Post 2 – Tamina and Sarah
What was life like for the women, children and men who stayed at home?
How did men who were not fighting get treated?
At the start of World War One there was a great amount of pacifists, they refused to have anything to do with the war. These pacifists were few in number and would have had no impact on the number of fighting men Britain had. However, despite their lack of numbers, the military and War Office came down on the pacifists.
So many men volunteered for the British Army, that the few pacifists were all overlooked. They had thought the war would be over by Christmas, so most men were more concerned about missing out as opposed to thinking about those who did not want to fight.
Religion was the main reason why men did not want to join up. Many men such as Bert Brocklesby were very religious. He said:
“God has not put me on this Earth to go destroying His children.”
Therefore, he refused to have anything to do with the military and the war.
Initially, the most these men could expect were white feathers being given to them and petty verbal abuse in the street. When it became clear that the war would not be over by Christmas, the attitude towards pacifists became more aggressive. In public, known pacifists ran the risk of being assaulted and thrown in jail for the most trivial of reasons.
While joining up was voluntary, the pacifists remained within the law if they had nothing to do with the fighting. The pacifists had to go before a military tribunal to explain why they believed they should be excused from fighting.
What challenges did people face?
A lot of women had to take over jobs the men had to do. They joined the police force, became post-women, drove buses and vans, worked in farming and forestry, and worked in munitions factories, which was very dangerous work. Some women would be overseas working with the army as nurses or drivers. A lot of women though seem to have enjoyed the challenges of these jobs, and found their work interesting.
There was also rationing in WW1, so people would have had to cope with food shortages, and doing without things. Upper and middle-class women would often have had to adapt to doing without servants, as many domestic servants went off to do war work, working in munitions factories. However, there were also air raids, a new form of warfare. They were at risk of being bombed because of this.
Families may have lost their loved ones in the war, many suffered with depression for the rest of their lives because of this.The conditions at factories were horrible, many women contracted cancer and became infertile. As well as men who participated in the war were introduced to many new diseases and sights they had never seen before.
What advantages were there to being at war?
The war gave women a chance to prove what they are capable of. They had gained respect and were treated equally as men. It gave men the opportunity to be independent and responsible. It gave them a job, and a duty to their country. Men gained respect and honor by fighting and were seen as ‘heroes’.
A British poem that was written during the first World War by Siegfried Sassoon (1886-1967).
“How to Die”
Dark clouds are smouldering into red
While down the craters morning burns.
The dying soldier shifts his head
To watch the glory that returns;
He lifts his fingers toward the skies
Where holy brightness breaks in flame;
Radiance reflected in his eyes,
And on his lips a whispered name.
You’d think, to hear some people talk,
That lads go West with sobs and curses,
And sullen faces white as chalk,
Hankering for wreaths and tombs and hearses.
But they’ve been taught the way to do it
Like Christian soldiers; not with haste
And shuddering groans; but passing through it
With due regard for decent taste.
How is World War 1 relevant to us today?
How is World War 1 remembered today?
World War 1 is a war many of us are familiar with. The War is one of the most important events in Britain’s history. The British were determined to remember the men and women who served in the War.
From 1919 onwards, many monuments, ceremonies and other memorials in different parts of the world have been put into place to remember the dead. As well as acts of remembrance that still continue today. Armistice Day is now called Remembrance Day. At 11 am, people all over the country stand in silence to remember the dead of the Great War and all other wars.
The blood red poppy is also a symbol of our Remembrance of the sacrifices made in past wars. Some people project the beauty and harsh realities of the war in art, music or poetry. Films have also been made to help us see the war and it’s effects more clearly.
What role do statues, memorials and popes play?
The statues, memorials and poppies honor the men and women who played a role in the war. It is a remembrance of all the soldiers that fought for their lives and their country. They are there to remind us how many people sacrificed their lives, due to the love they had for their beloved countries.
Why is it important for us to commemorate the First World War in South Africa?
It is important for South Africans to remember and show respect for the First World War, as it is good to know the history in other countries and what is the cause of world wars such as this one. It is important to know what people go through in order to fight for their country. People like to inquire about their ancestors, and many grandparents and great-grandparents have had the experience of being involved in the First World War.
What is being done around the world specifically to commemorate the centenary?
Across the world, nations, communities and individuals of all ages will come together to commemorate and remember the lives of those who lived, fought and died in the First World War. Already in peace, there is a restaurant that has 20 dates reserved in April to host lunches for the Australians who are going to visit their grandfathers’ graves. Some places have Rolls of Honour which shows people who par- ticipated in the war, not only those who gave their lives.
Source B is from Laurence Binyon’s poem For the Fallen, and was written in September 1914.
They shall grow not old
They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them.