How Did the First World War Affect British Society

Topics: World War I, Social class, World War II Pages: 7 (2524 words) Published: March 12, 2013
When we think about war, we think about words like death, disabled people, conquer and destroy. Without exception, the Great War during 1914-1918 was a catastrophe to the people and the countries involved. For Britain, the casualty numbered approximately 722000. It counts for 6.3 percent of the male aged 15-49 of the whole country (Beckett, 2001: 312). 1600000 wives lost their husbands. 300000 children lost their father. Millions were wounded or disfigured permanently (Bourne, 1989:178). Though miseries bought by the war were hard to release, on the other hand, a dissolving effect on the structure of the society as a consequence of the war generated positive influences on the British community (Marwick, 2006: 27). For instance, relative weak groups like women and working-class strengthened their power and earned their recognition in the wartime (Marwick, 2006: xiii). These could be considered significant as they had brought permanent impact on the British society. The relevance between the Frist World War and the changes in British society is the main theme that will be examined in this essay. The first part will focus on general impact of the war on society. Then the second and third part will analyze how exactly the relationship and process is on two aspects of class and gender under the impact of the Great War.

'War and society could not be categorically differentiated' (Marwick, 2006: xii). In spite of the military event occurred in the process of the Great War. The support from the British society, 'a war behind a war', was the real reason for obtaining victory of this battle. By the time of the declaration of the war, British society was less prepared for the war than the army. The pre-war military demands was no that urgent. Only 120000 men, 40000 animals, 334 lorries, 133 cars, 166 motor cycles, 300 guns and 63 aircraft. Army of this size showed barely no influence on the economic and social life of Britain. However, by the year 1918. The BEF had 2360400 men, 404000 animals, 31770 lorries, 7694 cars, 3532 ambulances, 14464 motor cycles, 6437 guns and 1782 aircraft (Bourne, 1989: 177). The growing dimension of the army would demand for more fiscal expenses. Under the escalation of war expense. The total war cost for Britain was expected to be like $43.8 billion (Beckett, 2001: 253). Meanwhile, the level of national debt increased. Britain, by 1918, gained a every four months increase in debt which is more than the total debt during the period of French Revolutionary from 1792-1815. The war left Britain a heavy burden of debt than before the war. Meanwhile, The expenditure of human-power casualties in the war was excluded(Beckett, 2001: 254). Apart from the economic burden, It also lead to a high level of requirement in medical services, road transportation and railway carrying capacity (Bourne, 1989:177).Basically, No section of British society was immune from the repercussions of war conducted on such a scale. Without the endeavor of the society, there is no way for British army to make strides in the war.

Contrary to the general recognition of the tremendous strives made by the notables, 'A history of war must be a history of all participants, and not simply of elites and leaders' (Marwick, 2006: xii). When declaration of war, patriotism made all fears vanished away. It met with an impressive display of national unity. Armies are formed by working-class of miners, dockers and railwaymen. Trade men also respond to the countries' call of duty (Bourne, 1989:106). Large scales of enlistment indicated that the whole country was driven by the war without precedent. approximately 4 million men joined the army which count for 24 percent of male adult population, and 1.5 million more people were working for munitions(Robb, 2002: 67). In addition, The increase of trade union in Britain during the period of 1913-1920 was dramatic. The figure almost doubled from 4.1 million to 8.3 million(Beckett, 2001: 320). Generally,...
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