In 1914 I don’t think any one person could imagine the affects and consequences that they were about to endure as Britain engaged them with World War One. For the four years that followed Britain and their allies faced a long, hard struggle against Germany and co. This was the first war that involved the whole population of every country, where as before wars were fought far away with professional armies. This war was very different. At first the British public seemed very excited about the up coming war.
Patriotism ran high, especially with the men who were eager to serve their duty for King and Country by signing up to the army at their local town hall or Village Square. Men were keen to show they were doing their part. In August 1914 the secretary of the State for War, Lord Kitchener, aimed to recruit 100,000 men for his forces. Actually by the end of September that year he had an extra 75% men at his disposal than he expected to have. One main attraction was that men saw the opportunity to serve their country and return home as ‘national heroes’ in time for Christmas- the expected ending date for the war.
Even after this early major recruitment boom, men still signed up at the rate of 125,000 a month. As we see, in the photograph, men queued in their hundreds to join up. Even though it was December 1915, nearly a year after the wars’ expecting ending date, men still showed their patriotism. But this photo doesn’t necessarily mean that every man in Britain was taking these actions. As this photograph shows only one recruitment office in one place. And there is no evidence saying that they are other recruitment offices in London.
This could be the only recruitment office in whole of London, so maybe men could have travelled from all over London to sign up. But this is not known for sure. Many people argue that this photograph stunt by the government. At the time of the photo almost a year of the war had passed. Including the horrific number of losses for British troops. Maybe this was affecting recruitment figures- so the maybe the government did publish the photo to encourage men to sign up. But the idea that recruitment did suffer during 1915 is a strong possibility.
In January 1916, just one month after this photo was published; the government passed the first military service act, source A4. This probably means that the photograph was staged- meaning that it is unreliable. But not all men aged between 18 and 41, as the act stated, did sign up. These non-constrictors were better known as ‘conscientious objectors’ and although they would be sent to prison for their actions- or lack of them, they would rather be inside a prison cell than be fighting across Europe.
As a letter written by a non-constrictor, from inside Wormwood scrubs prison describes, ‘in the cause of freedom it is a small sacrifice temporarily to give up ones personal liberty. After all it is only our bodily freedom that we relinquish: our spirits are far freer than the spirits of those accept the yoke of militarism’. These men saw what they were doing as right, and remained in high spirits. I suppose this would have been a difficult task during that period, as non-constrictors were jailed.
As they were doing a disservice toward their king and country they were seen as traitors and regularly assaulted in prison. They were very courageous to stand up for what they believed in like this. Also at the time of the writing, 1916, the war had started to turn. News had returned home of thousands of losses to British troops. People were critical of the war, and for the first time people thought that the war would be lost. So there are many strong factors proving that this letter is reliable. The first people from the British public that were affected by World War One were without a doubt the men.
They were the ones, who were asked and then in January, and later June, the men were ordered to go to war. Although their wives and girlfriends supported them, it was the men who went to the front line. As you can imagine the war also had a major effect on British politics. As it was the government who involved their country into war then it seemed that it would be their responsibility to see that the war campaign would be a successful one. When Britain went to war the four main political parties agreed to unite in the war effort.
By May 1915 serious criticisms had emerged about how the government was managing the war. There was a shortage of shells and David Lloyd George was appointed as Minister of Munitions. He was successful in getting arms to the front line. He was seen as a hero. This is backed up source B2, a picture of Lloyd George that was printed in the magazine Punch. Although a year later in 1916 people were starting to believe that Britain could actually lose the war and began to point the finger at the Prime minister Herbert Asquith-who was also head of the Liberals party.
As we see in source B4 the author, John Davies has written how the war was a disaster for the Liberals. This was because there was a split with-in the party. Lloyd George had secretly plotted with the Conservative party to remove Asquith as Prime minister. Added to this was the pressure mounted by the public who saw Asquith as to old to front the war effort. Asquith soon quit, to be replaced by Lloyd George and with the benefit of hindsight we know that George was successful in leading Britain to victory. However the reliability of the source must be questioned.
The source is an extract from a book entitled ‘a history of Wales’. Therefore this source has been written as part of a general history, not specific to politics. Also as being written in 1993 it was done so nearly three-quarters of a century after the event. However John Davies wrote this for no other reason but to inform, so there need to be for no bias or exaggeration. Although it was written a long time after the event, being a historian, John Davies, would have had to research the incident and had the benefit of hindsight at his disposal.
Even if we aren’t sure what he used as research I still feel this source is reliable as it was written to inform the public of what went on during that time. And the main parts of this piece, that Lloyd George became PM of Britain because of a split with-in the Liberal party was a common fact, and if this was changed or exaggerated on then it would be found out. The change in politics not only affected the outcome of the war but also affected the public it represented and ruled. In 1916, Lloyd George was appointed PM.
He was a strong believer in women rights and of the suffragette movements that pushed for the vote for women in 1917. At that time war was coming to an end and women had moved into men’s jobs helping both the British war effort and to establish the British economy they had a strong case. Source D5 (i) shows that in December 1917 women over 30 were given to opportunity to vote. This article appeared in the working class newspaper the daily sketch at that time. This source is reliable as it is factual account meaning that any incorrect statements could be easily proved wrong.
Although there seems that the tone implies that the paper was in favour of women getting the vote- the article doesn’t really include any opinion. Therefore war brought about many changes to the government. A new Prime minister was appointed halfway through the war, named Lloyd George who installed many new changes. He successfully planned strategies and naval tactics that allowed food into Britain. It was also under Lloyd George government that women earned their right to vote by law. This was a major turning point. Since women were now working in previously male dominated areas, their social standings altered.
Whereas before women would never have dined without the company of her husband or male partner in a report issued by the ‘The daily mail’ April 16th states that women were now dining alone or with friends in restaurants where they discussed work, fashion and theatres. This shows that for the first time women could be capable of having their own social lives, as well as working during the week. On top of this there is no reason why this source would be seen as unreliable. ‘The daily mail’ was a conservative paper as in it did not like change, and could have been against women and their independence.
This source does not show any indication that it is trying to persuade their readers that women with independence is a bad thing. None the less the tone does seem to imply that this newspaper is going to have to accept, like the rest of Britain, the change with women and their social status. After all they were working in ammunitions and supporting the war effort, so their money was well deserved and could be spend how the women wanted. As we see in source C5 (ii) workingwomen were earning nearly ten times as much as a full paid male corporal. A corporal who had gone to a rehabilitation depot for wounded soldiers writes this source.
When he was there he once visited a local pub where some factory girls bought him a drink. He writes how embarrassed he felt because he knew that before the war this sort of thing was unheard of. This source is useful as it shows the conduct of women during the war and how much their standing in society has changed. They were working in men’s jobs, and in some cases earning more money than the men were earning themselves. Although because this source only accounts for one instance where the author found women earning more money than men, we cannot be certain that this was happening all over the country.
Also the reliability of the source is affected because we do not know why this piece of text was written. It could have easily been exaggerated for its purpose. We do know that it was written in 1916. The war had been going on for a couple of years and as its already established women had been working for a long time in men’s jobs. Women also experienced labour in rural employment such as in farming and even the land army. But this source does not seem reliable enough. Although it is an eyewitness account of an experience that a typical man did go through at that time, we cannot go on this one notation that it was.
Also because the purpose of the source is not unclear, there is the doubt that the information could have been exaggerated. However there is no doubt that World war one was a major factor in women achieving equal rights for themselves in both work and social standings. Although the war helped change many aspects around Britain, it had a dramatic affect on changing the attitudes of the British public. As source D2 shows soldiers, such as the writer Siegrfried Sassons, were critical of people that were rich, but did not fight in the war.
Like many war poems, the writers attacked those people who although supported the war, did not directly fight in battle. Siegfried has criticised the seemingly high-class communities. Communities that enjoyed a life of comfort and luxury before the war had taken place. Many of these people did not even work. This poem is important as it shows how attitudes toward those who were better off financially and those who were older, were slipping. Secondly as the writer was a soldier of war, this could have been the viewpoint of other ordinary men who fought.
However the reliability of this source is affected some what because the writers nickname was mad jack. It has recently arisen that mad jack threw away his military cross that he was awarded for bravery. Sensing that unlike other soldiers, he did not conform. Ironically Seigfried actually originated from a high-class background that he much condemns in his poetry. Proving that he perceives his life before the war as meaningless. While it could be argued that he was just being rebellious toward his background after the war, as several groups of soldiers’ did-as the horrors of war had affected their attitudes and their beliefs.
The last issue mentioned; change in beliefs is supported by source D4. This source concerns the troubles that Welsh chapels faced after the war. The text is an extract from a book written by Kenneth O. Morgan entitled rebirth of a nation; Wales. The source describes how particularly the generation of young Welshman were refusing to attend. This decrease in the turnout in chapels was such a contrast when compared to the situation before the war; when chapels were the mainstay of welsh life. Albeit these chapels started having problems before the war because of such factors as debt.
These chapels suffered more with the return of the soldiers from war, the reason being after serving in the trenches in France, they were questioning God? As you can see from the title of Kenneth O. Morgans book, this is not a specific history on Welsh chapels and being written over half a century after the war, surely the reliability must be affected. In saying that being a famous historian, Morgan would have carried out the sufficient research needed, and with the benefit of hindsight, been able to put together a reliable account.
When the war had finished, living standards, as in the boundaries between social classes, were decreasing. For the first time in Edwardian Britain, the rich communities were being criticised for having hardly any part in the war. For this they felt embarrassed, shown in source D3. But more importantly in Britain there was very little unemployment. Source D5 explains how because there were so many deaths during the war, there were plenty of jobs, meaning that even the poorest of communities were bringing in a wage. The historian, Clive Emsley, writes how there was an improvement in people’s health.
This was helped by the introduction of the 1919 ministry of health act, which meant that the government was to check the living conditions of its nation. The government also brought in other acts to improve living standards after the war. The government then passed the 1918 education act and then the 1919 housing act higher the leaving age for school pupils and to provide ‘homes fit for heroes’. There is no questioning the reliability of the source as once again the writer would have used the benefit of hindsight and researched the topic deeply before producing his document.
A document that show the change in social standings, allowing the poorest of families to become better off. Without a doubt probably every family that was living in Britain during world war one felt the affects that came with such hostilities. Whether their men volunteered, or then later ordered, these soldiers lived through war with a first-hand experience of war -on the front line. Of course they had the backing of their women. These women who fully supported the war. They were able to step into their husbands, sons and brothers shoes to work in munitions. With these responsibilities women soon climbed the social ladder.
They were dining out with friends and drinking in clubs. This growth in independence soon led to women over the age of thirty gaining the vote. Although this victory was greatly influenced by Lloyd George, prime minister at that time, but who started the war off as an ordinary MP. His reign as PM was caused due to a split in the Liberal party, inflicted by the public who were pointing the finger at the government when the war started to turn for the worse. Then, not everyone was part of the war. Some, known as conscientious objectors, did not go to the front-line. Instead opting to spend that period inside a prison cell.
Also the high-class communities, even if supported the war, did not directly fight. This led to heavy criticism when the war was over. The war had changed the attitudes and opinions of the young soldiers who had returned from war. They no longer respected those of higher class or older generation as once before. Also these independent soldiers also refused to attend church, questioning god after living through the tortures and horrors of war. Lastly, the end of the war brought with it a change in standards. The idle rich were now ashamed because of their lack of physical support during the war years.
More importantly, because of the amount of losses in the war, jobs were easy to come by. Even the poorer communities had money to house themselves, although they were greatly helped by the many acts passed by the government of the war. Whatever role the people of the British public played in the war, they were affected. Whether they lost a loved one in battle, went to work in munitions, spent that time in prison as a conscientious objector, or even didn’t physically, if verbally support the war. There can be no arguments that the period between 1914-1918 has affected the way British public lived during that time, and ever since.