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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 drive to Victory in 1918

In the spring of 1918 the Germans launched a series of large offensives. These were an attempt to win the war before the bulk of the US forces could be brought into action on the Western Front. The German army made some large gains during these offensives but the Allied line held and the German advance was halted.

The German failure to break the Allied lines in these spring offensives was to prove to be their downfall. The Allies were bolstered in 1918 by the arrival of troops and supplies from the United States. Tactics were continuing to be developed and improved and in 1918 the Allies were able to make effective use of a combination of artillery, tanks, aircraft and infantry on the battlefield. This allowed for a much more mobile assault with cover being provided for the infantry from above and alongside.

The final push to victory:

The Battle of Le Hamel

The Battle of Le Hamel saw a break with earlier tactics. The Australian commander in charge of preparations opted to not have a large barrage prior to the assault. He realised that such barrages simply served as a warning of an impending attack. Instead he opted for a 'peaceful penetration' policy which used tanks (60) and heavy machine guns to support advancing infantry. Artillery opened fire as the assault was launched and the ground forces were supported by aircraft. The Germans were taken completely by surprise and the objectives were met in just 93 minutes.

The Second Battle of the Marne

The Second Battle of the Marne proved to be the last German offensive of the war. The germans hoped to split French forces near Rheims and advance quickly through allied lines. Instead the Allies, bolstered by the arrival of 85,000 US soliders in the area, managed to withstand the assault. Once the german attack withered away a massive counter attack was launched with 350 tanks and 24 divisions of the French Army (along with other units from the British, Belgian and US armies) taking part. The Germans were forced to retreat to heavily fortified positions along the Aisne river.

The Battles of Epethy and Havrincourt

Though both relatively small battles these both confirmed to the Allies that the German will to fight was on the wane and demonstrated that the creeping barrage had now been developed into a deadly tactic. Epethy also marked the first assault conducted and planned solely by members of the American Expeditionary Force. These small victories encouraged the Allied commanders to bring forward plans to attack the heart of German defences.

In August 1918 General Haig ordered a series of assaults that pushed the Germans back to the Hindenburg Line. In September the first attacks were made on these defences, attacks which continued into October. These proved to be quite successful and the german line was penetrated on a number of occasions. As these attacks were taking place the German High Command was beginning to sue for peace terms, asking the Americans for an Armistice as early as October 3rd.

Why did the Allies win in 1918?

- Germany was at starvation point. The Naval blockade was highly effective and Germany was struggling to supply its forces with sufficient food, weapons and other essential supplies.

- A massive influenza epidemic was spreading through Europe at the time and had hit the Germans particularly hard.

- The Allies were bolstered by the arrival of new, fresh, troops from the United States.

- Tactics had by 1918 been developed that enabled the Allies to penetrate enemy lines. New technologies helped in this respect.




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