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British Home Front Ww1 Essay, Research Paper

Modern History Assessment Task #1

c) Britains immediate reaction to World War I was a combination of excited anticipation, curiosity and patriotism. The majority of people were swayed by the initial euphoria and the country settled into a state of patriotic unity.

Initially, Britain was sure that the war would be over by Christmas. They had only ever before seen small outbreaks of conflict like the Russo-Japanese War, which was quiet insignificant when compared to the results of the Great War to come. Whether it was soldiers about to leave for the combat or women entering the workforce, the general vibe was ecstatic and eager to contribute.

Britain contributed exceptional support with amazingly high spirits. However, this only lasted until Christmas of 1914. By this time, trenches had been dug and strong defensive positions were in place. The war didn?t seem to be moving anywhere. This caused concern as according to the government the war should have over by now and all the British back at home. By mid 1915 a stalemate had developed. General civilian attitudes started to turn. People were not so confident and patriotic as they once were at the beginning of the war. Wounded soldiers began to return home and stories from the frontline were out in the open. As the war situation began to look grim, the government began to control things like the media and censoring letters that were to reach the home front in order to keep morale as high as possible.

The Gallipoli campaign was the next major attempt to better the civilians? attitudes. Unfortunately the Gallipoli campaign was an absolute disaster. Gallipoli turned out to be eight months of a similar ordeal that Britain went through only a short while earlier in France. Back home the British press were shocked at the failure. As a result, Winston Churchill was sacked from his position and once again high spirits deteriorated.

The lead up to the battle of the Somme yet again improved British citizens attitudes and all were confident of a decisive breakthrough. Yet again it was a story seen only too many times before. Britains great expectations soon turned to disappointment and outrage. On the first day of the battle, sixty thousand British men were killed. The press back home were completely stunned. This was the turning point of the war. The Germans had seized the advantage and blockaded the English Channel with the highly effective U-boat campaign. This had an almost devastating effect as essential food and other supplies were no longer to reach Britain from places like Australia. Britain became desperate, as civilians had lost a great sense of hope as they began to starve to death.

The second full year of war was ending; victory and peace were nowhere in sight. The very effective minister for munitions, Lloyd George felt the government was not doing enough to win. In November 1916, he said privately: ?We are going to lose the war?. Asquith resigned as prime minister and Lloyd George took over. He immediately reorganised the government for the concept of Total War. He set up a small war cabinet of top ministers that he felt could guide the war effort. There were new ministries (Labour, Food, Shipping, Pensions) and many departments and committees. Researchers gathered accurate information about what the country was producing and what was needed to win the war. People didn?t know what to think of the new issues and ways of living brought about by the highly active and motivational Prime Minister Lloyd George. Most followed in his confidence stance and anticipated a change of tune from the frontline.

1916 was known as the year of big offensives. However, it was large-scale on both the British home front as well as the front-line. British citizens both at home and in the midst in combat all shared the similar view that war was hell. 750 000 French and British had died in the campaigns that were meant to win the Great War. Back home, conscription had been introduced, milking every last able-bodied British citizen, leaving only despaired women and shaky-handed seventy year olds working in places such as munitions factories. Governments were doing as much as possible to hold on and maintain morale. Britain was trying to tap every last resource for every last supply. Nonetheless, the struggle to survive was enough. The British beat the German U-boat campaign and spirits were lifted. The entry of the Americans, although small, was also a major boost. In 1918, major allied offensives had driven the Germans back as far as their border. This was without any major effort from the Americans and so was great inspiration for the British civilians to hold on. Victory was once again in sight.

Finally, on the 11th of November 1918, the armistice was signed which signified the relief of the long awaited excitement and eagerness which had ironically greeted the war only four years earlier. The time of excitement of going off to war; anger at the truth of the front-line; the frustration of a stalemate; the deadly anticipation of scanning the daily published casualty lists; the confidence that the next offensive would be the last; and all-round mixed emotions came slowly to a holt on the British home front as soldiers did and did not return to there family and lives they had left behind so long ago.

HISTORY Student #571

Modern History Assessment Task #1

b) The war dramatically changed the lives of woman in both Britain and Germany. In the world of 1914, standards were high that women were ?taken care of? by men?. The idea had been in practice for years that women could not manage their own lives. Nor especially did they think that women could do a mans work. Unlike the Australian women of this time, the British women weren?t even allowed to vote as they were thought to not have a comprehensible mind to be able to have a good understanding of politics. A small group of women called ?Suffragettes? in Great Britain had been advocating the vote for many years. Women in this society had no dominant role but to look after the family, or in the case of the single women from poor families, worked as hands and maids.

The early rush of volunteers to the front-line and later the conscription of men led to a shortage of manpower on the British home front. The early months saw mass unemployment follow the outbreak of war in both sexes. In September 1914, almost 44% of women workers were unemployed.

Over the next few years the situation was somewhat reversed as workers became scarce. There was no one left to fill the places of those who had enlisted but the women. Every day supplies such as food and clothing were not surprisingly needed instantly. Workrooms were set up to teach new skills like dressmaking, toy making and cleaning in order to establish some foundations for self sufficiency, for which they were paid dismal rates in comparison to that of those men and previously enjoyed. Even so, the industry also required more workers, especially after the effect of conscription. Trade unions opposed women taking men?s jobs permanently but almost immediately woman were working in munitions and other factories. Women become bus and tram conductors, railway ticket collectors, postmen, gravedigger, lamplighters, mechanics and even law enforcers. They worked in offices, dockyards, laboratories and breweries and became labourers of the land and farm. One woman helped her father run his business:

?My father was a blacksmith?During the Great War there was no strikers to make the horses? shoes, so at the age of 16 I did all the striking, and between us we managed to keep the Smithy open. At the time I was studying for my matriculation at the Holyhead Grammar School, which means that the horses? shoes had to be made very early in the morning before cycling lives miles to the school.?

Women quickly adapted to there new roles and enjoyed the responsibility that made them feel a part of it all. However some of the labour was very intense and dangerous. Most of all, women worked in munitions factories making weapons of war. The ?munitionettes? as the women were called, were told; ?A munition worker is as important as a soldier in the trenches and on her his life depends.? A French general said; ?If the women in war factories stopped for 20 minutes, we should lose the war.? They were well paid but endured very long hours. They did a large range of jobs, such as making bullets and shells, assembling detonators, polishing the time fuses and shells, and filling the shells with gunpowder. The shells were filled with TNT, which was poisonous, and long exposure to it often turned the skin yellow. People like this were often called ?canaries?. Besides this danger, explosions such as the accident in the London factory in 1917, which killed sixty-nine people, were also common and feared.

Australian women desperately wanted to join the services in order to see combat. Australian women were rejected and so travelled over the Britain were they could engage in work that took them to the front-line. During the war, 25 000 British women worked behind the front-line in organizations such as the First Aid Nursing Yeomanry (FANY) or the Voluntary Aid Detachment (VAD), which involved nurses dealing with some of the worst horrors of the war:

?Sometimes I helped in the operating room. Amputated limbs were simply swept or thrown out into the courtyard?Most of the men were so badly smashed that each needed a nurse to himself.?

Women became basically more able, dependent and self-reliant. Married girls ran the family home on their own. Single girls went to restaurants and theatres with out an escort. Things like dress styles changed to become more practical. Immediately, it was women worried about their menfolk in the armed forces, coping with raising prises and taxes and shortages while often lonely and wondering when it will all end. However, ultimately the war was shaping the women?s future.

Before the war, women had been expected to marry and content themselves with family and domestic work. Then, it was considered unsuitable or a woman to work; now, it was considered unpatriotic not to!

HISTORY Student #571

Modern History Assessment Task #1

a) In Britain, the outbreak of the Great War was greeted with enormous enthusiasm. People were exited, proud and wanted to show their love for their country. Almost immediately, men enlisted through recruiting agencies, swayed by the glamour of fighting a war for your own country. This initial image was insisted by propagandist material such as posters telling men ?Your country needs you!? and ?Enlist now!? Men rushed to join the ?colours?, otherwise known as the regular army. Music halls resounded with choruses of ?We don?t want to lose you but we think you ought to go?? The pressure on men to get into regulation khaki was enormous. It was almost a disgrace to be seen in the street without a uniform. After a few months, it became evident that the allies needed a lot more people than they had to fight with if they wanted to break away from this stalemate that had developed. Men were encouraged to enlist with their pals in order to form ?pals battalions? which may have sounded more inviting. Guilt was also used as a way of encouraging civilians to enlist. Men were ridiculed and called cowards in the street. They usually received a white feather in the male, representing that of a spiritless chicken.

Recruitment was a huge issue that was encouraged, and later enforced through conscription, strongly by the British government.

War forced other changes on the British people. They had to accept the regulations imposed by the Defence of the Realm Act (DORA) passed in 1914. For reasons of national security, the Act also interfered in people?s lives by censoring stories, pictures, diaries, letters, films and sounds from the war front, were censored to only allow British/Allied positives and German negatives to reach the public?s eyes and ears. All the soldiers? letters were read prior to being sent home and the keeping of dairies was forbidden. Censorship was put in place to keep spirits high and sustain popular support for the war in Britain. By showing the public only the positives of war, then there is nothing to reduce the incentive to go off to war cause ?Britain needs YOU!?

Propaganda was a major tactic used on the home front to have people thinking that it is there own duty to go to war and to feel guilty if they didn?t. Many different approaches were taken in relation to propaganda. Images of big, menacing soldiers pointing at you to come and enlist which created a personal involvement. Others showed a father being shammed by his children who ask him what he did in the Great War. Even groups like the socialists, who were pledged to non-violence, most supported the war. Even the suffragettes, after some initial heart-searching, threw themselves into war work. Moreover, the opening of hostilities led to xenophobia ? hatred of foreigners. Propaganda was highly effective in creating an outbreak of enthusiasm

Recruitment, Censorship and Propaganda were all used in conjunction with each other in order to be successful. Posters and signs of propaganda were initially used to recruit soldiers. In fear of civilians becoming disheartened, censorship was introduced to restrict devastating stories from the front so that recruitment remained strong due to a desperate need of soldiers to break the stalemate and launch a major offensive. In a sense, censorship is a part of or essentially a way of propaganda as the theme of war is glorified to encourage enlisting.

Year 12

Modern History

Assessment Task #1

British Home Front


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