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.
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.
- 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.
- 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
- Rationing put in place Janurary 1918
- January 1917, women's land army founded
- price of bread doubled over the wartime
- 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.
- Initially Britain only sent out 100,000 members of the British Expeditionary Force (BEF) because the war was meant to be over by Christmas.
- 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.
- Trench rotation system, no more than 2 days in firing line at one time.
- Tobacco cheap and widely available.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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”.
- 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.
- 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.
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.