The Home Front

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  • The Home Front
    • Who were conscientious objectors?
      • Had to appear before local tribunals to explain why they refused to fight
      • Most 'conchies' joined up to do war work in the medical or support services
      • About 1500 conchies were imprisoned
      • Men who refused to join the army or fight for their country
    • What changed for women in the war?
      • Fashion changed: skirts were shortened, corset was abandoned, trousers worn - reflecting freedom and practicality
      • Women began going to pubs by themselves and smoking
      • Idea of motherhood encouraged: national Baby Week (July 1917), national council for the unmarried Mother and her Child founded, showing changing attitudes
      • Government paid weekly amount to families of soldiers
      • Decrease in domestic service and increase in munitions, banking and metal work for women workers whereas Land Army work were done by countryside women anyway
      • Many servants left to work in factories as wages were higher and middle class were encouraged to let servants go
      • By 1918 half a million women replaced men in office jobs
      • Encouraged men to enlist: white feathers, mother's union persuasive propaganda and Active Service League took oaths to persuade men to join army
      • Revolution in the working world, despite returning to domestic roles in 1918, the way to careers beyond the home had been opened
      • Munitions: Government set example by employing women in the factories run by them
        • Women faced sexism and resistance from trade unions
        • Munitions work was dangerous: terrible accidents, breathing difficulties, rashes, blood poisoning, yellowing skin, digestive problems, brain damage and infertility
    • How were men recruited for the Army?
      • Between August 1914 and March 1916, 2.5 million men volunteered for the British Army
        • The recruitment campaign launched by the Government in 1914 was more successful than expected
          • 750,000 men joined up during first weeks
      • Whole groups of friends joined up together as a Pal's Battalions
      • However, high casualty rate meant more troops were needed and by late 1915 the Government were considering conscription
      • Conscription was highly controversial but in May 1916 the Military Services Act gave Government the power to conscript all men aged 18-41
      • Only men in 'reserved occupations' (e.g. munitions or mining) were exempt from military service
    • How were British civilians in danger?
      • Civilian casualties were light compared with the military casualties; 1500 civilians were killed
      • In December 1914, German warships shelled town in north-east England
      • In January 1915, giant Zeppelin airships began bombing raids, making a total of 57 raids
      • In May 1917, German Gotha bombers began the first of 27 raids on British towns
    • What was conscription?
      • Conscription was highly controversial but in May 1916 the Military Services Act gave Government the power to conscript all men aged 18-41
      • Only men in 'reserved occupations' (e.g. munitions or mining) were exempt from military service
    • When and why was rationing introduced?
      • DORA allowed the Government to control food supplies; Britain didn't suffer shortages before 1916 but food prices rose dramatically (about 60%)
        • Became a problem when German U-boats began to attack shipping on a large scale
      • The Government tried to increase food production by bringing all available land into production (3 million extra acres of land by 1918)
      • Voluntary rationing schemes were unsuccessful so Government introduced compulsory rationing in 1918
      • Sugar, meat, butter, jam and margarine were all rationed
        • In general, people felt rationing was fair and kept prices under control
      • There were black markets in goods, but penalties under DORA were very severe
    • What was DORA?
      • In August 1914, the Government passed the Defence of the Realm Act, which gave the Government more power in media, food production and industry
      • Government took over coal mines; miners were not conscripted into the army and wages/profits were fixed
        • Similar action was taken with the railways and shipping
      • Early in 1915, private enterprise was unable to supply munitions army needed. David Lloyd George became Minister of Munitions, reorganising production and setting up new state-run factories
        • By the end of the war, the Government controlled about 20,000 factories
    • How did the Government use propaganda and censorship?
      • DORA allowed Government to control media: The Tribunal was pacifist and shut down plus The Daily Herald (socialist) was closely monitored
      • After the war, twelve newspaper owners were given knighthoods for their wartime services - circulation of patriotic newspapers went up dramatically
      • Leading authors - Rudyard Kipling, Thomas Hardy and H.G. Wells - produced patriotic materials for free, which sold in their thousands
      • Propaganda was aimed at children through books, games and toys
      • 20 million saw Battle of the Somme at the cinema, which didn't show British deaths, and was highly successful
      • "Good news only" news was controlled and public were told only of victories or heroic resistance
        • When HMS Audacious sunk in October 1914 it was unreported
      • Letters from soldiers were censored (sometimes personally) as they didn't want loved ones to know the brutality of war
      • The Press Bureau and Intelligence Service analysed thousands of articles, telegrams and photographs to keep important information from the wrong hands
        • Train spotters got into trouble for reading too much about the transport system


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