History - First World War

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How Were Enough Men Found To Fight?

  • 4th August 1914 = Britain declared war on Germany.

How were enough men found?

  • Britain had a small army of 250,000 professional soldiers. Lord Kitchener who was he secretary of state for war told the government they would need 1 million men. 
  • The Government did a massive recruitment drive, set up recruitment offices in every town, made posters, pamphlets urging people to join. Politicians toured the country doing stirring, patriotic speeches. 
  • So successful, that there were too many men for equipment. There was so much enthusiasm, orchestras, football teams and bus depots joined together and the army kept them together and called them 'Pal's Battalions'. 
  • In the first month, 500,000 men signed up and by March 1916, 2.5 million had joined. The army benefited from the recruiting campaign ofcourse.
  • However, families were deprived of husbands/fathers/sons. Whole villages and town lost almost all of their young men on the same day. The men, some of who wouldn't return, and those who did would be scarred for life.
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How Were Enough Men Found To Fight? (2)

Conscription :

  • It became clear the war wasn't going to be over by Christmas. Casualties increased so the dead/wounded needed to be replaced.
  • In January 1916 : Conscription Act which made it compulsory for all single men between the ages of 18 and 41. In April, it became married men aswell.
  • Between 1916-1918, one in three men were conscripted. Conscription was seen to be fair because people from different sections of society all had to go and therefore mining etc could still be carried on. 

Conscientious Objectors : 

  • Men, for humanitarian/relgious reasons could not kill another being. They had to convince a tribunal that their reasons were genuine. Once convinced, they worked in non combatant services.Men who refused to do that were sent to labour camps or imprisoned. If they didnt convince: sent to army, if they didn't fight, they were court-martialled and shot. 
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Why Did Men Join Up + Arms/Invasion.

  • Persuaded by the propaganda.
  • Get away from a dead-end job.
  • Get away from families or wives.
  • To share in the excitement.
  • They believed it was their duty. 

Shells, Bombs, Threats of Invasion

  • Shelling from the sea : December 1914, German battleships shelled towns along the coast like Scarborough, Whitby and Hartlepool. 119 died.
  • Zeppelins : January 1915, German airships began bombing raids on Britain. Big, silver, cigar-shaped zeppelins were 200 m long and could carry 27 tonnes of bombs. They did 57 raids, killing 564 people and 1370 injured.
  • Gotha, Giant Bombers : May 1917, German gotha bombers raided Folkestone killing 95 people. Next months, they raided London, killing 162 people. 
  • Alltogether, they did 27 bomber raids, killing 835 people and injuring 1990.
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  • Death and destruction brought to the mainland showed that everyone was now at risk, regardless of age, sex, social hierarchy.
  • Shelling and bombing of the east coast towns made people fear that the Germans were going to invade.
  • The attacks on the coastal towns were a surprise so the government installed searchlights, anti-aircraft guns and barrage balloons. 
  • Detailed, highly secretive instructions were prepared and sent to the military commanders on the coast. 
  • When the threat of invasion was over, the instructions were handed back in envelopes and destroyed, one went missing. 
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How Was Britain Organised For

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