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In 1915 a British newspaper printed a letter from a

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Introduction

HISTORY COURSEWORK In 1915 a British newspaper printed a letter from a "Lady Reader" who claimed: "The women of Britain will tolerate no such cry as Peace". Do you think that the young men of Britain would have agreed with the Lady Reader during the Great War, 1914-1918? In August 1914, Lord Kitchener, Secretary of State for War, saw that the conflict would be long and hard fought, and proposed a revolutionary plan for new armies of millions of volunteers, as Britain previously only relied on a small professional force. His own grim face, over the slogan "Your Kind and Country Need You'', appeared in the first poster appeal for recruits. Until conscription was introduced in 1916, young men were subjected to relentless social pressures, both official and unofficial, to join the army. In 1915 a British newspaper printed a letter from a "Lady Reader" who claimed "the women of Britain will tolerate no such cry as Peace." This negative statement emphasizes that they would not be satisfied with peace and wanted the war to continue. In the early years of the war, this would not have been met with resistance among the young men of Britain. Pre-war propaganda and advertising led to the great excitement and hype among Britain's young men ready to enlist. All young men wanted to be involved in the war movement, believing it was their duty - as many of the propaganda posters had emphasized. But many young volunteers felt compelled to take up arms by the public. As one man remembers "It is the feeling that you are wanted and being sent - it's not your choice - it was decided on behalf of 'your King and Country.''' The use of women and children took many forms in the propaganda of this time as they were seen as the weak and vulnerable who relied on these brave young men to defend them. ...read more.

Middle

For thousands of men in the army it was the first time that they had been away from home and the 'noble cause' they were fighting for seemed harder to actually believe in. Any letters home were heavily censored and the soldiers could not talk about how they felt or what was actually happening. Most of the letters contained only trivial information. Harold Sandys Williamson wrote to his parents on January 26th 1918, "Tomorrow I expect to start a light job." But despite the censoring, the majority of the soldiers still managed to convey their true feelings. Private Jack Mudd wrote to his wife four days before his death in the Battle of Passchendaele: "We are expecting to go up again in two or three days, so dearest pray hard for me and ask Marie for God will not refuse her prayers, she doesn't know the wickedness of this world." News from home could take weeks to arrive. Without news from home, men worried about their families if they lived in an area that was under threat and about male relatives who were also away fighting. Private Jack Mudd continued: "I trust you and the children are quite well. I guess you have been worried with the air raids. You know dear, it's hard to be out here fighting and yet your wife and children cannot be safe. Still dearest don't worry, you have a 20,000 to 1 chance and God will watch over you as he has been with me ever since I have been out here." Having witnessed many of their friends and comrades slaughtered on the battlefields, many soldiers became depressed and demoralized. Soldiers remember the "devastation beyond words'' and being "broken hearted" at losing their friends. One soldier explains how they "couldn't stop to ask questions or help a friend - we just had to go on." This poem, MATEY, written in Cambrin in May 1915 illustrates the grief many had to face after losing their comrades: NOT comin' back to-night, matey, And reliefs are comin' through, We're all goin' out all right, matey, Only we're leavin' you. ...read more.

Conclusion

As Richard Torbin remembers: "The Armistice came, the day we had dreamed of. The guns stopped, the fighting stopped. Four years of noise and bangs ended in silence. The killing had stopped. We were stunned. I had been out since 1914. I should have been happy. I was sad. I thought of the slaughter, the hardships, the waste and the friends I had lost." Corporal Clifford Lane wrote: "As far as the Armistice was concerned, it was kind of an anticlimax. We just were too far gone, to exhausted really, to enjoy it." But while relief came, many young men also had emotions of anger as they had wanted to "push the Germans back all the way" and Smiler Marshall recalls how he has "never heard so much swearing." Now that the Germans were in retreat, many thought they could and should "finish the Jerrys off!" The Armistice also was a source of frustration as many of the soldiers asked, "Why have we lost millions of men when they sorted it out at a table? Why didn't they do that first?" and the Great War was seen as "a war that should never have happened"- but this was never versed as it would have been seen as unpatriotic. In hindsight, we can see that the opinions of the British young men towards war changed between the year 1914 and 1918. Although it is obvious that most of the men would have agreed with the "Lady Reader" in 1914 as the war was met with excitement and enthusiasm, this judgment may have been made in naivety and immaturity. It is only their mid-war and post-war opinions that most accurately display the true feelings of war as their knowledge and experience has culminated in this extensively considered decision. Therefore, I conclude that the majority of Britain's young men would have adamantly disagreed with the "Lady Reader's" statement of 1915, as their desperation to get out of the primitive trench life which they had been forced to endure for the best part of four years would have been paramount to them. 1 ...read more.

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