Edexcel History - Warfare 1854-1929

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  • Created by: Catherine
  • Created on: 29-03-13 19:23

War on the Home Front.

Defence of the Realm Act (DORA):

  • 8th August 1914, on the outbreak of war.

DORA gave the government power to….

  • Suppress public criticism.
  • Imprison without trial.
  • Command economic resources for the war effort.
  • Make it illegal to publish any information which would be beneficial to the enemy.
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Munitions of War Act.

Munitions of War Act:

  • May 1915.
  • Strikes and lockouts prohibited.
  • Wage rates safeguarded, can’t fluctuate.
  • Trade unions had to allow dilution.
  • Profits limited in “controlled industries”.
  • No worker could refuse a new job, if unemployed.
  • No worker could refuse overtime, paid or not.
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Mining Industry.

Mining Industry:

  • The most essential fuel in terms of powering the country and maintaining the British economy and war effort.
  • The Coal Strike 1915
  • Mediation over wages failed, strike in force 14 July
  • 200,000 welsh miners went on strike
  • 20th July, government gave into their demands for local payment increases. 
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  • Government owened.
  • 12,500 women in 1914, 65,000 working on the railways by 1918


  • December 1916, government had requisitioned 50% of merchant ships and all large passenger liners
  • 1918, all merchant ships requisitioned 
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  • Rationing put in place Janurary 1918
  • January 1917, women's land army founded
  • price of bread doubled over the wartime
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  • The attempt to put unskilled and semi-skilled workers in the places of skilled worker.
  • Trade unions couldn’t go against it because of DORA.
  • Cause of a class conflict.
  • Wages reduced in some occupations.
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Military Life.

Military Life

  • Initially Britain only sent out 100,000 members of the British Expeditionary Force (BEF) because the war was meant to be over by Christmas.
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The Somme:

  • 1st July – 19th November 1916.
  • Britain suffered 60,000 casualties on the first day.
  • Britain suffered 420,000 casualties across the whole battle (many from across the Empire).
  • Germany lost 500,000 casualties – more than Britain.
  • German machine guns tore the British forces apart.
  • Britain learnt vital tactical lessons.
  • Tanks used for the first time, successful although got stuck in poor conditions.
  • Creeping barrages were used for the first time (men walking behind a line of bombardment fire).
  • Counter-battery fire used, don’t shot till the opposition shot first.

The break of the Hindenburg Line:

  • September 1918.
  • 46th North Midland division.
  • Broke the Hindenburg line at St Quentin Canal.
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  • Trench rotation system, no more than 2 days in firing line at one time.
  • Tobacco cheap and widely available.
  • Sports.
  • Entertainment put on.
  • Go to the Estaminet (French bar/shop) – buy food, **** and watery beer.
  • Pal’s battalions”.


  • Death penalties still in operation, 346 out of 5,700,000 were executed during WW1. 37 – murder, 266 – desertion.
  • Death penalty stopped mutinies through fear, experienced in the French army.
  • Field punishments, humiliating, test of character.
  • Send back to barracks from trenches.
  • No pay.
  • Could be Court Marshalled.
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  • 12 million men in Britain in 1914.
  • The main aim was to avoid recruitment but it was inevitable as casualties on the Western front mounted.
  • No conscription in 1914 to preserve British liberal values.

Initial recruitment:

  • August 1914 – December 1914, 1.2 million enlisted.
  • Kitchener’s call for men to enlist.
  • 2.5 million copies of 110 posters published in the first year of war.
  • Men formed “pal’s battalions”.
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  • January 1916 – Conscription of single men.
  • May 1916 – Conscription of married men.
  • Many faked their age to join (e.g. 17 to 18).
  • Many were unfit or effected by malnutrition.
  • Doctors would still pass them through the assessments.
  • “If you are fit enough to work, you can sign up”.
  • Nestle offered men 4 weeks’ wages and a job when they came back if they signed up.
  • Allowed people to not fight if they: conscientiously objected, unfit, in “starred” occupations (e.g. mining).

Pressure to sign up:

  • Peer pressure – “pal’s battalions”.
  • Order of the White Feather, women would send objectors white feathers to show their cowardness.
  • Public propaganda.
  • Some would be financially better off in the army.
  • Caused conscientious objectors.
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Conscientious Objectors.

Conscientious Objectors:

  • 1914 – No Conscription Fellowship (NCF) formed.
  • 16,500 men claimed conscientious objection.
  • Men who objected had to still take up a non-combat role or they were imprisoned.
  • 3,300 in non-combatant corps.
  • 3,000 did ambulance work.
  • 4,000 did forced labour in Britain (under the Pelham Committee).
  • 1,500 were imprisoned.
  • Humiliation in the press and from society.
  • Lost the right to vote.
  • Tribunals to see if people were genuine conscientious objectors.
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Further battle notes:

  • It was a “war of attrition”.
  • A stalemate was inevitable because of the “race to the sea”.
  • Trench warfare along the Western front.
  • Machine guns, gas and tanks were used for the first time.
  • Aircraft used for the first time to spy over enemy lines.
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