First World War 'Home Front' study in Formby
We started on August 4th when a few of us made a useful start on this project when we watched a newly produced video produced by North West Film Archive on ‘Life on the Home Front in North-West England’. A copy of this has been purchased by the society and is available to members to view at home. This included relevant news-film taken at the time, including a cutting from our own archives showing a practice launch of the Formby lifeboat in 1916, assisted by a mounted artillery regiment then stationed at Altcar Rifle Range. It also included film of early flying at Freshfield just prior to the outbreak of war. Much of the rest of the film showed the effect of the war on domestic life in the north-west at that time, which of course we are also interested in.
This study is now complete. A report is being prepared and a talk will be given on 13th November 2015 by John Philips - please see here for meetings
Apart from anything else it is interesting simply to go back to the Formby of that period. We do know that Formby was involved in the war in many ways. It will be interesting to find out exactly how and to what extent!
This is a Formby Civic Society project which will continue at least until the end of this year.
Any friends interested in volunteering for this project will also be welcome but I would be grateful if they could contact me first either by e-mail, email@example.com or telephone 01704 872187.
The First World War Home Front summary
The First World War was the first 'total war' - the whole nation had to be mobilised to fight. Men joined the army while women took over their jobs, but was this change lasting or a temporary effect of total war?
The population at home - the basics
People in Britain were affected in six main ways:
- Recruitment - there was a huge poster campaign to get people to join up, and the government had to introduce conscription in 1916. Conscientious objectors could be imprisoned. Women were recruited into the armed forces as nurses, drivers, cooks and telephonists.
- The Defence of the Realm Act (DORA) - this was passed in August 1914. DORA allowed the government to take over the coal mines, railways and shipping. Lloyd George became Minister of Munitions and set up state-run munitions factories. The government worked with the trade unions to prevent strikes.
- Reduced workforce - there were fewer workers because so many men left to join the army.
- Rationing - a fixed allowance for sugar, meat, butter, jam and tea was introduced in 1918. British Summer Time was also introduced to give more daylight working hours.
- Propaganda - newspaper and soldiers' letters were censored. "The Tribunal" (a pacifist newspaper) was shut down, and lies were made up about German atrocities. Posters encouraged morale. The film "The Somme" was a semi-successful attempt at using film for propaganda because the graphic nature of actually seeing the men die upset many viewers.
- Civilian casualties - 57 zeppelin bombing raids after 1915, and the German navy shelled Hartlepool, Whitby and Scarborough.
Read on to learn more about propaganda and the role women played in the war effort.
Propaganda - what did it do?
Propaganda was not just about finding recruits; it was designed to make people believe in certain ideas and viewpoints and to think in certain ways. The posters were used by the government to encourage men to join the army.
How did women help the war effort?
- Recruitment - women were recruited as nurses into the Voluntary Aid Detachments (VADs) or First Aid Nursing Yeomanry (FANY), and as drivers, cooks and telephonists into the WAAC, WRNS and WRAF.
- DORA - many women 'munitionettes' worked in the government's munitions factories.
- Reduced workforce - women took on traditional men's jobs and became firemen, coalmen and bus conductors.
- Rationing - the main burden of coping fell on mothers. The Women's Land Army helped with agricultural production.
- After the war, men took back their jobs and most women returned to the family. However, the War did bring about political and social changes:
- Political - women over 30 years old got the vote in 1918. Women over 21 years old got the vote in 1928. Women were also allowed to stand for election as MPs, but there were only eight women MPs in 1923.
- Social - women became more liberated. Short skirts and short hair became fashionable and many women smoked in public.
Further study areas
- How women contributed to the war effort ?
- How civilians were affected by the war ?
- How effective government propaganda was during the war ?
- To what extent people's lives were affected by the war ?
- To what extent women's lives were changed by the war ?