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British Depth Study Civilians

OCR History GCSE How was British


society changed, 1890-1918?

Outbreak of War

The First World War started in August 1914

The public mood was very positive; people


expected the war to be over by Christmas

Most people felt that Britain would easily win


the war, and it seemed like an adventure

Women were excited about work opportunities

Recruitment

Between 1914 and 1916, 2.5 million men


volunteered for the British Army

This was a result of the recruitment campaign


launched by the Government in 1914

Often whole groups of friends from an area


joined up together as a Pals Battalion

By late 1915, the Government were


considering conscription

Conscription

In January of 1916, military service became compulsory for


all single men aged 18-41

However, in May this was later extended to all married men

According to the act, only those men in reserved


occupations were exempt; this included miners or those
working in munitions factories

By 1918, all men up to the age of 51 were included in this


act

Conscientious objectors were people who refused to fight or


join the army

They were often imprisoned, and had to appear before a


local tribunal to explain their beliefs

DORA

In August 1914, the Government introduced the


Defence of the Realm Act (DORA)

This gave the government power to pass laws


quickly and easily, and take over businesses to
help the war effort

The Government fixed profits and wages of any


remaining industries, including the coal industry

New state-run munitions factories were opened


due to the munitions crisis

By the end of the war, the Government controlled


about 20,000 factories

Food Shortage

The Government encouraged women to work on the


land throughout the war

The nine penny loaf was created to ensure that poor


people could afford food

German U-Boats began attacking ships coming into


the UK, so food shortages became serious

Voluntary rationing was encouraged in 1916 and 1917

These did not work, however, so compulsory rationing


was introduced in 1918

There was a black market, but punishments for this


were very severe

Civilian Casualties

Compared to military casualties, there were


relatively few civilian casualties

However about 1,500 civilians were killed


throughout the war

In late 1914, German warships shelled towns in


North East England

In early 1915, Zeppelin airships began bombing


raids on England

There were 57 raids

In May 1917, German Gotha bombers began the


first of 27 raids on British towns

Propaganda

DORA allowed the government to control all propaganda


that was released

A lot of propaganda was targetted at children through


books, games and toys; this seems to have been the
most effective

Official films aimed to persuade people to contribute to


the war effort and mocked the Germans

Posters and cartoons always avoided explicit description


of the war

Official photographs were not allowed to show the dead


or dying; many soldiers laughed at these because they
did not represent at all what life was like for them

Newspapers

Newspapers were heavily monitored

The pacifist Newspaper The Tribunal was shut


down

They used slang to keep morale high

The press did not publish bad news early on in


the war

No casualty lists were published until May


1915

Newspaper correspondents were not allowed