WW1, the homefront

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  • Created on: 10-01-13 20:50
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Changing the attitudes to the war
During the course of the war there were natural changes in the nature of support...
However, support for the war remained strong throughout and indeed after.
Enthusiasm at the start ­ huge groups of people volunteering, bolstered by the feeling that it
would all be over by Christmas
Resolution to see an unpleasant job to its end
Questioning the purpose of the sacrifices caused by the war as Britain faced unemployment
and economic difficulties in the 1920s
While it continued the public was by a huge majority committed to the sacrifices everyone had to
make to win what was seen as a just war in defence of those who could not defend themselves
Support amongst politicians and organisations:
The governing liberal party, the conservatives ­ even the new labour party and the Irish
nationalist party which had opposed the Boer War all supported the war effort. Germany
was geographically close to Britain and powerful ­ a very different foe from for example far
off Boer republics
The two main organisations campaigning for women's suffrage suspended activity until the
conflict was over. Suffragettes became involved in persuading young men to volunteer
Trade unions expressed their support and offered no-strike agreements
The press overwhelmingly supported the war. Lord Northcliffe owner of both the Times and
the Daily Mail was particularly enthusiastic.
Popular support:
Public enthusiasm showed itself in...
Noise crowd demonstrations
Attacks on shops owned by people with German names
Pro-war songs and poetry
An influx of volunteers that was largely sustained throughout the war
Opponents of war:
A minority opposed the war from the start...
The leader of the labour party, James Ramsay Macdonald was a pacifist and resigned
leadership after labour decided to support the war
When conscription was introduced in 1916 16500 applied for exemption as conchies this was
however, small to the 2.5 million who were conscripted and volunteered for the army.
The `no conscription fellowship' by the end of 1917 had 5500 members
War weariness
o At the end of 1916, a leading conservative appalled by the slaughter of that period,
proposed a negotiated peace to the war cabinet, he received little support.

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During 1917-18 however there were more industrial stoppages, many unofficial. With the
setting up a commission of inquiry by the government it drew attention to the key issue of
food prices
o The German U-boat campaign of 1916-18 had affected imports and there was a 6% decline
in consumption of protein.
o Margarine consumption quintupled, as butter became scarcer and more expensive
Although there were problems the working class often gained from the regularity of work and
higher wages.…read more

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In general they exaggerated allied success and minimised those of the Germans, but
there tended to be no overt lies and some sense of the horrors of the trenches and
modern warfare was conveyed to the justification of the war or its conduct
The defence of the Realm act, passed by Britain in August 1914 gave the government wide powers
of censorship.…read more

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Mobilised the work force to meet state requirements
Became an offence for anyone to leave their job without employers permission
All strikes and lock-outs were forbidden
Overtime could be compulsory
Semi-skilled or unskilled labour could take the jobs of skilled men if the latter were in the
armed forces
Despite the no-strike agreements, there continued to be labour unrest. In 1917 approximately
200,000 people went on strike across nearly 50 locations.…read more

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Post war society…read more


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