The First World War had a profound impact on British society and on British relations with continental Europe, the Dominions, the United States and the emerging Soviet Union. The pre-war world was transformed, and the world that we recognize today began to take shape. That is why, 100+ years after the outbreak, the time is right for this collection of thought-provoking chapters that reassesses why Britain went to war and the preparations made by the armed forces, the government and the nation at large for the unprecedented conflict that ensued.
In 1901 Britain had a constitutional government, but it was not a fully-fledged democracy. In 1918 it became a democracy, with the introduction of universal adult male suffrage and votes for women aged over 30. World War One may not have initiated democratic change, but it determined its timing.
A group of distinguished historians looks back, with the clarity of a modern perspective, at the issues that were critical to Britain’s war effort as the nation embarked on the most intense and damaging struggle in its history. In a series of penetrating chapters they explore the reasons for Britain going to war, the official preparations, the public reaction, the readiness of the armed forces, internment, the impact of the opening campaign, the experience of the soldiers, recruitment, training, weaponry, the political implications, and the care of the wounded.
Chapters and Authors are:
The Origins of the First World War Revisited by Gary Sheffield. British Readiness for War by John Bourne. The Shock of War: How Britain Entered the First World War by Catriona Pennell. The National Response to the Outbreak of War, 1914 by Edward M Spiers. War Readiness in Britain: The Royal Navy, August 1914-January 1915 by Dominic Tweddle. True Grit: Officers of the British Expeditionary Force and the Great Retreat, 1914 by Spencer Jones. The Raising of the New Armies: Some further Reflections by Peter Simkins. First Clash of the Armies in the West: British and German Soldiers in Action, 1914 by Matthew Richardson. The Green Howards and Corporal Tom Riordan at the First Battle of Ypres by Roger Chapman. Britons in Berlin: Ruhleben – The Internment of British Civilians by Peter Liddle. The Torment of Captivity: Germans, Austrians and Turks Interned on the Isle of Man by Matthew Richardson. From Cricket Whites to Khaki- Sport and the Great War by Clive Harris. Infantry Weapons of the Great War by John Withchurch. “Kettledrums of Death”: Some Field Guns and Howitzers of the Great War by Philip Magrath. Silent Soldiers: Animals in the Great War by Paul Skelton-Stroud. New Horizons- A War in the Air, 1914 by Nick Forder. The Mobilization and Experience of Nurses in the First World War by Alison S. Fell. Tracing your Family’s History in the Great War by Chris Baker. The Liddle Collection of First World War Archival Materals in the University of Leeds by Peter Liddle. Lawnswood Cemetery in Leeds and the First World War by Andrea Hetherington.