- when war broke out in 1914, Britain had a tiny army
- Lord Kitchener said that they would need an army of 1 million men
- A huge recruitment drive was started
- stirring, patriotic speeches
- huge success - 500,000 men joined up in the first month
- by March 1916, 2.5 million men had volunteered
Why was conscription introduced?
- it became clear that the war would not be over soon
- casualties were mounting
- volunteer numbers were dropping - people were returning home with horrific tales
- volunteers were not going to make up the losses
- January 1916, conscription was introduced for all unmarried men 18-41
- March 1916, this was extended to all married men too
Public attitudes to conscription
- people shared the burdens and risks
- better, as the government could control which men in which occupations were called up
Many men refused to participate in the war as they did not want to kill other humans. If they refused to be conscripted they faced a tribunal where they had to persuade a court that it was not cowardice.
The court could rule in one of three ways:
- the man's case was rejected. He had to fight.
- he could take part in non-combatant service at the front (e.g. stretcher bearing)
- he could do essential war work in Britain
If a man refused to do A, he could be shot. If he refused to do B or C, he could be sent to a labour camp, where some died and many went mad.
Threats on the Home Front
- shelling from the sea
- in December 1914, German battleships shelled Scarborough, Whitby, and Hartlepool, killing 119.
- zeppelins made a total of 57 raids on British towns
- gotha and giant bombers
- Germans made 27 bomber raids, causing 835 deaths