Civilians War


HideShow resource information

How easy was it for the government to raise an arm

The Problem

In 1914 Britian only had a small army (about 25,000) called the British Expeditionary Force. Lord Kitchener, the Secretary of State for War wanted at least 1 million men.


  • At first campaigning was launcehd to persuade men to volunteer. Poster and speeches by politicains were used and recruiting offices opened in every town. Friends and workmates were encouraged to join together and they were promised to be kept together. 
  • Propaganda played a big part in recruitment.
  • In the first months 50,000 men joined up
  • By the end of 1915 numbers had slumped, in December 1915 less then 50,000 men were recruited. 
  • In all 2 millions men were enlisted. 
1 of 8

How easy was it for the government to raise an arm


  • In Jan 1916, the First Conscription Act was passed by Parliament - all single men between 18 and 41 had to join up.
  • In April 1916 in extended to married men
  • By 1918 one man in three had been conscripted. 

Conscientious Objectors

  • These were men who for religious or moral reasons refused to join up.
  • They had to go in front of tribunal and put their case.
  • If the tribunal believed them, they were ordered to drive ambulances or do other essential war work .
  • If the tribunal did not, they were ordered to join the army.
  • If they refused, they were imprisoned or shot. 
2 of 8

What was life like for the Civilians in WW1?

  • Role of women change ---> new freedom ----> encouraged men to join the army ----> 1 million women worked in munitions.
  • Death of loved ones had a massive impact ----> nearly every family had lost someone.
  • Zeppelin raids killed 2,000 ----> safety of Civilians was very low
  • DORA ----> Defence Of the Realm Act
  • Rationing of food
  • Government propaganda 
3 of 8

Was life awful for everyone in WW1?


  • Loads of people lost their lives
  • Family members killed
  • Women working in munition factories
  • Hospital workers
  • People in south died fro Zapelin raid


  • Women got the freedom they never had
  • Women earned money and had independence
  • Propaganda prevented some children knowing what was happening
  • Government got support of most of the nation
  • Business men
4 of 8


In 1914 the government passed the Defence Of the Realm Act. It gave the government an enormous amount of power to control all sorts of areas of everyone's lives. It was thought necessary to allow the government to keep the country's economy going so that troops would be supplied and the people fed. 


Mining - The government immediately took control of the Mining Industry so that mines were run not for private profit but for the war effort. Later miners were not conscripted into the armed forces but kept down the mines.

Railways - These were vital for troop movement and so were taken over and run as a single unified system.

Munitions - In 1915 fighting got bagged down in the trenches. Troops were rationed to  three round of ammunition and guns did not have enough shells to maintain the barrage. Recruits had to train with wooden swords instead of bayonets. CONTINUED ....

5 of 8


Lloyd George was made Minister if Munitions in a coalition government. He took the following action to end the crisis:

  • Set up new National Shell factories
  • Existing factories were taken into government control
  • Women were brought into the work force
  • Wages and prices were set by the government 

As a result by the end of 1915 the army were well supplied for the duration of the war. 

Shipping - In 1916 Lloyd George became PM and set a Ministry for Shipping. This ministry requisitioned ,merchant ships for vital imports. it increased the rate of shipbuilding and introduced the convoy system to protect Merchant ships from the U boat attacks.

6 of 8


Food - In order to ensure that enough food was available the government set up the Women's Land Army to recruit women as farm workers. Farmers had to be persuaded to convert pasture to arable land. BY 1918 an additional 3 million acres of land had been brought into cultivation.

Even so due to the U boat campaign in 1916 Britain was down to nine weeks supply of wheat and four days of sugar. Prices rose and the rich stockpiled food while the poor had none. Queues were long and shops shut in the afternoon once stocks were sold.

A Ministry of Food was set up to subsidise the price of bread and introduced the 9 penny loaf. Posters were published to encourage people to eat less break and it was never rationed.

Voluntary rationing was organised by local food committees and an example was set up by the Royal Family.

Compulsory rationing of mean, sugar, butter and beer was introduced in the early 1918. This continued for a short time even after the end of the war. 

7 of 8

How were civilians affected by the violence of the

This was the first war in which there was major civilian casualties. Shelling began in sea. In December 1915 Zeppelin battleships attacked Scarborough, Whitby and Hartlepool - there was 119 casualties. 

In January 1915 Zeppelin raid followed East Anglia. Altogether 57 raids claimed the lives of 564 people while twice as many were injured.

May 1917 saw the beginning of Gotha Bomber Raids. 27 raids killed 835 people and injured nearly 2000. 

This scale of attack was unexpected and led the government to prepare for full scale invasion. 

On top of all of the disruption to ordinary life, people had to live with the constant fear of death. Nearly 750,000 men were killed and thousands more were injured. All families in Britain knew someone who had been skilled and this added tragedy to their lives. 

8 of 8


No comments have yet been made

Similar History resources:

See all History resources »