An Underworld at War: Spivs, Deserters, Racketeers and Civilians in the Second World War by Donald Thomas
The activities of the underworld, extending into a civilian black market and the armed forces, are one of the great untold stories of the Second World War. The profits of civilian racketeering dwarfed the rewards of smash-and-grab or safebreaking, though these continued apace. Professional gangs raided government offices for ration books and underground presses counterfeited petrol and clothing coupons in tens of thousands. The scale of theft in the army was also colossal, with whole consignments of cigarettes, razor-blades and NAAFI stores disappearing. Donald Thomas draws on extensive archive material to tell the extraordinary tale of these less-heroic Britons. The facts he uncovers are often so preposterous that in a novel they would seem unbelievable.