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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.

Conscienscious Objectors during the First World War

A Conscienscious objector is somebody who refused to join the army because of their religious or moral opposition to fighting. This group of people included those such as Jehovah's Witnesses or Quakers who objected due to religious beliefs and others who were pacifists (people who don't want to do any harm to other people, whatever the circumstances).

Many conscienscious objectors were willing to undertake non combat roles within the forces. This could include jobs such as working in military hospitals, as stretcher bearers or as a messenger. Others refused to participate in any way at all. In Great Britain there were some 16,000 people who were registered as conscienscious objectors during the First World War. These people had the right to vote taken away from them for 5 years.

In order to be granted exemption from conscription a man would need to convince a tribunal that they were genuine conscienscious objectors, rather than cowards. The tribunals had the power to grant exemption from military service; to allocate specific civilian roles; or to refuse the claim and enforce conscription. In the latter case the conscienscious objector would then be subjected to military punishments if they failed to enlist when ordered to do so.

One third of registered conscioenscious objectors were imprisoned for some part of the war. Some 1500 'absolutists' were locked up for the whole of the war. Few people in the public had much sympathy for conscienscious objectors who were imprisoned. They were derided in the press and campaigns for peace were sometimes violently opposed by people.





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