Britain during WW1

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Getting men to join

  • Voluntary - Lord Kitchener thought he needed about 1m men. In 1914 there was only 250k. Government began a recruitment drive - posters and pamphlets. Initially successful - first month 500k signed up and by 1916 2.5m. Meant whole towns and villages lost their workforce and many never returned
  • Conscription - soon became clear volunteers wouldn't make up for losses. Conscription act passed in Jan 1916 - compulsory for single men between 18-41 to fight. 3 months later this included married men. 16-18 a third of the army was conscripted. Fair as everyone shared the burden. Government could control which jobs went - mining stayed
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Did men join?

  • Different reasons for joining - persuasion/away from job/their duty/exciting. 
  • Others that for religious/moral reasons couldn't face the thought of killing people. Had to prove they weren't cowards before a tribunal and would be made to do non-combat fighting like driving ambulances.
  • Refusal to have anything to do with the war resulted in prison. If the tribunal didn't believe the conchie they would be sent back to the front line. 
  • Refusal to follow orders resulted in court-martial - shot!
  • Little sympathy for conchies.
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Impact on ordinary life

  • In Dec 1914 Germany shelled towns on the north-east coast. 119 people killed. In Jan 1915 Zeppelins began bombing. 57 times - 564 dead, 1370 injured. From May 1917 Gotha bombers also attacked. June 17 162 people killed in London including 16 kids who's school was hit. Attacks made people realise everyone was at risk. Plans made for an invasion but weren't public.
  • In 1913 Britain depended on foregin imports. 40% of meat, 50% of fruit milk and veg, 80% wheat and all sugar. Until 1916 British sea power meant they were strong enough to get through but shortages began in 1916. German U-boats were sinking 1/4 of all British ships.
  • Food ran short so prices went up and the rich hoarded - poor couldn't afford basic supplies.
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Actions by the Government

  • Gov. took control of mining. Not conscripted and all paid the same.
  • Railways needed to transport troops. Gov took control of railway companies and offered them the same profit as in 1913
  • By 1915 munitions were low. Gov set up a Ministry of Munitions run by Lloyd George. New factories built + technology introduced. Wages controlled. Had control of 20000 munitions factories
  • Lloyd George became prime minister in 1916. Set up a ministry for shipping for vital imports. 
  • Set up committees that persuaded farmers to turn pasteures into arable land. Meant crop production rose. 
  • Subsidised price of bread so wasn't expensive and wasn't rationed
  • Local committees encouraged voluntary rationing
  • Compulsory rationing in 1918. Rationing of sugar only ended in Nov 1920
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Use of DORA (Defence of the Realm Act)

  • Britain was determined to carry on as normal. Morale was kept high, but it caused problems because people thought they could eat as much as they want, go on strike and gather in large groups (making it easy for German bombing raids to kill more)
  • Lloyd George used DORA in 1915 to attack this attitude - restricted pub opening times, cancelled events like football matches, race meetings and the Oxford Cambridge boat race.
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Role of Women during WW1

  • The war changed the role of women and opened up the possibility of careers beyond the home. 
  • At first their role was seen as only to support men. But by summer 1915 this was clearly not enough. 
  • Food. clothing and araments had to be provided - became obvious women should fill the gap
  • Trade unionists were against this. Didnt think unskilled me/women should fill skilled men's space. Women were paid less worried bosses would pay men less or keep women on. 
  • Munitions crisis of 1915 sorted this. Trade unions made deals. Women paid same as men - men would get jobs back after war.
  • From Aug 1915 women were encouraged to work full time. 
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Role of Women during WW1 2

  • Many women left domestic service and got munitions jobs. 16,000 women worked in the Women's Land Army - mostly from rural areas.
  • National kitchens were set up to help women get affordable meals.
  • Landlords put up rent when women earned more. Lead to rent strikes and demonstrations. Gov introduced the Rent Restriction Act. Kept rent costs at 1913 levels.
  • Wives of servicemen given a seperation allowance. Became a pension if the man died. Dependent on rank and children.
  • Motherhood encouraged - Mothers day introduced in 1916.
  • Women became more financially independent. Began going to retauraunts and pubs by themselves, shortening skirts, smoking. In hartlepool pubs refused to serve women!
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Use of propaganda

  • Newspapers didn't print the truth. Journalists weren't even allowed to go to the front at the start of the war! Used specific language to keep morale high. Soldiers knew the truth and felt betrayed.
  • Films made to mock Germans and praise the British. 
  • Photographers not allowed to photograph the dead - appointed in 1916. Given more freedom in 1917.
  • Posters publicised the dreadful deeds of the enemy.
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