(click image to enlarge)
By January 1945, it was clear that the war in Europe was drawing to a conclusion. The failed German offensive at the Battle of the Bulge had been fought in freezing conditions in the Ardennes as Europe was hit by one of the coldest winters in recent memory. Britain had not been spared these freezing temperatures, with the Met Office report for January noting ‘intense frost and considerable snow’ for much of the month. On the morning of 25 January, Cardiff awoke to 2 ½ feet of snow. This misery was compounded by a serious coal shortage across the country. Throughout the war, coal supplies had struggled to meet demand due to acute labour shortages and numerous strikes over wages, but the increased demand caused by the cold weather, coupled with labour shortages and impassable roads had resulted in large areas of the country going weeks without coal. The Minister of Production, Oliver Lyttelton and Minister of Fuel and Power, Gwylim Lloyd George (son of former Prime Minister David Lloyd George), both pictured in this cartoon, were accused of playing down the seriousness of the situation. With Lloyd George’s offer of the additional employment of just 400 men to aid suppliers for the whole country deemed woefully inadequate, Low suggests that the only thing the population had to warm itself was a load of hot air.