impact on the home front

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  • Created by: Ellie
  • Created on: 17-05-14 23:21

DORA and gov control

Defence of the Realm Act (DORA): introduced august 1914 - gave gov far-reaching powers to decide where people worked, control industry, censor the press and control food production and supply


  • relied on imports so were suffering shortages and prices rose - not helped by germanys unrestricted submarine warfare
  • prices of most basic foods doubled between 1915-1917
  • gov reluctant to introduce compulsory controls on food and initially introduced voluntary rationing but had to introduce compulsory rationing by 1918, e.g sugar in jan 1918

Control of alcohol:

  • gov introduced measures to deal with drunkenness, hangovers and perceived problem of women drinking more due to independence and more money to spend
  • Intoxicating Liquor Act - august 1914 - restricted pub opening hours
  • Central Board of Control - jun 1915 - restricted alcohol sales in certain areas - affected 93% of the public
  • sales of beers with chasers and buying rounds of drinks prohibited
  • gov raised costs - beer and wine cost more than tripled and spirits quintupled
  • middle class started consuming cocaine and the gov introduced import controls on the drug for the first time
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  • Territorial Army prepared for war, army relied on volunteers and needed men due to large casualties, such as the first ypres where the BEF sustained 50,000 casualties
  • Secretary of State for War - Lord Kitchener - predicted he would need an army of 1 mil men - gov reacted by allowing army to recruit an additional 500,000 men and target achieved by sept 1914
  • by nov 1914 - recruitment of another million soldiers authorised
  • pals battalions successful early on in war - e.g. Accrington pals - many were killed in 1st day of somme
  • patriotism dampened down and men were encouraged to enlist through gov propaganda or pressure from others such as employers
  • 2.5 million men volunteered for brit army during war
  • Lord Derby (director general of recruiting) created Derby Scheme when recruitment fell - all men aged between 18 and 41 had to 'attest their willingness' to serve in the army if asked to do so - encouraged many to join - however 38% of single men and 54% of married men not in reserved occupations (not in industry vital to war effort) didn't sign up
  • Military Service Act - jan 1916 - all unmarried/widowed men between 18-41 were conscripted - later extended to married men - not including those who were in reserved occupations or unfit to work
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support/opposition for war

  • more strikes after 1916 - 5.9 mil working days lost in 1918 - however most due to economic issues and still substantially lower than pre-war level

Conscientious Objectors:

  • refused due to religious faith (e.g. quakers) or political belief/conscience (e.g. pacifists)
  • NCF (no conscription fellowship) established 1914 - to represent those who objected - campaigned unsuccessfully against the introduction of conscription - also monitored treatment of CO's, and promoted their message through newspapers and contact with MP's
  • CO's allowed to be part of non-combatant corps - e.g. stretcher bearer
  • 2nd military act allowed them to be exempt from any contribution - 16,100 people registered as CO's under this act
  • tribunals unsympathetic to them - death, imprisoned or put to work
  • some worked for Pelham Committee - established by gov to allocate work to CO's
  • 6,300 CO's served non-combatant roles on Western front
  • 73 conscientious objectors died in custody (evidence of mistreatment)
  • 1,500 absolutists jailed
  • through propaganda gov encouraged people to take negative view on CO's - lazy and unpatriotic
  • young men who didn't fight were jeered at or given a white feather denoting cowardice
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war economy

  • more gov controlled - army couldn't enlist people in reserved occupations (e.g. coal mining)
  • profits in war industries not permitted to exceed those on 1913

Munitions: Ministry of Munitions formed 1915 - coordinated prices and production of munitions and purchase and supply of raw materials such as steel - by 1918: 3 mil munitions workers in 20,000 factories

Mining: problems with labour shortages and disputes between miners and mine owners - huge mining strike 1915 - resulted in extension of gov control over South Wales mines

Transport: Railway Executive Committee ran railways and troops were transported for free - gov gradually took over merchant shipping and by 1918 almost all merchant ships were under gov control

Agriculture: huge food shortages and rising prices - gov introduced rationing and measures to boost production - Board of Agriculture used 2.1 mil extra acres of land for food production - Agricultural Executive Committees supervised farmers work

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war economy - impact on workers

Trades Union Congress agreed restrictions on workers rights 1915:

  • workers agreed not to strike for duration of war
  • wage increases to be authorised by gov
  • gov could direct workers to certain jobs
  • workers couldn't leave jobs without permission of employer
  • workers couldn't refuse to do overtime

in return:

  • wage rates safeguarded
  • profits in war industries were limited
  • employers had to agree to arbitration in labour disputes (involvement of 3rd party)
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impact of war on women

  • transport: 12,000 in 1914 and 65,000 in 1918
  • Women's Land Army (WLA): formed jan 1917 to work in farming and forestry
  • civil service: 33,000 in 1911 to 102,000 in 1921
  • munitions industry: 80% of munitions were produced by women - dangerous work
  • 'dangerous' and 'unwise' to employ women to work on trams according to tram workers
  • agreement to women in work was achieved on the understanding they would leave after war
  • employers sometimes preferred hiring women because could get away with paying them less
  • 23,000 nurses in military hospitals by 1918 - supplemented by Voluntary Aid Detchaments (VAD's) - 38,000 women volunteered as nurses, ambulance drivers and cooks
  • First Aid Nursing Yeomanry (FANY) helped at front line with ambulance, car and truck driving
  • VAD's and FANY's tended to be middle/upper class and not paid for work they did

after war:

  • women granted vote october 1918 - women over 30 while men could be 21
  • womens union membership increased 160%
  • many women forced out of jobs on mens return
  • womens pay remained only half that of men
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  • newspapers used to spread propaganda to retain public support
  • Department for Infortmation set up which included a Propaganda section and a News Bureau which censored press stories and issued D-notices (warnings not to report on certain items on national security grounds
  • there was a push for war correspondents to deliver reliable news reports - military authorities concerned that it would damage morale - however in spring 1915 4 correspondents were allowed to report from France
  • issues with reliability of war correspondents' accounts: cooperated fully with miltary authorities therefore not objective reports (5 correspondents received knighthoods after the war) and reports often downplayed the suffering of soldiers
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public attittudes

anti german feeling:

  • the John Bull and Daily Mail stirred up anti-german feeling and some german businesses were attacked - the attacks intensified when germans sank ship Lusitania 1915 - drowning many civ passengers
  • press seized opportunity to depict germans as barbaric - some were genuine such as the sinking of Lusitania and the execution of Edith Cavell (nurse shot as a spy by germans for helping british prisoners of war escape)
  • press made exaggerations: the Times made a report saying that germans were using the dead bodies of soldiers for oils and pig fodder


  • films about war made up 10% of films shown in Britain during war
  • popular film: The Battle of the Somme (1916) recreated scenes from battle
  • newsreel footage gave cinema audiences info about nature of war
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