What was life like for the women, children and men who stayed at home?
- How did men who were not fighting get treated?
During World War One there were those who were pacifists and refused to have anything to do with the war.
The pacifists were few in number. However, the military and War Office came down on pacifists were great energy.Religion was the main reason why men did not want to join up.
Initially, these pacifists could expect verbal abuse in the street. Later they ran the risk of being assaulted and thrown in jail for the smallest of reasons.
In February 1916, all conscientious objectors had to go before a military tribunal to explain why they believed they should be exempt from fighting. They were given a hard time and one was told that he “was only fit to be on the point of a German bayonet.”
Some conscientious objectors were put into solitary confinement and fed on bread and water. Some senior Army officers called for these men who refused to do anything for the war effort to be shot.
- What challenges did people face?
World War I gave women a chance to show a male-dominated society that they could do more than simply bring up children and stay at home. In World War I, women played a important role in keeping soldiers equipped with ammunition and in many senses they kept the nation moving through their help in various industries. With so many young men volunteering to join the army, and with so many casualties in the war, a space was created in employment and women were called on to fill these gaps.
World War I was to prove a turning point for women. Before the war, women had no socio-economic power at all. By the end of the war, women had proved that they were just as important to the war effort as men had been. Women found employment in transportation including the railroads and driving cars, ambulances, and trucks, nursing, factories making ammunition, on farms in the Women’s Land Army, in shipyards etc. Before the war, these jobs had been for men only with the exception of nursing.
Life for the children was very tough during that period of time. Children were depressed because their dads and brothers went to war. The problem was also that they could not afford to buy food, or clothing. Children did not know what was going to happen to them. They could wake up and would have to be taken to a new place. Everywhere was very dangerous.
Some men refused to go to war, some of them were stretcher bearers or they peeled potatoes and prepared food for the soldiers.
- What advantages were there to being at war?
The war bestowed two valuable legacies on women. First, it opened up a wider range of occupations to female workers and hastened the collapse of traditional women’s employment, particularly domestic service.
The Industrial Revolution grew more powerful each year as new inventions and manufacturing processes added to the efficiency of machines and increased productivity. Since World War I the mechanization of industry has increased enormously.
Kyle Lee and Wade Mansfield.