Entertaining the Troops by Kiri Bloom Walden

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This book explores the foundation and work of the Entertainments National Service Association (ENSA) and other entertainment organisations such as CEMA and Stars in Battledress. These organisations ensured that troops in all theatres of the Second World War were visited by big bands, ballet stars, Shakespearian actors and the most famous popular entertainers of the day in order to raise morale. Many of Britain's biggest stars cut their teeth performing on makeshift stages to homesick soldiers, sailors and airmen and women during the war years, with famous performers including Laurence Olivier, Gracie Fields, George Formby, Vera Lynn, Margot Fonteyn and members of The Goons. This book also details the alternative arrangements made when the entertainment organisations couldn't come – the forces often put on their own shows, with pantomimes and plays written and performed by POWs being a prime example.