History Unit 3A (War and the transformation of British society c.1903-28) Chapters 3 and 4

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  • Created by: S_webb
  • Created on: 19-11-16 20:13

The Defence of the Realm Act:

  • The Defence of the Realm Act (DORA) was passed in August 1914 and gave the British government extradordinary powers during the war. The government was, for the first time, able to censor literature and to direct what stories newspapers published; as well as this, discussion of military matters and comments which could undermine morale were also banned.
  • DORA also gave the government the power to force people to remain in job necessary for the war effort, and as well as this the government took control of coordinating the supply of materials such as munitions, metal, coal and rubber by setting up its own munitions factories and taking over coal mines.
  • DORA also gave the government the power to introduce rationing and to restrict the opening times of pubs to 12:00-2:30pm and 6:30-9:30pm. Watered-down beer was also introduced to prevent drunkenness, and BST was introduced to give more daylight hours in which to work. Other restrictions were also introduced: people could not buy binoculars, melt down gold or silver, light bonfires or fireworks, give bread to horses or chickens, ring church bells, buy a round of drinks and keep homing pigeons without a permit. The government also issued increasing amounts of propaganda.

Recruitment:

  • Initially, many people were excited by the propsepct of fighting, and signed up quickly to join the "fun". Lord Kitchener was put in charge of raising 100,000 volunteers and by the end of September 1914 over 175,000 had signed up. Many "Pals battalions" were set up, consisting of men from the same town or trade; however, this soon meant that in some towns there was scarcely a single street not affected by the war. Up to 584 of the 720 Accrington Pals who were at the Somme, for example, were killed, wounded or missing
  • As the reality of war sank in recruitment waned and in 1915 the Derby Scheme, whereby men promised to fight when asked, was introduced, as well as a National Register of 15 to 65-year-olds. 
  • However, less than half of the men in Britain signed on to this scheme, and the government was forced to take drastic action. In January 1916, the first Military Service Act was introduced, stating that all single men from 18-41 could be called up; in May, a second Act extended this to married men of the same age.

Conscientious objectors:

  • Conscientious objectors were those men who refused to fight in the war due to political or religious beliefs, During the war they formed groups like the British Neutrality League and the Non-Conscription Fellowship.
  • These men were often ridiculed by the public as "slackers" or "cowards" and were subject to such humiliations as being presented with white feathers in public. They were also forced to go before tribunals, which could grand unconditional exception, assign men to non-combatant roles (such as driving amulances) or simply deny their applications. Those absolutists (about 1500 in number) who refused to have anything to do with the war were sent…

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