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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.

Measures introduced to cope with the U-Boat menace during the First World War

The German's had a large and powerful navy during the First World War but were unwilling to risk it being destroyed by the Royal Navy. After the Battle of Jutland the German fleet retreated to the ports and played little part in the war. However the Germans were keen to inflict damage on the Royal Navy and merchant shipping. To do this they made use of submarines (U-Boats).

In the early stages of the war the U Boats operated largely within the North Sea and British waters. U Boats carried several torpedoes and initially even allowed crews of merchant ships to leave the vessel before sinking it. As merchant vessels began to be armed and escorted the tactics changed and a more aggressive approach was taken.

On May 7th, 1915 a German U Boat fired upon and sank the US Liner, Lusitania. The sinking of a passenger ship very nearly brought America into the war. German policy changed again. Merchant vessels were issued warnings and checks were to be carried out before a ship was to be sunk. However this policy was very shortlived as it meant that little damage was done to merchant shipping.

In 1917 the German U Boat fleet resumed unrestricted attacks on shipping. Any vessel going to / from Britain was seen as a legitimate target, irrespective of the ships nationality. The impact was devastating. The data below shows how much shipping was lost as a result of this new campaign:

February 520,000 tons sunk

March 560,000 tons

April 860,000 tons

May 616,000 tons

June 696,000 tons

July 555,000 tons

The British response to the increased losses was quick and relatively effective. Merchant vessels were organised into convoys that were protected by the Royal Navy. Minefield were laid to try and prevent the U Boats from getting into the North Atlantic. Aircraft were used near the coast to spot and attack U Boats. The convoys sailed in a 'zig zag' pattern rather than in straight lines, to make it harder for U Boats to get an easy shot. New technologies were also adopted as sonar and depth charges were added to many vessels.


UBoat.net - detailed account of submarine warfare in the First World War.

BBC - The U-Boat theat.

Wikipedia - Naval warfare of World War One.




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