausted – wracked by social disorder, austerity and disillusion – and barely ready to cope with the impact of those troops’ needs.
The country was troubled though triumphant, subject to continued rationing and political change. ‘Demobbed’ is the story of what happened when millions of ex-servicemen came back from fighting overseas; facing practical and psychological problems of all kinds. As they tried to find a new place in an old home, or rejoin a much-altered labour force, their families and others worried that their heroes had been barbarised by their experiences ‘Problem veterans’ preoccupied the entire country. Allport tells the tale.