14.3 The British Home Front during the First World War
Propaganda and Censorship
It was essential to the nation that the people should support the war effort. DORA gave the government the ability to control the newspapers and other mass media that may influence people’s opinions. The government kept parliament in the dark about these events on the front line.
All news from the start of the war was strictly controlled and despite the problems on the eastern front, the British only heard about the victories the British army was having. When the battleship HMS, Audacious was sunk in October 1914, it was simply not published.
It was not until November 1916, that the government allowed journalists to be on the front. The newspapers and editors were the keenest to support the war effort.
Lord Beaverhook – cabinet minister in 1916 became minister of information in 1918 and was seen to be a huge part of the war effort in Britain. Many were given knighthoods in recognition of the role they had played within the war time.
The government also censored information from soldiers at the front who even censored themselves. Sliders usually did not tell families what was happening on the front as they did not want to scare them.
Some independent papers published balanced news articles which initially was tolerated however as the war continued these agents were closed down. Socialist newspapers were carefully monitored by censors.
Censorship also involved preventing sensitive information leaking out to the enemy! In 1916, the government censored:
- 38000 articles
- 25000 photographs
- 3000000 telegraphs
Transport was too, not allowed to give out information on the transport links in Britain.
Leading authors all signed decelerations in support of the war who published patriotic publications for free. These explained why Britain was justified in going to war and the red book sold over 50000 copies.
Children were affected though the use of toys which intended to support the war effort as well as the ability to read many patriotic books and comic. They showed the Germans in a very negative light and portrayed the British to be brave, modest and successful. These sold very well and had t0 be regularly printed. Many were still being printed in 1920s and 1930s and given as school prizes.
British film makers between 1915 and 1918 produced 240 films with only a couple being commissioned by the war department.
- The British Topical committee was one that was set up to make and sell films to…