Unit 3A: War and Transformation of British Society 1903- 28

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KT1: The Liberals, Votes for woman & Social Reform

This topic will study:

  • Activities of Woman's societies and the reaction of the authorities
  • Children's welfare measures, olad age pensions
  • Labour Echange 1909, The National Insurance Act 1911
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A Woman's Place

  • At the beggining of the 20th centuary woman did not have the right to vote, in general elections. So they had to relpy on an all-male parliment to represent thier intrests as well as decide on matters of national importance. 
  • Most men and many woman belived that that a woman's rightful place was in the home, looking after the children and supporting the Husband. 
  • Some belived that woman were not intelligent enough, to emotional, to be involved in such important matters as politics or business. 
  • A single girl may have a job working as a maid, but married woman were not expected to work. In 1911 only 10% of married woman were in employment. 
  • Attitudes towards woman were changing during the 20th Centuary.
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The National Union of Woman's Suffrage Society (NU

  • By the end of the 19th Century, woman had began to campaign for the right to vote and they became known as suffragists.
  • At this time woman did not have the education to organise political campaigns to win the vote. So the campaigners were usually middle class. 
  • Millicent Fawcett, was married to Henry Fawcett a Liberal MP in 1876. She brought the campaign groups together into the NUWSS in 1897.
  • This organisiation was determined to win the vote through peaceful, legal means. They encouraged men to join to help the campaign. They though by putting thier argument across in a peaceful manner men would change thier minds and deem them suitable to vote. 
  • the NUWSS trained woman to speak at public meetings and support candiates who were in favour of woman's vote. 
  • In 1906 a male member from the NUWSS stood in election. 
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The Woman's Social and Political Union (WSPU)

  • Some Woman from the NUWSS were angered by the time taken to win the argument and they wanted to take more dramatic actions to speed things up.
  • So in 1903 Emmeline Pankhurst, a leading memeber of the Manchester branch of the NUWSS, decided the time had come to take more drastic actions. So with her daughters she founded the WSPU. They belived in 'deeds not words' and were determined to  do anything neccessary to publicise the cause
  • At first the NUWSS supported the WSPU, but thier millitant actions lead to them withdrawing thier support. They thought the millitant actions may put men off. 
  • In 1905 Slyvia Pankhurst, spat at and struck a policeman at a Liberal Party meeting. She was sent to prision. 
  • The Daily Mail nicknamed this new millitant organisation the 'Suffragettes'. 
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Militancy and Protest:

  • It was not only woman who belived that stronger actions were needed. The Prime Minister Henery Campbell- Bannerman, encoruaged them ' not to show the virtue of patience, but to go on pestering'. 
  • At first the Suffragettes' campagin consisted of demonstrations and minor acts of public disorder, e.g. chaining themselves to the railing outside 10 Downing Street, the hired boats and sailed past the house of common distrupting debates. 
  • In 1908 parliament concidered passing a law to allow woman to vote, but did not. So in 1911 parliament voted to extend the vote to woman by Prime Minister Asquith  decided to extend the vote to all men. (In 1911 only minoity of men could vote)
  • Both were horrified and started to react. 
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Protests:

  • The Suffragists  organised a peaceful pilgrimage from Carlisle to London, to show thier disaproval. Thousands of supporters joined the march. 
  • The Suffragettes reacted in a different way. They stepped up thier campaign, adopting even more agressive methods.
  • In early 1912 they started a mass stone- throwing operation in London. At 4pm on 1st March 1912, suffragettes broke hundreds or windows. Police arrested 219 suffragettes and many of them were sent to prision. The court hearing brought more publicity. 
  • Suffragettes began to slash valuable paintings, dig up golf coruses and cricket pitches, set fire to post boxes. They put bombs in warehouses and disused churches. They assulted leading politicians and carried out arson on thier homes. In 1913 another attempt to to give woman the vote failed.
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The Suffragette Derby 1913

  • In June 1913 Emily Davidson went to watch the famous horse race at Epsom, near london. She stood at the rails of the track at Tatternham corner. As the horses thundered by she ran in front of the the horses. She was thrown to the ground and died in hospital a few days later. 
  • Most historians belive that her death was a result of a protest tha 'went wrong'. She was probably trying to disrupt the race as it was the kings horse that hit her and misjudged the seepd at which the horses were travelling. 
  • The Suffragettes, however, imediatly siezed on the event as an example of the commintment of thier members to the casue. Her funeral attracted a huge crowd and was turned to a suffragette celebration of the life of the martyr. On her headstone was written 'deeds not words'. 
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Reactions to the Suffragettes

  • While there was a great deal of sympathy for woman's aim to win the vote, there was also a great deal of opposition.
  • Organisations such as the Men's leauge for opposing Woman's suffrage and the National Leauge for Opposing Woman's suffrage were formed to oppose what the suffrages and the suffrages were doing. 
  • The opposition did not only just come from Men. It came from Woman as well. Such woman might join organisations like the Woman's National Anti- Suffrage Leauge. 
  • Much of the press, opposed Woman's suffrage. Newspapers published 'humerous' cartoons demanding the right to be heard.
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Hunger Strikes

But for woman the campaign was not humerous; now it was to the authorities to stop the violence. The suffragettes' tactics lead to many of them being sent to prision. 

Once they were in prision the suffragettes wanted to continue thier protest. Many of them chose to go on hunger strikes, as they knew this would casue the the goverement difficulties. If the woman were allowed to continue with thier hunger strikes then it would lead to death. Many of the suffragettes were from respectable backgrounds and thier deaths would casue embarrassemnt for the goverement. So they ordered the prisions to force feed them. This involved pushing a tube up the nostril of a hunger striker and down into her stomach, followed by liquid down the tube. This method was barbaric so and casued uproar. SOn in 1913, they passed the Tempoary Discharge for Ill heath act. That said hunger strikes could be released if they become weak. As soon as then regained thier strength they were rearrested to finish thier sentence. Soon the act became know as the cat and mouse act. This was because the suffragettes reminded people of how a mouse is treated by a cat. 

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Suffragettes in the War

By 1914, opinion was sharply divided about the issue of Woman's suffrage. Some people thought it was only morally right that woman should have the vote. Others said that the suffragettes were just showing that woman were irresponsible and the goverement should not give into violence. When war broke out the suffragettes called off their camaign and the goverment released those in prision. Instead they camapigned fo 'woman's right to serve' in voluntary work, factories, agriculture and transport or even as nurses or ambulance drivers on the force. 

In 1918 the representation of the People Act gave woman aged over 30 the right to vote. They could also become MP's. In 1928 woman were given the same voting rights as men. (i.e. all woman aged 21 and over could vote)

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The Sate of the Nation, 1906

  • In the general election of 1906, The liberal party won a landslide victory. The nw goverement was determined to make changes which would help bring improvements in the living and working conditions of the people. 
  • At the begining of the 20th Century, Britain was one of the wealthiest countries in the world. Many people had a high standard of living. More that 1million people had an income of at least £750 a year, but the majority were not so lucky. There was no welfare state and thier lives were far from comfortable. 
  • The Poor: Seebohm Rowntree found that 43% of York's population lived below the poverty line, which he set at an income of around £1  week for a family of five. This meant they did not have enough money to buy proper food, shelter or clothes. 
  • In 1902 Charlie Booth pubished the results of a huge survey carried out over London. He discovered 1/3 of Londoners were living below the poverty line and that there was a link between poverty and early death.
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The Poor

  • Booth showed that most people could cope if they were healthy and in work, but once they suffered ilness or unemployment families fell into severe poverty and often ended up in the workhouse.
  • Workhouses were set up around the country to help those most in need. Conditions were so hard that only the desprate would go there. Food & clothes were very basic, families were split up and work was long and tedious . 
  • Wasn't onlu Rowntree and Booth who provided evidence of poverty. When the goveremnt had called for volunteers to fight in the Boer War in 1899, 40% of recruits were unfit for military service. A royal commision set up in 1905 showed similar results. 
  • So the liberal goverment took steps to help the young, the elderly and the unemployed. 
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Helping the Young

  • The new liberal goverment was particularly keen to ensure that the children of the poor were looked after properly. Although the law had made education compulsory for all children in 1880, there were still many children who didn't go to school, so that they coul work and earn money for their family.
  • School Meals: Many teachers shocked that children were too hungry to learn properly. Some local charity's provided free meals for children but this was not enough. In 1906 the School Meals act told local authorities to provdie free for the poorest children. By 1914 150,000 children were reciving these meals. However only 1/2 of the local authorites set this up. 
  • Medical: In 1907 the goverement introduced the school medical service. Children were to be inspected at least once a year, by 1912 it was free.
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Children's Charter

In 1908 a collection of measures was introduced which became known as 'children's charter'. 

  • It was now illegal to sell alchol, tobacco or fireworks to children under 16. 
  • Working hours for children were limited and they were banned from undertaking certain types of jobs.
  • The children and young persons act of 1908 made children 'protected persons'. Parents could be prosicuted if they neglected thier childrenand it was no longer legal to insure a child's life. 
  • Borstals were set up to keep young people in custody rather in prision. Young ofenders were sent to juvenile courts and a probation system was set up. 
  • Also set up a child care committee to give support to families were children were suffering from poverty or neglect.
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Helping the Sick, Unemployed and Elderly

When Lloyd George became the chancellorof the Exchequer, in 1908 he introduced the 'Peoples buget' where he raised taxes, to pay for new measures the goverement was going to take. 

  • Old age Pension: Looking after yourself when you were eldery was a big worry for many people. Few could afford to save or take out private pensions, so had to rely on chairty or kindness of family and the final resort was the workhouse. The old age penison cat was introdced in 1908 where pensions were introduced for people over 70 and on low income. They wer paid by the goverment and it was a huge relief by 1914 there were 1million penisoners. 
  • The Labour Exchange Act 1909: Goverment was concerned that too many people were in casual work and were frequently laid off. So set up a a scheme where unemployed people could register and employers could find workers. It was much more efficent. By 1914 there were more than 400 labour exchanges and over 1 million registered. 
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The National Insurance Act 1911

The goverement wanted to help workers who became sick or unemloyed. The goverement, the employers and the workers would all contribute to a fund to provide help. 

Unemployment benefits was provided for workers in trades such as ship building and engineering where ocasional unemployment was common. If he became unemployed he could get benefits for up to 15 weeks. The income wsa small as the goverement wanted to help, not just encourage people to aviod looking for work. 

Sick pay was also provided. There was a compulsory ilness insurnace for all those who earned over £3 a week. Each worker had to pay 4d a week, the employer added 3d and the goveremnt added 2d. For this workers could recive up to 10 shillings a week for a maxium of 26 weeks. When babies were born they also recived 30 shillings.

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KT2: The part played by the British on the Western

This section will cover:

  • The BEF and 1914
  • Britains contribution to the war front 1915-1917
  • The end of the war
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The British Expeditionary Force 1914

  • On 3rd of August 1914 the rivalries between Britain and Germany over trade, colonies and military power finally resulted in war. The british goverement sent the BEF, lead by General French to try and stop the German invasion of France through neutral Belgium. 
  • The 70,000 strong force first encountered the advancing German army at Mons in South Belgium on 22nd August. The bEF was heavly outnumbered as the Germans numbered 160,000 men and had twice as many artillery guns as the British. However the british troops were so efficent at firing the Germans thought they had machine guns. But the BEF could do no more than hold up the German advance and was then ordered to retreat to the River Marne. 
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The Failure of the Schlieffen Plan

The BEF had been sent to stop the German invasion of France. That invasion followed a plan laid down by General Schlieffen. The germans planned to invade France, but through Neural Belgium. German forces would sweep through Belgium, round Paris  and then cut off the french capital from the main French forces  in the east of the country. At the same time a German force would fight the main French army on the Franco- German border.

However the progression through Belgium was slower that expected and the German's changed their paln and drove east of Paris to meet the French army marching back to Paris. In the battle of Marne the huge Germn army fought the french, supported by the BEF, along a front 200 kilometers wide. The exhausted German army finally retreated 60 kilometers to the river Aisne. The great advance had been stopped. The schlieffen plan, which relied on defeating the French by capturing Pars before the main French forces cound defend it, had falied.

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Trenches and the race for the sea

  • After the battle of the Marne, German troops dug trenches with machine gun posts on top to protect themselves from attck. The french and british alos built trenches to make sure that the enemy could not outflank them (go round the side of their defence)
  • Both sides began extending the trenches sideways. There now followed a 'race to the sea' as both sides dashed north in the hope of breaking through the enemy had fortifed the area. Neither side was able to. In november 1914 there was a fierce battle at Ypres near the Belgian coast as the Germans tried to smash through the French and British defence. They failed and suffered over 134,00 casulties in the attempt. The winners Britan and France suffered 142,000 casulties. 
  • The failure of the Germans to pierce the Allied defences meant the war quickly became a stalemate. Within months a line of heavily fortified German trenches streched from the channel coast of Belgium to the mountains in Switzerland. Opposite those trenches was a line of allied trenches equally as strong. This 600 kilometre line of trenches became known as the Western Front. For 4 years German and allied forces clashed along this front. Neither side really gained an advantage in that time but millions of soilders lost thier lives trying to. 
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Trench Welfare

In 1914 it had been thought that the war would be fought by quick- moving armies and that it would be all over by christmas. By when 1915 came millions of soilders were dug into strong positions facing equally strong enemy positions. The war had ground to a halt and the generals didn't really know what to do. Each side had dug deep trenches protected by sandbags and barbed wire. If one side wanted to attackt eh other they would have to cross no mans land, exposing themselves. 

Breakthrough: The generals were not sure what to do, but they belived the war could be won on the western front. So they poured huge numbers of troops into the area in an attempt to gain the vital breakthrough. But no matter how many soilders were used, the enemy defences were too strong and the new wepons deised to break those defences not effective enough. So no such breakthrough was ever made. 

Attrition: Soon the policy of 'breakthrough' was replaced by one of 'attrition'. This involved wearing the enemy down so that its supplies of men and equipment were used up before yours. Generals began to calculate wheather a battle would bring more losses for the enemy than for their own army. If it did, it was concidered to be healping win the war. 

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The Battle of Verdun

  • Nowhere was the policy better illustrated that at Verdun in 1916. The Germangeneral Falkenhayn knew that the fortress of Verdun was an important symbol of France's military power and that they would defend it at all costs. The french prime minister told his generals ' if you lose Verdun, I will sacl the lot of you". 
  • Falkenhayn talked of how he would cause such casualties that he would 'bleed the french white' 
  • The German attack began in February 1916 and as expected French casulties were very high in defending the fortess. In mid- July the Germans called off thier attack as the British had lauched the somme offensive. The french had suffered almost 500,000 casulties in that time but the Germans had also lost close to 400,000. Almost a million casulties in the battle which left this much as they were before it had started!
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New Weapons

  • Machine Guns: Britain were slow to accpet the value of the machine gun. The German's had 12,000 machine guns in 1914 and over 100,000 by the end of the war. The british soon realised their mistake and they too built up thier numbers. Machine guns could fire 400-600 bullets a minuite and meant that any attack  across no mans land would be expencive
  • Gas: In April 1915 the Germans launched a new wepon which seemed to solve the problem. In the 2nd battle of Ypres they launched gass shells into the French trenchees and killed hundread of troops. Soon three types of gas were being used.  Chlorine and Phosgene gas casued suffocation. Mustard gad ate away the lungs  and casued slow, agonising death. Soon both sides were using gas and gas masks to limit its impact. As the war progresseed attacks became less frequent. 
  • Artillery Shells: At the beginning of the war, generals had thought that the most effective weapon would be the artillery gun. They could fire into enemy trenches from a distance of 13 kilometers. The british fired over 170 million artillery shells in the 4 years of the war. An artillery bombardment churned up no mans land making it harder to cross. So British developed a system called 'Creeping Barrage', moving foward in stages. 
  • Tanks: Most significant development in the war, first they were rejected. Were first used in the Battle of Somme and they terrifie the German Soilders. Could only move at walking pace and were unreliable. In 1917 they used the tanks to brea through the German trenches and pushed them back 8 kilometers. By 1918 Germany developed piercing bullet, go through. 
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The Somme

In July 1916, the british launched a majour attack on the German lines along the river somme. The british commander-in-chief, General Haig, still hoped to make the 'breakthrough' but most of the generals hoped to just 'kill as many Germans as possible'. Before the attack, there was a 7 day artillery bombardment during which 1 and a half million shells were fired onto German trenches. Haig said that he doubted that even a rat would be alive. 

When the shelling stopped, the British climbed out of thier trenches, and following instructions, walked slowly across no man's land. At first it all went well and there was no resistance. But the Germans had been sheltering underground in specially prepared deep dugouts. When the shelling stopped they rushed back to the trenches and set up their machine guns. As the British walked the Germans emerged from their dugouts to find the British troops 'advancing at a steady and easy pace as if expected to find nothing alive in our trenches'. The next few hours were among the worst in the History of British Army. German machine guns killed 20,000 British troops and wounded almost 40,000 others. The battle ended in 1916.The Germans lost 500,000 men and the british and french lost 620,000. 

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The End of the War

In April 1917 the USA entered the war on the side of the Allies. The Germans knew that once large numbers of American troops arrived on the Western front, defeat was almost inevitable. So they decided to gamble everything on one last all- out attempt to win the war. Half a million men were transfered to the Western front from the russian campaign and on the 21 March 1918 General Ludendorff launched Operation Michael along the rivers Aisne and Marne. Allied troops were pushed back and the people of Paris began to prepare to evacute the city. Allied troops were pushed back and the people of Paris began to prepare to evacuate the city. 

But Ludendorff's army was short of supplies and lacked reinforcements. On 18 July the allied supreme commander, Joffre, launched a counter attack. By this time 250,000 American troops were ariving on the Western front each month. By August the lost land had been recovered and the German's were in retreat. The allies continued to advance, taking huge numbers of German prisioners before the war finally came to an end. The Germans agreed to the Allies terms for surrender. At 11 o'clock on the 11th Day of the 11th Month 1918, the war had ended. 

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KT3: The Home Front and Social Change

This section will include:

  • DORA, Censorship and Propaganda
  • Recruitment and Rationing
  • The Part Played by Woman
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The Defence of the Realm Act

  • DORA:  was introduced by the British goveremnt in August 1914. This law gave the goverement far more power then any other British goverement had ever held before. It was able to sensor what people had heard or read, imprision people without trial , take over economic resources for the war effort and place numerous restrictions on citizen's life. As the war progressed, DORA was added to and greater restrictions were imposed. 
  • Censorship: The goverement wanted people to think that the war was going well. It was essential to keep up morale and this could not have been done if people knew about the terrible losses on the Western front. So letters from the western front were censored and it was against the law to talk about naval or military matters in a public place. Newspapers were also censored and were only allowed to talk about British herosim and german brutality. All news had to be approved by the press and official pictures were made avaliable for the press to use. It was also against the law to speak against the war or damage morale. 
  • Controlling Industry: Goverment was also given the power to force people to stay in jobs which were vital to the war effort. Workers were not allowed to transfer jobs for better pay. This became important during the munition crisis in 1915 as soilders ran out of artillery shells. 
  • Personal Restrictions: DORA gave the goverment the rights to introduce food rationing and also control alcohol consumption. Public house opeing times were restricted. Beer was also watered down. This was done to reduce drunkness and increase productivity. BST was aslo introduced to give workers more daylight hours to work. 
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Recruitment

Once the war broke out, men rushed to join the army and 'do their bit' for the country. Some were worried they would miss the fun if they didn't join up. 

Pals Battalions: At the sart of the war Britains army was tiny compared to Germany. Lord Kitchener, was incharge of raising 100,000 volunteers. By the end of september 1914, 175,000 men had volunteered and for the next year over 100,000 men each month volunteered. Often men from the same town were put together in 'pals battalion'. This clever idea lead to towns comepeting to make sure they did not look unpatriotic compared to their neighbours. Men in these battalions worked together and formed close bonds. But no one ad realised the downside. On the first day of the Somme, of the 752 Accrington pals, 584 were killed, wounded or missing. So in some towns there was hardly a street which hadn't suffered from a loss, showing those at home what it was really like.

The Derby Scheme: The heavy loses in the early years of the war and the realisation that war wsa not 'fun' meant that by the end of 1915 the army badly needed more men. The goverement concidered conscription and set up a national register of men aged 15-65, so they set up the derby scheme where men would join if asked. All single men would be called up first. 

The Military Sevice Acts: In January 1916 the goveremnt passed the act. It said all single men aged 18-41 could be called up and in May 1916 it was extended to married men. 

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Conscientious Objectors

When conscription was introduced in 1916, the goverement realied that if men in some occupations were called up, it would not be easy to replace them in their jobs. This meant the war effort may suffer. So miners and engine drivers were not called up. Some men were not exempted, but still refused to join the army. A small group of men refused to fight becasue it went against their conscience or personal beliefs. They formed an organisation called the British Neutrality Leauge to oppose the war. They were oftern called 'cowards. They had to attend tribunals where they faced tough questions. The tribunals had the power to grant unconditional exemption but usually they allowed them to do non combatant duties. Many preformed with great bravery as ambulance drivers. Others contributed to the war effort by giving service at home. 

Absolutists: Most often tribunals turned down applications completly. So men were liable for call-up as ordinary soilders. If they refused to obey they could be sent to prision. This happened to 1500 of Britain's 16,000 conscientious objectors who were absolutist. They refused to have anything to do with the war and were sent to prision. Some were even sentenced to death, though had their sentences commuted to extend periods of hard labour, working in places such as quarries. 

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Rationing

Although most of the fighting took place on the western front, the 'war at sea' was also important. There were few sea battles between warships. Instead both countries used thier navies to blockade emeny ports to stop supplies getting through. As an island Britain had to rely on its merchant sailors to bring food and supplies from abroad. The germans knew that if thier U-Boats could stop this trade, then Britain could be starved to submission. 

The Submarine Threat: In February 1915 the Germans announced that all merchant shipping entering or leaving British waters would be sunk. This was an optimistic statement as there were 15,000 sailings a week to and from British ports and in 1915 the Germans had only 21 U-boats. By 1917 however the German's had nearly 200 U-boat and were sinking 1 in 4 of the ships bound for British Ports. By April 1917 Britain had only 6 weeks' food supply left. Fortunately, the  use of depth charges and the introduction of the convoy system solved the problem. 

Restrictions: The German submarines reduced the amount of food being brought into Britain. As British farmers could not produce enough food for the whole population, there was a shortage and prices went up. It was only from late 1916 that food became scarce. In 1916 white bread was banned becasue there was a shortage of grain. People were also asked to reduce thier meat consumtion. By 1918 they intoduced compulsory rationing. People were not allowed to give meat to guests or have it for breakfast and guests had to bring thier own sugar. 

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The Role of Woman in the War

'Right to Serve': During the war 5 million men joined the army and woman had to step into their places to keep the country going. Woman took on jobs such as bus conductors, drivers or workers on the railwys. But attituded take time to change. Even the goveremnt were slow to realise how important woman were in helping the country  fight the war. It took until March 1915 for it to draw up a register of Woman willing to undertake work. Even then, not all woman were given work. In fustration, the suffragettes organised a demonstration in London in July 1915 demanding the right to serve. 

Canaries: The Suffragettes demonstration helped to raise awareness of the part woman could play, but it was more the increase in war that brought woman to work. Due to conscription and the losses on the front, it meant there was a shortage of male workers. It had been estimated that Britain was short of 2 million workers once conscription got under way. Employers were very happy to employ woman in office jobs, but many of them doubted that woma could do a good job in traditional engenering ot manufacturing ocupations. It was the goverment that lead the way in employing woman in such jobs. There was a need to manufacture supplies for the war. The goverment employed large numbers of woman to work in munition factories. In 1914 only 125 woman worked in Woolwich Arsenal and by 1917 there were over 27,000 workers. Work was dangerous and sometimes their skin turned yellow. They had good pay, by the end of the war almost 800,000 woman worked in engineering jobs.

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Social Attitudes & Woman in the Force

For many middle class woman, the employment opportunities provided by the war brought them a new independence from thier husbands. Many working class woman were now earning more than before the war. Woman began to wear make up, visit pubs, buy thier own drinks and even wear trousers. Although after the war many woman lost thier jobs when the men returned, a signficant step on the road to equality had been taken. 

Women in the forces: As the war ent on more and more woman took on work in the industry or joinef the Woman's land Army to helpgrow more food. From 1917 woman could work in the armed forces. About 100,000 woman joined the woman's army auxuliary corps, the womans royal air force or the womans royal naval service. A further 23,000 served as nurses close to the front. Woman also played a role in encouraging recruitment. e.g. the Mothers' union took part in a poster campaign to encourage mothers to persuade their sons to join up. Woman also gave white feathers to men who had not joind the forces. These feathers were symbols of cowardice. 

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KT4: Economic and Social Change 1918-29

This section will include:

  • The changing role of woman
  • Industrial Unrest
  • The General Strike
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Equality for Woman- Politics

  • WW1 had provided women with the opportunity to show Men how they could contribute to society. However after 1918 many of the doors which had been opened to them were closed once more. 
  • At beginning of 20th century Britain was governed by Men and largly for Men. The 'perfect woman' was a wife and mother who obeyed her husband and looked after the children. 
  • In politics, woman had made ground. In 1918 woman aged 30 and over recived the vote, and in 1928 the Equal Franchise Act said the vote should be extended to all woman aged 21 and over. There were now more woman voters than men, but woman did not play a majour part in politics for many years. 
  • Politics: In 1918 the parliament bill was passed allowing woman to become MP's. At the 1918 general, out of a total of 1,623 cndidates, only 17 were woman and 1 was elected but she didn't take her seat. The first 3mp's were all elected in seats previously held by their husbands. It was not untill 1924 that a woman became a member of government. 
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Equality for Woman- Work & Social Attitudes

War: Once the war finished, most men expected women to give up thier jobs and return to their rightful place in the home and so did the government. Munition workers were paid off with two weeks extra wages and female civil servants were dismissed. Within 18 months 3/4 of woman who had taken on war work had left their jobs. Many were happy to give up work but others were resentful of the fact that they were expected to return to low-paid domestic work and lose financial inderpendance they had gained during the war. 

Social Attitudes: The belief that woman should give up their jobs when they married reflected the continuing belief that men were the decision makers and breadwinners in society. A woman's main task was motherhood, and employment would not allow proper care of the family. Domestic bliss was married life and motherhood.  Unmarried mothers were seen as a disgrace to the family. In education too, things were slow to change. Most girls left school at 14 and less than 1% were educated beond the age of 18. Cambridge did not give degrees to woman untill 1948. But from 1923 woman could divorce their husbands for adultry but eqaulity was a long way off.

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Industrial Unrest

Pre-War Difficulties: The liberal government elected in 1906 introduced old age pensions, and sickness and unemployment benefits. But it was less sucsessful in industrial relations. Between 1910 and 1914 there was a series of strikes in Britain, many of which were caused by a desire among industrial workers to control the industries in which they worked. In 1910 there were strikes by miners, cotton workers, boilermakers and railwaymen. In 1911 a national rail strike and dockers' strike in Liverpool were both broken up by goverment troops. In 1913, 3 of the most powerful groups of workers in the country, railwaymen, miners and transport workers joined together to form the triple alliance. The agreed to help each other opose any action by goverment or employers which they believed was not in the best intrest of thier members. The wave of industrial unrest which hit britain in the years 1910-14 cme to an end when war broke out. Trade union leaders agreed to 'terminate all existing trade disputes' in order to concentrate on winning the war. However there were still unofficial strikes in parts of Britain and members of trade unions doubled during the war.

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Return to Unrest:

When the war ended, industrial unrest broke out again. Some of it came from unxpected quaters. In 1918 and 1919 the police held strikes to protest against their low wages. During the war the cost of living had alomost doubled, but policemen had recived only a small increase. As a result of the strikes the goverement passe the Police Act of 1919, which made it illegal for the police to strike. 

In the years after the war, strike action became more common and in 1921 more than 85 million working days were lost to strikes. By 1920 there were 8 million worers in the trade unions. Strike actions declined after 1921 as the country went into an economical depression and workers were less prepared to take action which might threaten their jobs. Unemployment rose steadily in the traditional industries where britain had lead the world such as shipbuilding and coalmining. In the period after the war there was less demand for these goods so unemployment rose. 

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Industrial Unrest in the Mines

The greatest problems for the goverment were in the mining industry. During WW1, the government had used the powers given in DORA to take direct control of the mines. So the mines were all controlled by the goverment offering the same wages and conditions of employment. The miners hoped the goverment would keep control of the mines after the war and a royal commision was set up to concider how the mines should be run, it said the mines should stay under goverment control but despite this they returned them back to their previous owners in March 1921, unfortunately for the miners, this concided with a drop in the price of coal. In 1921, prices were less than half of what they use to be in 1920, so they had to cut miners wages by 50% and lengthen the working day. 

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Black Friday & Red Friday

Black Friday: The tripple alliance of 1913 had been renewed in 1919 and in the same year had proved effective in stopping the railway companies from cutting the wages of railwaymen. So the miners' federation asked the railwaymenand transport men for help against the mine owners. A join strike was agreed to happen on the 15 April 1921. But at the last minute the railway and transport workers pulled out, leaving the miners to strike on thier own. Miners called this 'black friday'. They continued with thier strike but on the 1st July were forced to accept the new terms and return to work. 

Red Friday: In 1925 the price of coal fell again and mine owners announced a wage cut and an increase of one working hour a day. The miners' leader A.J Cook, angrily announced that his men would accept 'not a penny off the pay, not a minute on the day!' this time he knew the railwaymen and transport workers would support them and so did the goverment. So on the 31 July 1925 the prime minister Baldwin announced the goverment would provide subsidy to keep wages at current level for the next 9 months 

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The General Strike

In March 1926 the samuel commissions reported. It made 3 main recomendations

1) No increase in working day, 2) wages should be cut and 3) mine owners should begin a program of investment to modernise the pits.

When the subsidy ran out the mine owners reduced wages and tired to increase hours. The miners refued to accept. The trade union congress (tuc) took on negotiations on behalf of the miners and threatened to call a strike of all its members. Talks between the goverment and TUC broke down on 3 May when printers refued to print article for the daily mail. 

So on 4 May Britain's only ever general strike began. The TUC called out dockers, transport workers, railwaymen and workers in gas and electricity. About 3 million people went on strike. On 5 May the goverment launched an agressive propaganda campaign against the strike and began publishing own newspaper called The British Gazette, full of articles on how the strike was not working. The TUC used its paper The British Worker to counter arguments. At first the stike was a sucess with good humor on both sides. The TUC agreed that hospital workers and those who transported food should not be called out. Volunteers began to fill in the gaps left by striking workers. So students and stockbrokers drove buses and tains and women volunteered to work on the post,  around 226,000 volunteered as special constables to keep order. 

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The General Strike

The Mood Turns Sour: After a few days, attitudes began to harden. Angry strikers began to clash with volunteers and some buses were set on fire. The were some clashes between police and strikers in some of Britain's majour cities and police made baton- charges on rioting strikers. The goverment said that Britain was threatened by revolution and the catholic church declared strike to be a sin, was also violent clashes between striking workers and those who chose not to strike. 

The end to the Strike: There was talk of the TUC extending the strike to cut off power supplies. Despite the fact that there was an increase in violence between strikers and volunteers, the miners wanted to see the strike extended. They asked the TUC to call out power workers and so they cut off power supplies. But instead of doing so, on 12 May 1926 the TUC leaders went to 10 downing street for further talks with the prime minister. When they came out they announced the strike was off! It was an enormous shock to the workers and they felt betrayed. 

They had good reasons for its decisions: Realised the goverment was not prepared to be defeated, the TUC had spent £4 million and was running out of funds, but the goverment had spent  £433 million. They were also losing the propaganda war and the TUC had found it hard to see how they could win the strike. 

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After the Strike:

The General strike was over and many employers took the opportunity to cut wages. The miners carried on with thier own strike but were forced to return to work in November 1926. Wages were cut and hours increased. Mine owners took the opportunity to dismiss union leaders. 

In 1926 the government passed the Trade Dispute Act. It made it illiegal for workers to come out on 'sympathy strikes' in support of other workers. It also banned civil servents from joining unions which were members of the TUC. 

The general strike had failed and the unions had been crushed. Workers saw little value in union membership and in the next few years the numbers of workers in trade unions dropped dramatically. 

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