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The following two pages offer the basic
facts you need to know about the Home
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Add extra information to these basic
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A simple guide to the Home Front
Why did Men join the Army?
When War broke out on 4 August 1914 the British government did not have to
worry about getting soldiers. In September 1914 500,000 men volunteered for the
army. Why?
The Great War
•August 1914-1918. Fought in trenches – mainly in France and
•1 million British men died. Machine guns, gas and barbed wire were
used in the bitter trench fighting.
•Battle of the Somme 1916 – bloody battle – no one really won. 20,000
men killed on first day.
•At home the people faced bombing from planes and zeppelins
•Britain’s coast was blockaded by submarines – u-boats. This led to
•The German navy bombarded Hartlepool and Scarborough.
Key Events
August 1914: War declared. Defence of the Realm Act (DORA)
Autumn 1914: Women become police officers.
December 1914: Scarborough and Hartlepool shelled by German
They wanted to join the war before it was all over
They wanted excitement
They wanted to defend the country
They believed it was their duty
They wanted escape boring lives and poorly paid jobs
They wanted to be with friends
They were bullied or intimidated by friends and relatives
How did the Government Try to Encourage Soldiers to Volunteer?
The Government launched a huge recruiting campaign to get men to join up. They
used a number of techniques:
mPosters showing brave men fighting in the army
mPosters mocking men who did not join up
mPosters encouraging women to make men join up
mNews stories about how evil the Germans were so that men would want to fight
mSongs and poems
mNewsreel stories were used to encourage men to join up
January 1915: First Zeppelin raids.
July 1916: Battle of the Somme. Lloyd George becomes Minister of
Munitions after the army nearly runs out of weapons because of poor
production in factories.
These techniques did work for a while and recruitment went up in early 1915.
However, by later 1915 it was obvious that the war was not going to be over
quickly. Equally the horrors of the war were discouraging men from joining up.
January 1916: Conscription introduced.
The government was now faced with a major problem. If they could not get
soldiers the war would be impossible to fight. The Government asked Parliament
to introduce conscription – forced men to join the army.
December 1916: Lloyd George becomes Prime Minister.
February 1917: Women’s Land Army formed – to get women to work
on farms.
April 1917: Food shortages.
November 1917: Voluntary rationing introduced.
February 1918: Compulsory food rationing.
November 1918: End of War.
In January 1916 the British Government introduced Conscription for single men
between 18 and 41. Three months later this was extended to married men.
However, some people said that no one should be forced to fight and that it was
very “un-British” to make people fight.
Conscientious Objectors
Food Production and Rationing
Some men refused to fight because of their beliefs or religion. These men
were known as conscientious objectors or “conchies”. These men were
often given other jobs such as ambulance driving or working in essential
industries. However some even refused to do this and they were put into
prison. Conscientious Objectors had little sympathy in Britain.
Britain found it hard to feed the British people. German U-Boats
(submarines) were blockading Britain so food was in short
supply. Also the soldiers were taking up lots of food. Again the
government needed to take action.
Defence of the Realm Act 1914
DORA was passed by Parliament in 1914 and it gave the government wideranging powers. The Government could:
Control what was shown in newspaper and films.
Take over land and factories and land for war production
Control what was produced in factories
Direct where people worked
Control pub opening hours
Plus many other powers…
More land was put under cultivation and women were employed
on the farms. Government campaigns encouraged people not
to eat as much. However, food was in short supply and prices
were very high.
Early in 1918 the Government introduced compulsory rationing
of meat, butter, sugar, cheese and beer. This was seen as fair
by many people because it kept prices down so all people could
have a fair share.
People who broke the rationing rules were heavily punished.
Production and Industry
Enemy bombing
In 1915 there was a major crisis in the war when the British
army almost ran out of ammunition. There was an outcry in
Parliament and Lloyd George was made Minister of Munitions.
He took control of industrial production and reorganised it. He
negotiated deals with factory owners and Trade Unions. He
paid the workers well and brought women into the factories.
The Government took control of most aspects of industrial
The Germans did launch some attacks on Britain. In
December 1914, German ships killed 119 people when they
shelled Scarborough, Whitby and Hartlepool. After 1915
German Zeppelin Airships and Gotha bombers attacked British
cities killing over 1000 people and injuring over 4000. This led
many people to fear that the Germans would try and invade
Britain. However, most people were safe from these attacks.
Propaganda and Censorship Under DORA the government could control the information the people were allowed to see. This
was a valuable way of keeping people behind the War. There were lots of ways of using these powers,
Controlling the News: The government controlled what the newspapers told the people about the war. Bad stories were kept out
of the news and good ones given more emphasis. In many cases the newspaper owners simply agreed not to print bad news.
Controlling Film: Film was becoming very popular and again the government controlled what was shown at the cinema. They
censored pictures from the war and made their own films that gave a one-sided view of what the war was like. The most famous of
these films was the 1916 film “The Battle of the Somme”.
Propaganda: The government produced large amounts of propaganda to win support for the war. Posters, postcards and
cartoons were all used. These methods were also used to encourage men to join the army, recruit women into the factories,
spread ideas about cutting food usage and raise money for the war.
Children: Many toys and games for children were based around the war and helped encourage young people that the war was
worth fighting and that the Germans were bad. There were also schoolbooks and songs for children to encourage their support for
the war.
Did the Propaganda work? People did generally support the war, but we do not know whether this was because of the
propaganda. What we do know is that people did buy the newspapers, postcards and other products and films such as the Battle
of The Somme were very popular.
Women at war:
When the war broke out women were encouraged to be good wives and mothers – keep traditional roles.
By 1915 the war was going badly and they had to look for more soldiers and workers. This meant women were
brought into the factories and onto the farms.
Men were not always happy with this: they disliked working with women as it changed the atmosphere. Men feared
women would take their jobs for lower pay.
Women worked in munitions factories making weapons – this work was dangerous and some were killed or
poisoned by the chemicals. Women also worked on farms, as police women, bus drivers and bank clerks.
After the war women lost their jobs and went back to traditional roles.