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War and the transformation of British society c1903–28

Key Topic 1: The Liberals, votes for women and social reform

The activities of the women’s societies and the reaction of the authorities. Overview

Children’s welfare measures, old age pensions. Overview

Labour Exchanges 1909, the National Insurance Act 1911. Overview

The political position of women in 1903




Reactions of the authorities to militancy and protest

Forced feeding

The ‘Cat and Mouse Act’

Children’s Charter (1906)

The School Meals Act (1906)

Medical Inspection, 1907.

The reasons for and importance of Old Age Pensions Act (1908).

Labour Exchanges (1909)

National Insurance Act 1911.

Key Topic 2: The part played by the British on the Western Front

The BEF and 1914. Overview

Britain’s contribution to the Western Front 1915–17. Overview

The end of the war. Overview

The despatch of the BEF

The part played in the events of 1914

The failure of the Schlieffen Plan

The race for the sea

Setting up of the trench system.

The nature of trench warfare

Haig and the Battle of the Somme

The development and importance of new weapons



The creeping barrage.

Britain’s part in the events of 1918

Ludendorff’s offensives

The drive to victory.

Key Topic 3: The home front and social change

DORA, censorship and propaganda. Overview

Recruitment and rationing. Overview

The part played by women. Overview

The importance of censorship

Examples of propaganda

The various methods of recruitment: 1914–16

The reasons for, and impact of, conscription: 1916–18

Conscientious objectors.


The effects of submarine warfare on Britain

Measures brought in by the Government to alleviate the threat of U-Boats.

Key Topic 4: Economic and social change 1918–28

The changing role of women 1918–28. Overview

Industrial unrest 1918–27. Overview

The General Strike of 1926. Overview

Extension of the franchise

The changes in women’s work and social changes.

Trade union membership

Industrial militancy in the years 1918–20

The long-term and immediate problems of the coal industry

Black Friday (1921)

Red Friday (1925)

The Samuel Commission (March 1926).

Government preparations and measures to deal with the General Strike

The reasons why the TUC called off the General strike

Trades Disputes Act of 1927.

The role of Britain in 1918

By 1918 the British Army had, like all of the warring nations, suffered many casualties. Much of the army was now made up of conscripted men, rather than the professional soliders who had formed the BEF in 1914. The Western Front had also changed. There were now American forces on the front in increasing numbers and the contribution of forces from the empire had grown in number. This, however, does not mean that the British had a limited role in the war in 1918. On average the british held 87 miles of front line trenches on the Western Front in 1918 and troops levels were proportionally higher in 1918 than they had been at any time in the war (23% the size of the French army on the Western Front, see this page for statitstics for other years).

Key roles on the Western Front:

British forces were heavily involved in defending the front when the Spring Offensives were launched.

The Ypres Salient continued to see lots of fighting.

Britian acted as a staging post for troops coming from America and the empire.

British troops continued to relieve pressure on the French army.


It must also be remembered that the war was not just fought on the Western Front. In 1918 British forces were successful in the Middle East and the Royal Navy had a crucial role in ensuring that supplies and troops continued to reach Britain and France. The Royal Navy was also hugely successful in blockading German ports and thus cutting off German supply lines.


British Military Aviation in 1918 - RAF History of the role of British air power in the First World War.

National Army Museum - Timeline of 1918 which shows how British troops were involved.

History Learning Site - the Spring Offensive. Details how Alied, including british, troops coped with the German attacks.

Star of Mons in the Ascendant - The Closing battles of Britain's army in the First World War.





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