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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 Failure of the Schlieffen Plan

In 1914, Germany believed that they would go to war with Russia. If this happened then Germany assumed France would also attack them as she was a friend of Russia. This meant that German would be attacked on both sides of her country. Germany wanted to avoid this at all costs. Germany wanted to defeat France quickly and then attack a major Russia. This was called the Schlieffen Plan.

The German Army Chief of Staff, Alfred von Schlieffen was asked to plan a war on two fronts. His plan was produced in 1905. He believed that it was important to beat France quickly, making them give in before Russia could attack as well.
Schlieffen wanted to attack France through Holland, Belgium and Luxembourg. Schlieffen planned to use 90% of the German army to deliver a knock out blow to France. The remaining 10% would defend the eastern border of Germany against Russian attack.
Von Molkte replaced Von Schlieffen in 1906, and made some changes to the plan. His did not want to invade Holland, but attack Belgium. He hoped that the Belgium army would not be able to resist a powerful German army and Germany could enter France.

Von Moltke assumed four things:

Russia would take at least 6 weeks to mobilise.

France would be easily defeated in 6 weeks.

Belgium would not resist any German attack.

Britain would remain neutral.

On 2nd August 1914, the German army invaded Luxembourg and Belgium.

The Germans were stopped by the Belgium army helped up by the BEF (British Expeditionary Force) which arrived extremely quickly. Russia also organised their army in just 10 days and Germany was forced to withdraw troops to defend her eastern border. Germany did not take the chance to take Paris, instead decided to attack east of the capital. They were met by French at the battle of the Marne (5-11 Sept) which halted the German advance.




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