With growing numbers of men joining the British armed forces during the

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Before First World War women had few rights. But their experience in the Great War had changed that forever. Their views towards life changed or improved. By the middle of the 19th century, women were demanding equality with men. They wanted suffrage - the right to vote in elections - and an equal chance to work and get educated. They demanded the right to have their own possessions, to divorce their husbands, and to keep their children after divorce. The fight for women's rights was also called feminism, and involved many dedicated women.Thse changes were mainly a cause ot WW1.
During World War I (1914 - 1918 ) the women worked to keep factories going while the men fought. They proved that women were just as capable as men.
In 1918 British women over 30 got voting rights. Two years later, in 1920 the United States granted vote for women over 30 as well. By 1950 they could vote in 69 countries; by 1975 in 129. Today women have the right to vote almost everywhere except for a few Arab countries, such as Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates. New horizons and new roles opened up for women, thanks to the effect of World War I.
Many also worked as nurses , and they served in hospitals in the U.S. and overseas 
and had to follow the soldiers to the front nd help them when needed- and they needed help all the time.
Those nurses who did serve were in Belgium, Italy, England and on troop trains and transport ships. Army and Navy Nurse Corps women served valiantly throughout the war, many received decorations for their service.
With growing numbers of men joining the British armed forces during the 
First World War, the country was desperately short of labour. 
The Government decided that more women would have to become more
Involved in producing food and goods to support their war effort. This included the
establishment of the Women's Land Army. Some farmers resisted this measure and
in 1916 the Board of Trade began sending agricultural organizing officers around
the country in an effort to persuade farmers to accept women workers. This strategy
worked and by 1917 there were over 260,000 women working as farm labourers.
A Quick summary

The war affected women in a number of ways. For one thing, women were allowed to enter the work force. Many women went to work in factories and as trolley car drivers. Other women went to work in the fields. Many women became nurses. However, most women did not enjoy this line of work. 

During the war women became an important part of the work force. Since most of the men were off fighting, the women were needed to stay home and run things so that the ecomony would not completly fall apart. However, things were not easy at the home front. 
Many women lost men in their lives, their husbands, brothers, and fathers. Before the war, women mostly depended on men for finiancial support. But with so many gone to battle and then dying, women had to to go work just to support themselves.
During the war, women were also viewed as important. Images of women on posters and postcards were to provide inspiration for the men in battle. The belief was that when a man saw the image of a woman he would be reminded of what he was fighting to protect. But he would also get a sense of comfort thinking about his loved one at home.
Society also wanted women to focus on having children. With so many people dying there would be a population decline. In order to keep the population numbers up, women and men were asked to reproduce.
During the war there were many things that women were asked to do: go to work, volunteer, have kids, etc.
However, the role of women did not remain this way after the war. Once the war was over and the men began to return home, women were expected to return to the kitchens and hearths as before. 

Impact of WW1 on civilians

The reaches of World War I were far not only in an intercontinental sense, but the idea that World War I was "total war".

On the Eastern and Western front alike, civilians were exposed to enemy occupation and often had to endure brutal conditions on the part of the enemy occupier. Civilians who were forced to live under the occupation of an enemy were over deported or forced to do hard labor to support the enemy war effort. The civilian population was forced to be exposed to these harsh treatments because of the unusual brutality of World War I. When the war began, Russian mobilized quickly and was on the doorstep of East Prussia before the Central Powers knew what to expect. Russia moved in and conquered part of East Prussia in late 1914, where many civilians were transported back to Russia for labor purposes. Jews in East Prussia were exposed to especially harsh treatment from the Russia army, though when the Germany army came to help it did little to alleviate the problem. As the Russian army retreated, they burned all the materials and land they could not carry with them, irrevocably damaging the civilian population there for many years. This pattern was seen throughout the entire Russian retreat.

The invasion of Belgium by the Germans brought Great Britain into the war. The Germans used the land of Belgium as a part of the Schlieffen Plan to attack France from a different flank. As the Germans invaded, many

Belgians were able to flee and live in Great Britain or unoccupied parts of France. The German army was known for forcing the Belgians to do hard work. The German soldiers were so worried of an uprising or sniper attacks in Belgium that they were especially harsh on the civilians there in an attempt to protect themselves. Many civilians, including men, women, and children were killed because of German suspicion that these civilians were guerilla fighters. The Reims Cathedral in Belgium was hit with artillery shortly after the German occupation and burned cities that killed countless civilians. Similar results were seen in German-occupied French lands. The French civilians there were exposed to the same harsh treatment and were isolated from the rest of the country after being invaded by their enemy.

Poland had an usual experience during the First World War. Poland was conquered three different times by three different powers, and each of these powers used Polish civilians and recruited them. Over one million Polish civilians were forced to fight among three different armies, creating tension and internal strife. When Poland was controlled by the Central Powers, it was divided among the Austro-Hungarian Empire and the Germans, and Germany established a new kingdom in Poland in a hope to have them join the Central Powers, which failed. When Poland was invaded, a few cities were destroyed and throughout the Eastern Theater of the war the Central Powers used the Eastern European Region for its resources. After Romania was conquered just a week after joining the Allied Powers, Germany began using Romania for economic purposes, taking crops and Romanian oil to support their war machine. Serbia was overrun by the Central Powers in two months, and after being seen as the cause of the war by the Central Powers, it was divided between Austria-Hungary and Bulgaria and exposed to especially harsh treatment, some of which saw Serbian uprisings against the Central Powers.
In October, 1914, Herbert Hoover began the Commission for Relief in Belgium to send assistance to the Belgians who were forced to live under the German occupation. The atrocities in Belgium were used by the Allies to plead for American help, using propaganda such as referring to the Germans as barbarians to sway American public reaction in the favor of the allies. Several millions of tons of food were brought to Belgium to feed the people living under occupation, which was successful in many areas. Belgium was easier to access because of its vicinity, and Eastern Europe was more difficult to bring relief to until America joined the war. When the United States joins the First World War they are able to more efficiently bring military and economic relief to Eastern Europe and liberate them from the harsh treatment that both Allied and Central Power civilians felt universally.By the end of WW1 civilians in some of the big cities, especially Vienna, were close to starvation. Their condition was utterly wretched.

In Hungary conditions were somewhat better, but the country was sliding towards a Bolshevist revolution, bloodshed and foreign intervention.

The effect that World War I had upon civilians was devastating. WWI was a war that affected civilians on an unprecedented scale. Civilians became a military target. The economic impact of WWI meant that there were shortages of all produce, most importantly food. Consequently, rationing of bread, tea, sugar and meat was introduced in 1918. This was widely welcomed by the british public, as a voulentary rationing system had been introduced a year before, and people were eager to see their neighbours taking part as they were. Living standards plummeted, and the post-war economic state of europe was at mid 19th century levels. During the war, 8 to 10 million soldiers were killed in battle, and 22 million were injured. This meant that nearly every family lost someone. Population losses were enormous. Propaganda at the time also gave the false impression to the public that everything was ok, when in reality so many people were dying. However, under the strict rules of DORA, people were never to know this. This became clear after the Battle Of The Somme, july 1st 1916. 60,000 were injured and 20,000 were dead. This incident was famously made into a film. However, it had a major impact on the British civillians, as this-along with Siefried Sassoon's anti-war poetry, made a hole in the government's propaganda. The public were finally beginning to see the reality of the war.

World War One also had a large impact upon the role of Women. With all the men at war as soldiers, Women began working for a living. This became crucial in 1915, as the munitions crisis began. Not only were women working in factories and coal mines, they were called upon to tackle yet another issue. After the german submarine blockade in 1917, Britain was unable to import goods-including food. The Women's Land Army was formed in 1917. They strove to maximise the country's outcome, and to feed the nation.

some of the above changes made by Adam Williams 11A (And the rest by scarlett ward...) (influenza was not caused by the world war, so was omitted.)

Why the British citizens continued the war

The British people felt that it was right to go to war against Germany; Germany had violated the independence of a neutral country (Belguim) that had been protected by the joint signatures of France, Britain and Germany and then began the exploitation of materals within those country's for his how war effort. This initial action stirred up a sense of chauvenism within the British population who became positively angled towards continuation of what became a 'Total War' against Germany and her Allies.

The British population at home was stimulated to fight a war against Germany as they had realised that Germany had far-reaching military ambitions which were in part due to it being an autocracy. The treatment of prisoners and refugees from uccupied territories also continued to be emphasised by the government throughout the war. The sinking of the Lusitania was an espcially antagonising event.

There were also in realisation that Germany would likely disregard all their current human rights as was shown by their (the Germans) use of gas in 1915, which was in direct contrast with the rules set out by the Hague Protocol of 1908. Also the highly publiscised murder of Edith Cavell gave British people yet more resolve to continue the war efforts.

Government Legal Implementations during WWI


The first act of the government that directly contributed towards to the rights of people at home was made on August the 8th 1914, it was called the Defence of the Realm Act, which is often shortened to DORA. DORA was extended in both 1915 and 1916 however the initial implementation gave the government a number of special legal rights such as the ability of the cabinet to impose rules via the Admiralty and the Army Council when it was necessary for an event to defend the safety of the United Kingdom and its Populace.

DORA also enabled censorship of distributed articles which allowe the government to edit newspapers, change personal mail from the front and generally cover-up the true consequences and effects of the war on the population. Censorship is one of the most widely used tactics as a method of concealing true events and was employed by many countries during the First World War, all of who were worried about the morale of the workforce at home.

DORA also allowed the internment of hostile forces (basically anyone suspected of being a spy) without trial as a method of protecting the country from hostile infiltration.


In August 1914, one of the initial acts of the government was to seize control of the railways to allow for troop movements. However the government did not take full control, they allowed the railway managers to continue running the railways however dictated routes for their troops, in return for which the railways managers wages were garunteed to an extent.

In 5th August 1914 fresh recruiting attempts begun when the army was allowed a further 500,000 troops. This number was attained through the use of propoganda such as the infamous Kitchener posters. Actual conscription during this period was so large that it left many industries redundant as their workers had gone, in these key industries it often took months to bring back the men from the front to the factories.

The Munitions of War Act

The Munitions of War Act was implemented from May 1915 and was a joint collaberation between the government and the TUC (which will be discussed later).

The Munitions of War Act applied to all companies that were a contributing factor in the British war effort, such as those producing army clothing and munitions. The main effects of this act were that -

· Strikes and lock-outs prohibited to try to minimise the time lost due to workers taking union suggested strikes.

· All workplace issues were to be solved by compulsary arbitration.

· Wages within the workplace were protected by the government as insurance against the government by the TUC, also wage increases would need to be government improved.

· Trade unions had to abandon restrictive practices and allow unskilled and semi skilled men and women to take the place of skilled men who had gone to the front. This method was known as dilution, where a more skilled workforce was made less skilled as more unskilled workers entered it (escpecially a issue when it came to munitions production where often bombs would be poorly constructed and thus wouldn't explode, so mass production of duds).

· Profits in contributing industries were to be controlled by the government in an attempt to minimise was profiteering.

· The government was allowed to direct workers to certain industries in certain areas of the country in order to maximise production activity.

· People commiting offences under this act were to be tried in special munitions tribunals.

Military Issues

Both the introduction of conscription and voluntary service into the armed forces posed considerable challenges for people and industry in Britain, the initial wave of fevoured patriotic joining by the masses meant that huge numbers of vital workers were leaving their professions, the government had to bring these workers back to their jobs to allow the smooth production of vital goods. Upon the introduction of conscription (all men 18-41 excepting married men) many of these men would be conscripted, so the government had to introduce 'reserved occupations' wherby people in those occupations were exempt from conscription. Conciencious Objectors were also exempt from military service. Also in May 1916 conscription was increased to include all married men ages 18-41, this was an extension to the conscription introduced in January 1916.

Despite the governments attempts to improve the health of the population after the Boer War in areas there was still up to a 70% level of rejection by the army as the people were unfit for service. It showed an underlying issue with the people of Britain. Others were excluded due to being in 'reserved occupations'.

Also the dilution of the workforce proved to be a key factor in military problems, the quality of shells was extremyl low with huge numbers of duds being produced. This was a huge issue even during the munitions crisis of 1914/1915 when Britain had to make shells to level the deficits between itself and Germany.

Trade Unions

The trade unions wielded huge power during the war, and also increased their influence hugely, their spokebody was generally the TUC (Trade union Congress) and it often collaberted with the government on key ligislation that would affect the lives of individuals. The government was thus able to largely succeed in banning strikes and restrictive practices whilst getting companies to accept conscription and dilution through the use of the TUC and Trade Unions and affiliates. The governmental reliance on the TUC meant that it became a integral part of British life, and the Trade Unions remains o today.

However in areas distrust built up between the Trade Unions and the working classes who felt that the TUC was leaning to much towards the upper class political party's intrests rather than supporting their own, this meant hat the Trade Unions lost much support from the sector. In areas, such as 'red' clydeside there were violent protests by the working classes due to the loss of the right to strike as they felt the TUC had supported the Munitions Act to easily and had thus given up many of their rights. Due to these mistrusts in some areas 'Shop Stewards' (who were fellow workers who represente their colleagues) were set up in direct conflict with the official representative. They were also important in the strikes in the engineering industry that occurred in 1917.

The actual membership of Trade Unions grew from 4 million in 1914 to 6 million by the end of the war, the Trade Unions did help to gain better stability and pay however the fear that it was becoming biased towards government desires built up resentment amongst many of the working class.

· 1913, Days lost to strikes - 9,804,000 over 1459 strikes and 664,000 strikers.

· 1918, Days lost to strikes - 5,875,000 over 1165 strikes and 1,116,000 strikers.

· 1919, Days lost to strikes - 34,969,000 over 1352 strikes and 2,591,000 strikers.

Intrestingly the number of strikers increased during the war; however the number of days lost due to strieks decreased. After the war the effect that the post was slump caused meant that there was a huge increase in striking people. The main reasons for striking during the war were; the cost of living, war profiteering, conscripton, dilution (explained elsewhere) of the workforce and administive incompetance.

Food and Drink

There was a lack of certain food substances during the First World War however these lackings were NOT major issues to the survival of people, there was no time during WWI when people didn't have enough food available to survive. That was not a circumstance that occurred. The government had pre-empted shortages to many supplies such as those to Wheat and Sugar of which the government made bulk purchases early on as to form stockpiles that could last the country. Also shortages of items such as Indian Jute and Russian Flax (used for tents) were pre-empted with huge quanities being brought due to the fear of a loss of trade routes with both countries. These fears were mainly due to the use of U-Boats by Germany.

There was inflation during the First World War, however this was expected during a period of political and military uncertainty. Between July 1914 and June 1916 overall there was 59% inflation. By the Spring of 1917 bread cost twice as much as it had in 1914. The government intervened here, as bread was part of the staple diet for many British people. In the Spring of 1917 they lowered the price of 4lb of Bread to 9d (from 1 shilling), from November a similar subsidy was placed upon potatoes.

There was one main event which seriously threatened the food supplies to Great Britain; this was the sustained and largescale submarine warfare that was imposed upon Britain in the late Autumn of 1916 onwards. This method of intercepting all supplies to Britain (using unrestricted submraine warfare, which many saw as a crime against humanity as it meant that no ship, no matter what its cargo was, was safe) caused wholesale disruption to British food supplies from abroard, which almost cripplng consequences. Britain was left, at one period, with 4 days of sugar supplie remaining and 9 weeks of Wheat supplies left.

Rationing was introduced at a local level in some areas in 1916 and was increased further in 1917 in many countries after the idea was put forwards by Lord Rhondda (Lord Devonport's replacement in the job of food controller with responsibility for distribution, after Devonport failed to make any substancial difference to anything).

Sir George Prothero was appointed as the President of the Board of Agriculture in 1916, his main duty was to increase domestic food production. He did this job successfully as he helped convert an extra 3 million acres of land for agrilcultural usage. This equated into a yearly output of 1 million tons of wheat and 1.3 million tonnes of potatoes being produced.

The government implemented a major crackdown on the consumption of alcohol and its effects. (Lloyd George, War Memoir ½ P173, 'To ensure a more rigid control of drinking facilities in the munition areas.') It was begun due to issues with sailors and the navy, many of whom turned up drunk or alcohol assisted to their duties. The government chose to restrict the oppurtunity to drink in coastal towns, and further to this began expanding scheme countrywide. Between 1914 and 1918 convictions for drunkennes dropped hugely from 4872 in Britain in 1914 to only 804 in 1918.

Due to the efforts of the ministers, Britian became 80% self-sufficent by 1918 in terms of food production.


The war was extremely expensive and it led to huge increases in taxes in order to pay for some of the war debts. Before the war the national debt was £625million approx. of debt, by the end of the war this had increased to £7,980million and it accounted for around 70% of expenditure during the war. A vast amount of the remainder was accounted for through taxation. Lloyd George during 1914-1915 increased income tax from 9d per pound to 1s 6d per pound. McKenna during 1915-1916 raised this further to 3s 6d in the pound. Finally Bonar Law from 1916-1918 increased this to 6s in the pound.

The increases in taxation were substancial as they marked a over six-fold increase in taxes which the populace had to burden.

Womens Impact

Women in the first world war played an important role in the replacing of male workers and were key 'diluters' of many workforces (although this is by no means a negative comment) women helped to provide the labour that the government so desperately needed.

The Suffrage movements of the NUWSS and WSPU combined into the NUWSS movement (the Suffragette movement had itself become an autocratic group with huge differences in opinions and ill-feeling between members, the Pankhursts gave up their campaign on the outbreak of war, which had fully disintergrated by 1916) The NUWSS began dedicating itself fully towards the war effort. However the effect of women can easily be over-exagerated. In 1914 there were 5.96million wome in paid employment; however by 1918 this was only up to 7.31million which does not indicate a dramatic increase when the number of soldiers is considered (by 1918 this was around 3,500,000). It is perhaps more accurate to consider that children played more of an impacting role, with the number of child workers who were under 14 increasing four-fold during the war.

However a definate outcome of the war was that women were being given more responsible jobs, the number in educated and advanced employment began to catch up on the number in domestic jobs (which had been womens main jobs for many years). It showed that women were capable of fulfilling these duties.

However after the war the level of female employment fell to almost exactly that of pre war levels, the women were unable to hold onto the jobs after the war, either due to the returning male labourors or the following economical slump. Although many that were kept were in higher ability jobs which gave a basis for other women.

Human Loss

The loss of human life was tremendous, there was a 'lost generation' of those aged 18-25 who had died in the war and with their deaths had left behind a wake of fatherless children and widows that would leave economical and mental scars on British society for years. This effect was felt across all countries involved in the war. Notable losses included Asquiths son and two of Bonar Laws, it showed that the war did not just affect the working classes (as many had complained).

Also there was a huge number of disabled people within the population as a direct result of the First World War and injuries sustained, these had to be cared for by the government which set up numberous specialised institutions for their care.


In February 1918 (agreeably it was before the end of the war, however its causes were due to actions of the war and thus it was an aftermath of these) the government passed the Representation of the People Act which allowed women over 30 the vote. It meant that the post war election would be the first to involve women voters, although full franchise for women wasn't obtained until 1928. Intrestingly, although women's actions during the war were a major influence on them getitng the vote, it wasn't the young main factory workers who received the vote, but the older women who had perhaps acted more inconspicuously.

Further to this act in 1919 The Sex Disqualification Act opened up the legal profession to women, and also allowed a limited amount of access high level civil service jobs. Soon after the register of nurses recognised nursing as a profession. Through the 1918, 1920 and 1921 National Insurance Ats women were made eligible for national insurance benefits.

The liberal party and its ambitions had been ended by the Lloyd George vs. Asquith debate, especially the vote of no confidence initiated by Asquith which he was defeated on. It finally showed the divide between the Asquith and Lloyd George supporters and within the liberal party itself. Lloys George became the last Liberal to serve as a Government leader (although not leader of a singular party government). The labour party grew very substancially during this period and became a leading force.

The government had interferred in the affairs of private businesses and individuals and thus in the future it was more likely that they would do the same or atleast be more intrested in economical welfare within the country. During the war they had possesses a huge amount of control, this left an impression on the government as to the effect they could have.

Social and Economic Changes from World War One

  • Near-complete destruction of the old order in Europe.  The old idea of Kings ruling according to Christian principles ended with WWI.  Kings had lost credibility to a surge of republicanism.  The Paris Peace Conference, especially the Treaty of Versailles hardly fit the idea of a Christian peace.  The peace seemed to fit the Marxist idea that the war was fought to enrich the ruling classes.

  • Disillusionment with the war was rife in most of the nations by the late 1920s. After initial euphoria over the greatness of the victory, even the victorious nations began to focus on the waste of life, the absurdity of the war and fact that the people of the nations actually had much in common.  A good example here is Eric Maria Remarque's, All Quiet on the Western Front.

  • Pacifism became rife in Britain as evidenced by the Oxford Pledge where Britain's top students refused to fight for their country.  In the US the "Lost Generation" simply decided they hated the people in their own country and looked to France for inspiration.

  • Using so many women in factories accelerated a decline in the birthrate in much of Europe many women opted to have more money, rather than more children.

  • Communist parties thrived in Western Europe as many felt that Communism was the only real solution to the massive problems faced by the world.

  • Nationalism received a huge boost during the war as many discovered that regardless of class and income, they were all equal on the battlefield. This helped propel movements to encourage national unity. Such a movement led by Mustafa Kemal saved Turkey from dismemberment as he successfully united Turkey in the face of Entente enmity.

  • Fascism and National Socialism developed from WWI. The fact that workers did NOT find common cause, but rather rallied to their own flag and countrymen indicated that Marx's ideas were false.  However, socialism had, if anything, been vindicated by the war as whole societies had pulled together for the common good.  This new socialism would be based on the nation, not some mythical international brotherhood of workers.

  • Most nations, especially after the Depression began, experimented with various forms of socialism.  The huge government coordination of the economies during WWI had shown that socialism worked.  When the crisis of the Depression hit, nations returned to the ideas which had worked in WWI.  In the US the New Deal; in Germany National Socialism, in Italy Fascism, in Britain Fabian Socialism, and in France the Popular Front.

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