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Myth or Reality on the Western Front. How accurate are the soldiers’ views of the experiences of the Great War?

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Pippa Cullingham Myth or Reality on the Western Front. How accurate are the soldiers' views of the experiences of the Great War? Recruitment World War One saw millions of men give up their jobs and leave their families to go to war between 1914 and 1918. In 1914 men volunteered on their own free will to go and fight, many with the illusion that it would be over by Christmas, but in 1916 conscription was introduced. This meant that all men that were over the age of eighteen and were fit to fight had to join one of the auxiliary forces to help the war effort. Sources A1 and A2 are posters which were used during the First World War to try and encourage people to join the army. Source A1 shows Kitchener, a war hero, addressing the reader directly. The words 'God save the King' and 'Join your Country's Army' are used to try and motivate people to join through patriotism. Source A2 shows a woman and her children looking out of a window and the troops in the distance. The caption says 'Women of Britain say- Go!' This implies that the women can cope at home while the men should go and fight for their country. These war posters were important because they encouraged men to fight when it was not compulsory to do so as there was no conscription. The King was used to try to achieve a sense of duty and patriotism. Some men felt they should join purely because the King supported it- they deferred to their betters. Women and families were also commonly used to create emotive feeling. It was implied that men should fight for their families and not feel guilt about leaving home. ...read more.


The town mayor organized it and each town would celebrate it as it brought a sense of pride and gave the town a good name. Examples of Pal's Battalions are the Coalminers from Newcastle or the Shoemakers from Northampton. Industry Battalions such as these brought pride in the workplace. However, when all the men in the Battalion came from the same area, all of the town's men could be destroyed at the same time. An example of this is the Sandringham Pals 1/5 Norfolk that was destroyed without trace and no bodies have officially been found. Women's Role During the First World War. With more and more men leaving their jobs to go and fight in World War One, more people were needed in Britain to continue the jobs that they had done. Women were looked to to do this. It was a chance for women to show their equality to men and prove that they could also do the jobs that it was thought only men could do. The war began in 1914 and by 1915 the whole of Britain's professional army had been destroyed. By 1916, more than 700,000 men from the volunteer army- Kitchener's army had also been destroyed. 1916 was the year that conscription was introduced. This meant that all men that were fit to fight between the ages of 18 and 41 had to join up. In January 1916, only the unmarried men were called on, but by April of the same year, married men were called up too. This continual demand for men to fight meant more and more women were needed to replace the men in the workplace as the war continued. ...read more.


Many other things changed that are not mentioned in Sources B1 to B8. During the war, the wealthy were heavily taxed so they could not afford servants once the war had ended. This made some women unable to go back into domestic service once the men had returned from the war. The Sex Disqualification Removal Act in 1919 meant that women could now go and work in the civil service or in the medical or legal profession too. In 1920, Oxford University decided that women could now go to university to receive degrees, whereas before they were able to study but not gain a qualification. In 1921, Marie Stopes set up the first birth control clinic in London and in 1925; Lady Astor became the first female MP. But the biggest change was probably in some women's attitude. They went against the traditional appearance of femininity and wore short skirts, had short hair, smoked and drank in public and refused to be chaperoned. However all of these changes generally only affected middle to upper class women. However, some things did not change for women. Source B2 supports the fact that between 1918 and 1919 men returned from war and took over their old jobs and women were forced to leave. They did not want to be seen to be taking jobs from war heroes. Agriculture remained a mans job, that women could not do, and only 31% of women had a job in 1921, that is actually less than the 32% of women that had jobs in 1911. Women were still not seen as equal to men, but the quality of life had improved. A historian, Trevor Wilson said, "that it left them second class citizens, but had improved the quality of second class travel." ...read more.

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