Kitchener poster

The 'Home Front' in the First World War

By dbutler
  • Declaration of war

    War declared on Germany. Britain needed an army quickly. The government launched a massive recruitment campaign. Half a million joined the army in one month.
  • Period: to

    The 'Home Front' during the First World War

  • DORA

    The Defence of the Realm Act (DORA) was introduced. It gave the government special powers such as the right to take over industries and land which were needed for the war effort, or to censor newspapers.
  • Women begin to get involved

    Autumn - From August to September many different women's organizations were set up, including the Women's Hospital Corps and the Women's Police Volunteers.
  • Mainland Britain bombed - Scarborough

    Mainland Britain bombed - Scarborough
    The first bombing of British civilians. German warships shelled the east coast of Britain. In Scarborough 119 people were killed.
  • And then the Zeppelin came along too

    And then the Zeppelin came along too
    First air raids by German Zeppelin airships, dropping bombs on East Anglian towns.
  • The coalition begins

    It was recognized that the war needed much more careful organziation of all aspects of British life, so a coalition government with politicians from all parties was formed to handle the growing crisis in Britain.
  • The Zeppelin hits London

    The Zeppelin hits London
    The first Zeppelin air raids on London. Air raids by Zeppelins and later aircraft were a regular feature of the rest of the war.
  • The shell crisis - throughout July

    The shell crisis - throughout July
    The munitions crisis (or shell crisis whichever you prefer): British troops were facing a severe shortage of shells and bullets. The government set up the Ministry of Munitions under David Lloyd George to reorganise Britain's munitions supply. Lloyd George and Mrs Pankhurst, a suffragette leader, organised a 'women's march for jobs' to recruit women to work in factories.
  • Autumn - problems with women in the factories

    Autumn - problems with women in the factories
    Many employers refused to take on women, and trade unions refused to allow women workers. The government had to come to an agreement with the trade unions that women would be paid the same as men and would only work 'until sufficient male labour should again be available'. The government also set up its own munitions factories, employing largely women.
  • Conscription - part 1

    Conscription - part 1
    First Military Service Bill introduced conscription of all single men aged 18 - 40.
  • Conscription - part 2

    Conscription - part 2
    Second Military Service Bill extended conscription to married men.
  • The Battle of the Somme

    The Battle of the Somme
    It carried on till November. More soldiers were killed in this battle than any previous battle.
  • The Battle of the Somme - THE FILM

    The Battle of the Somme - THE FILM
    The British public flocked to cinemas to see the government's new feature film 'The Battle of the Somme', which the 'Evening News' called the 'greatest moving picture in the world'.
  • The Battle of the Somme - the end

    The Battle of the Somme - the end
    The battle was called off - with very little gain to show for the half a million British casualties.
  • November in general - the British public openly criticize the way the generals are running the war

    This is really the first time it is on such a scale and so public.
  • Lloyd George becomes PM

    Lloyd George becomes PM
    Lloyd George, a critic of the army leadership, became Prime Minister in place of Herbert Asquith. He immediately reorganised the British government to focus all efforts on the war. He set up the Ministry of Labour to deal with the labour supply in British industry. He set up the Ministry of Food to deal with the food supply.
  • Germany began its third and most devastating campaign of unrestricted submarine warfare

    Germany sank British merchant ships in a bid to starve Britain out of the war.
  • Women's Land Army formed

    Women's Land Army formed
    This was sometime in February. Its aim was to recruit women as farm labourers.
  • U boat campaign almost on top

    U boat campaign almost on top
    German U boats sank one in four British merchant ships in the Atlantic. The food supply was running very low. Under DORA the government took over 2.5 million acres of new farming land to feed Britain.
  • Voluntary rationing scheme introduced

    Voluntary rationing scheme introduced
    It was a complete failure. Food prices continued to rise. Food queues got longer.
  • Women will have the vote

    Parliament agreed a law to give all women over 30 who were householders the right to vote in general elections. It would become a law in February 1918.
  • Compulsory rationing

    Compulsory rationing scheme introduced in London and southern Britain with stiff penalties for offenders.
  • Extension of rationing

    Rationing of meat, butter and cheese extended to the entire country.
  • Armistice Day

    Armistice Day
    On the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month of 1918 the Armistice was signed. The war was officially over.
  • General Election

    A general election was held in Britain. Women over 30 voted for the first time.