By Daniel Leeder.
Although the Home Front was not as important as the land war in Europe and the war at sea, it was still relatively important to the final outcome of the war. Some of the most important points include, the fact that the British public was affected or involved in a major war for the first time, bombs dropped on London by Zeppelins and the Defence of the Realm Act (DORA). Further points include the munitions crisis, how the government neglected to give industry and business any clear direction and the employment of women for the production of war arms.
World War 1 was the first ever war to affect and include the British public in it. It was called Britain’s first ‘Total War’ or ‘Great War’. Previous wars had never involved or affected the British public. Battles were usually fought far away by professional armies, not by the everyday average man like they did in this war. London and other major cities were bombed and many were killed in air raids by German Zeppelins. It was the first time that British civilians were killed by the enemy’s actions. Everyone in Britain was affected in the war in some way or another. Over 1500 innocent British civilians were killed during the war. Therefore public opinion and suffering greatly influenced the attitude of the government which then influenced the outcome of the war. People in Britain were encouraged to grow their own crops as after the ‘U’ boats sank most of the British shipping London was left with just a few days food supply.
The Defence of the Realm Act (DORA) was also a reason that the Home Front was important to the outcome of the war. DORA was an Act of Parliament that set up many directions to help the British public and businesses so that the war could be supported and fought successfully. Some of the things that were not acceptable to do in DORA by the public were things such as no kite flying, no lighting bonfires and no ringing church bells. These you were not allowed to do as all three of them could be taken as signs that the enemy was approaching. The Government could put you on trial for breaking any of the laws of DORA and had the right to take over any industry and factory workshops and to censor all newspapers. Once the government was allowed to do this they immediately took over the coal industry as it could then be controlled to help the war effort instead of mine owners getting their private profit. This basically meant that the government could control many aspects of people’s lives. DORA was important to the final outcome of the war because without these laws the German intelligence may have been more effective finding out information about the enemy and good places to attack.
In 1915 there was a munitions crisis. This was because the government took a Lassez-faire attitude towards the factories producing munitions. There were not enough rifles for every member of the army to have one so because of this new recruits had to train with wooden sticks. Reports said that soldiers had to be rationed to three rounds of ammunition a day. This became a national scandal in the main British paper the Daily Mail. As a result of this the government went into a coalition so they could all work together in trying to bring the war to an end. Lloyd George and the government tried to get the more skilled workers to stay where the government needed them most rather than where they would get the best pay which obviously is what they wanted to do.
To help with the war effort, the government decided that it would be acceptable to allow women to work in factories. This extra labour on the home front meant that the production of munitions increased so that the men fighting on the frontline had enough weapons and ammunition. This important change in the attitudes towards women working contributed to the outcome of the war but even so, the home front was not as important as the war on the