History- Home Front WW1


Detailed notes for the second GCSE History exam, one of the three topics: The Homefront.
Note by jessmitchell, updated more than 1 year ago
Created by jessmitchell almost 10 years ago

Resource summary

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RationingEmergency powersAir RaidsRecruitment

WomenIndustryNo strike deal unionsDORA




memory technique

Women's contribution to the war effort

Where?Women were employed as clerks and administration workers in offices. The government employed over 200,000 female clerks. They also worked in engineering and munitions factories. They worked in transport and even the food and drink industry.

Who employed them?The government employed women and so did other employers such as businesses and engineering although they were reluctant to as  they didn't believe they were 'up to the job'. Women also became nurses and medics near the front line. The Salvation Army also employed them.

ProblemsMany employers were opposed to letting women work in their fields because they believed they wouldn't be able to learn necessary skills and they feared trouble from unions.Most unions did not accept female workers anyway.There were long, long shifts, particularly in munitions work.Also there were accidents and medical problems from using TNT explosives, such as breathing difficulties etc.

Types of jobwomen worked as:-clerks and office workers-munitions workers-engineers-bus conductors-postal workers-farm labourers-coal deliverers-grave diggers-road layers-welders-steel workers-bus drivers--nurses/medics

Some of the jobs were dangerous, for example the munitions work. Some of the work was very strenuous and tiring. Some of the work was very administration based.

Impacts- women being employed really impacted both their own lives and others lives. Firstly, the women were finally given a chance at freedom and to earn a living for themselves-It impacted the employers, as although most of them sacked women once the men returned, some were so impressed by them that they kept women on-Attitudes towards women improved as men realised they were just as capable as men in their work-Their social lives changed and they got equal pay to men-they got experience for the future

VoteSome women were given the vote in 1918 because women were finally believed to be trusted and wise enough to vote after proving their work in the war was worthwhile towards the war effort

D.O.R.A- Defence of the Realm Act

Rules Set by the government under DORA- talk about naval or military affairs in public places-spread rumours about military affairs-trespass on railways or bridges-light bonfires or fireworks-trespass on allotments-melt down gold or silver-give bread to dogs, horses or chickens-government could try any civilian  breaking these laws-government could take possession of any land or factory it needed-they could censor newspapers and media-it introduced British summer time to give more time for daylight work in the evening-people couldn't fly kites-people couldn't buy binoculars-couldn't use invisible ink when writing abroad-couldn't ring church bells-couldn't buy whisky or brandy in a railway room or similar place-it cut down on pub opening hours-watered down beer-banned 'rounds' of drinks

Why was it introduced?Feeding the realm-food shortages became serious in 1916-as British food is mainly imported, Germans began using submarines to stop supplies-In April 1917 there was only 6 weeks supply of wheat stores left-Coal was rationed-In 1917 voluntary rationing was introduced but failed-King & Queen used the rationing scheme1918, 14million acres of land used for farming-Women's land army began-1918- situation got even worse.-Compulsory rationing introduced 1918, worked very well & poor health improved.

In 1914 the government passed the Defence of Realm Act which came to be known as DORA. It gave the government unprecedented and wide ranging powers to control many aspects of people's lives. It allowed it to seize any land or building it needed and to take control what the public knew about the war through censorship. The government immediately took control of the coal industry so that the mines could be run to support the war effort rather than for the private profit of owners.

More Info on The Homefront

Why did people want to go to war?-A change-To go abroad-To be seen as heroes-Patriotic-Glorified-No knowledge or warfare or consequences-Due to propaganda-Friends going (pals brigade)-An adventure-Women being attracted to them

Munitions Crisis 1915In 1915 the first major problem occurred for the government. As the war became a stalemate, it became increasingly, obvious that the planning for the war was very inadequate. There was a huge shortage of shells, bullets and armaments on the western front. There were not enough rifles to go around. There were reports that soldier on the front line were limited to 3 rounds a day.A national scandal exposed the problem by the Daily Mail.Lloyd George was made minister of Munitions under DORA, where he introduced a range of measures to 'deliver the goods'. A problem was the shortage of skilled workers in the key industries. He tries to force skilled workers to stay where they are, where the government needed them instead of leaving and going somewhere else with better pay.The Trade Unions protested. Many of the bosses of the firms supplying the government were making huge profits and the unions wondered why the workers couldnt do the same. They often caused strikes. During 1916, 235000 workers went on strike; 2.5 million working days were lost. In 1918 over 900000 workers went on strike. In many cases the government just agreed to demands.Lloyd George's idea was to bring women into the workforce. Trade unions resisted against this. In 1915, 100000 women registered for work in the industry, yet only 3,000 got jobs. Trade unions argued that women worked for lower wages so they diluted men's wages. They refused to cooperate until the government clearly promised women had equal pay to men & kept their obs when the men returned. By 1915 conditions improved.

RationingRationing was introduced into Britain at the tail end of World War One - in February 1918. Rationing was introduced in response to an effective U-boat campaign and during World War One, the Defence of the Realm Act (DORA) was used to ensure that food shortages never occurred.Up to 1916, these merchant ships could travel in relative safety. However, in 1917, the Germans introduced unrestricted submarine warfare and merchant ships were sunk with great frequency. This had a drastic impact on Britain's food supply and with great losses in the Atlantic, food had to be rationed so that no-one starved in Britain. In April 1916, Britain only had six weeks of wheat left and bread was a staple part of most diets. 1916 was a bleak year for families - with the news from the Battle of the Somme and with food in short supply, suddenly the war was brought home to most families. Food prices rose and by October 1916, coal was in such short supply that it was rationed by the number of rooms a family had in its house.In January 1918, sugar was rationed and by the end of April meat, butter, cheese and margarine were added to the list of rationed food. Ration cards were issued and everyone had to register with a butcher and grocer. Rationing was a clear indication to the British public that all was not well, but it did work. The malnutrition that had been identified in the poorer communities disappeared and as in World War Two, no one actually starved in Britain during the war.


PropagandaWhen a group of people, in this case the British government publish some information which is biased to their own views. They were trying to make other people believe what they wanted them to believe.

CensorshipCensorship is where the government were limiting and controlling what the public knew about the war so they only found of the things the government wanted them to know and often not the full truth

Keeping up morale-The government controlled any bad news but published widely any victories so the public thought we were doing well-If there was any good news returning home then more people would apply to fight which was good for the war effort


Films & BooksLeading authors signed a declaration to say they will show support of the war in all their pieces. Most of them produced patriotic stories for no fee. This raised the morale of the public because they were only reading victory stories and no bad ones.Films were released but few were actually filmed by the war department. Some scenes were fake, but there were true ones too. A film made of the Battle of The Somme was a huge propaganda success and the public loved it. Their morale was boosted because they were impressed by the 'realism' of the film


Hating the GermansThe British government needed a way to keep the public hating the enemy, the Germans. They produced propaganda aimed to make the Germans look horrific, to turn the British against them. Though many of the public at first didnt have a reason to fight they now did, because of the images they saw everywhere. Images of skeletons 'drinking British blood' were published to cause anger and hatred that the more the British hated the Germans the more chance we had at winning. The government also published reports about deaths that Germany had caused, like in Scarborough, as this made the public very angry.

NewspapersThe British public were only told about the victories of the British army, in an attempt to keep spirits up. The public were never told if any losses, as the government didn't want to alarm them

Flour and breadThe government were so concerned about flour and bread because the food supply in Britain was getting desperate & there was only six weeks supply of wheat left, so they wanted to lower how much people ate to make it last longer






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