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Recruits at Whitehall Recruiting Office, London SW1 in 1914. The appointment of Lord Kitchener as Secretary of State for War in August 1914 was followed.

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Presentation on theme: "Recruits at Whitehall Recruiting Office, London SW1 in 1914. The appointment of Lord Kitchener as Secretary of State for War in August 1914 was followed."— Presentation transcript:

1 Recruits at Whitehall Recruiting Office, London SW1 in 1914. The appointment of Lord Kitchener as Secretary of State for War in August 1914 was followed by an intensive recruitment campaign. Kitchener asked for half a million men and with recruits enlisting at a rate of 100,000 per week, by the end of the first two months of the war over 750,000 had joined up. This enthusiastic response was not something that could be maintained, however, and voluntary enlistment gave way to conscription in 1916.

2 Recruits taking the oath. This is one of a series of photographs commissioned by the Ministry of Information in 1917 to record the various procedures of enlistment, which included medical checks and being measured for uniform. After signing up and taking the oath of loyalty to the King, a recruit received the King's Shilling and was sent for training.

3 Belgian refugees arriving at Victoria Station, London SW1 in September 1914. The German invasion of neutral Belgium on 4th August had resulted in many Belgian civilians fleeing from the advancing German armies. About a million of them left Belgium, an estimated 100,000 coming to Britain as refugees. A refugees committee was formed on 24 August and the British public responded to their plight with feelings of outrage and sympathy. Numerous British families offered accommodation to the unfortunate Belgians.

4 Hostile crowd attacking a shop in London owned by a German. The Press whipped up anti-German feelings, mainly through the printing of vastly exaggerated or even totally fictitious atrocity stories, telling of the rape and mutilation of Belgian woman and children. Such were the feelings of horror and outrage on the part of the British public that people with German names or owners of shops or restaurants with German names found themselves or their property under attack, quite irrespective of the character or sympathies of the people concerned.

5 The organising secretary of the Committee of Soldiers' Comforts stands by the van that has been presented to the organisation. After the outbreak of war many well-to-do ladies put their efforts into charity work, which often took the form of fund-raising for the Red Cross or the St. John Ambulance. There was also much concern for the comfort and well-being of the soldiers in France and Belgium and this particular charity devoted itself to collecting and delivering a range of items - clothing, food, special equipment - to make life pleasanter for the "boys at the front".

6 Wounded from the Somme arriving at Charing Cross Station, London in July 1916. The impact of the horrific casualty figures resulting from the major offensive on the Somme in July 1916 was enormous. The British public, up till then somewhat impervious to the horrors of life in the trenches, suddenly woke up to the scale of the carnage and the daily occurrence of hospital trains arriving from France and ambulances conveying the wounded to hospitals attracted large crowds of onlookers.

7 4th London General Hospital, Denmark Hill. A ward hut supervised by nursing staff of the Queen Alexandra's Imperial Military Nursing Service. The need for a huge number of hospital beds necessitated the requisition of many buildings as emergency hospitals. Military hospitals like the 4th London General were staffed partly by the professionally trained QAIMNS and partly by VAD (Voluntary Aid Detachment) volunteers, young semi-trained amateurs with no more than a brief First Aid course behind them. Many VADs, however, soon became proficient and invaluable nurses and the care of the wounded back in Britain and abroad depended heavily on them.

8 Ruins of a house in Scarborough after the bombardment by German naval vessels in December 1914. A family of five were killed in this particular house and altogether 127 people were killed in various coastal towns in the north-east of England during these bombardments. The vulnerability of Britain both to sea and shortly afterwards air attack came as a great shock to the British public.

9 L12 German Zeppelin or airship flying over Britain in August 1915. The first Zeppelins came over the North Sea from Germany in January 1915. Aerial bombardment was a new and terrifying experience for the British people and it was London and the east of England that suffered most. Defences against the Zeppelins were virtually non-existent though basic air raid precaution measures began to be introduced with policemen on bicycles blowing whistles to signal an imminent air raid. Over 500 people died as a result of Zeppelin raids.

10 Gondola and wreckage of Zeppelin L32, brought down at Great Burstead near Billericay, Essex, 23 September 1916. The Zeppelin threat took the British a while to conquer even though their great size and lack of speed (60 mph) made them seemingly an easy target. Leefe Robinson was the first person to shoot one down, which he did from his aircraft on 3 September 1916, the Zeppelin falling at Cuffley. This was followed by the destruction of many more Zeppelins, facilitated by the invention of an incendiary bullet which quickly set the hydrogen-filled airship ablaze, killing all the crew.

11 Air raid damage in Cox's Court, London ECI. A new threat in the form of Gotha bombers began to attack Britain, particularly London and East Anglia, from May 1917. They caused considerable damage and killed approximately 800 civilians, the worst raids being on the night of 13 June 1917 when 162 people were killed and 4/5 September of that year when 132 were killed.

12 Crane girls at work in a Nottingham shell-filling factory. By May 1915 the chronic shortage of shells at the front had sparked off a furious debate in the House of Commons, which resulted in the setting up of a Ministry of Munitions, headed by Lloyd George. Some munitions factories were brought directly under government control, all were subjected to government interference and trade union activity was suspended. In order to increase production to the extent required, a new source of labour was sought and for the first time women were recruited into munitions factories. By the end of the war 90% of munition workers were women.

13 Interior of a Howitzer Shop. Many of the jobs undertaken by women in munitions were dangerous and many required considerable skill. Afraid that bringing in unskilled female labour (known as 'dilution') would reduce the status of the male munition workers, the trade unions on the whole strongly opposed the arrival of women. Many men were kept on in supervisory roles and after the introduction of conscription in 1916, men working in munitions were exempted from military service.

14 Damage caused by fire after the explosion at the Venestra Works, Silvertown, East London, 19 January 1917. The terrible explosion in the munitions works caused damage to houses, shops and a church over a huge radius. 69 people were killed, perhaps as many as a thousand injured and hundreds more rendered homeless. The noise of the explosion was heard as far away as Salisbury in Wiltshire.

15 Nurses attending a light casualty in a hospital in a shell-filling factory, Nottingham. The dangers of working in munitions factories could be considerable: TNT poisoning caused not only faintness and bilious attacks but the death of 104 women; explosions of one sort or another (the threat of air attacks being the greatest danger) claiming the lives of 237 women. Wages, however, were considerably higher than in other jobs, women earning the handsome sum of 4 pounds per week, high indeed compared with 5 shillings a week in domestic service. The recruitment of large numbers of women in munitions (as many as 900,000 by the end of the war) brought with it improved welfare services: canteens, washing facilities, rest rooms, medical checks and even hospital care.

16 Glasgow tram conductress. Glasgow led the way in the employment of women on its trams. The Glasgow Tramways Department took on its first conductress in April 1915. By the end of the year half of Manchester's tram conductors were women. London was slower to employ women: the London General Omnibus Company took on its first conductresses in February 1916. Overall, transport showed the biggest proportionate increase in women's employment, rising from about 18,000 in 1914 to 117,000 in 1918.

17 Woman window cleaner employed by the Mayfair Window Cleaning Company. This is another example of areas of work that women were moving into, including many that had been considered too dangerous for women. This is one of Horace Nicholls' large series of photographs of aspects of life on the home front undertaken during 1916 and 1917.

18 Women of the Forestry Corps felling a tree. The Forestry Corps was set up in 1917 under the control of the Board of Trade. Women dressed in practical breeches and boots learned the skills of tree-felling and so supplied the shipbuilding, aircraft and railway industries with much-needed timber. This is also one of Horace Nicholls' collection.

19 Members of the Women's Land Army feeding pigs and calves. The Women's Land Army was set up in 1917 in order to recruit more people to work in agriculture to replace the large number of farm labourers who had enlisted. The success of the German submarine campaign in 1917 had created a severe shortage of food and the enlistment of the WLA was one way of counteracting this. The weekly wage was only 18 shillings, rising to 1 pound after an efficiency test had been passed, and the hours were long. The fact that an estimated 75% of the women remained in farm work after the WLA was disbanded in 1919 proves that the outdoor life was a great attraction for many.

20 Girl Guides digging on allotments. Children as well as adults were expected to play their part in the war effort and Brownies and Guides learned First Aid, rolled bandages and helped to grow vegetables. The allotment scheme started in 1916 to supplement the nation's food supplies and gathered momentum during the U-Boat campaign.

21 Boy Scouts assisting the wounded. Scouts learned a variety of skills to help the war effort ranging from helping the medical services to acting as despatch riders.

22 People queuing for food. Even before the 1917 U-Boat campaign there had been food shortages, artificially created by food hoarding at the beginning of the war. Prices rose dramatically: by 75% in the first two years of the war. Attempts to control consumption by voluntary rationing schemes proved ineffective and in the last year of the war the government decided to introduce a proper rationing scheme which limited purchases of meat, fats, bacon and sugar. The food queues almost disappeared as a result.

23 Interior of a conscientious objector's cell. With the passing of the Military Service Bill in January 1916, men between 18 and 40 became liable for conscription. The bill allowed for exemptions on grounds of health and also for those in reserved (i.e. vital) occupations. There was also a clause exempting approved conscientious objectors and special tribunals were set up to examine individual cases. On the whole the tribunals proved to be heavily biased against the objectors and it is estimated that 6,000 out of a total of about 12,000 conscientious objectors were sent to prison. Some of these accepted the Home Office scheme and undertook alternative service but the 'absolutists' refused any involvement in the war effort and were kept in prison throughout the war.

24 Crowd outside Buckingham Palace celebrating Armistice Day, 11 November 1918. The news that the Germans had agreed to a cessation of fighting at the 11th hour was greeted with wild frenzy by much of the British public. The Armistice was celebrated with bonfires, singing, dancing and flag waving. But for the close relatives and friends of the three quarters of a million dead British soldiers, there was little to celebrate.


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