Halifax was surprised by the outbreak of war in August 1914 but within days the public mood had turned into a staggering display of unified support. Voluntary fund raising organisations sprang up and bore witness to an incredible self-help ethic that supported the troops at the front, their dependant families at home and the returning wounded. People came to fear the Zeppelins, were forced to retrieve their children from German naval guns in Scarborough and read with horror the stories of local lads gassed at the front. Residents of German descent found themselves in difficult situations, and Belgian refugees were offered sanctuary. Struggling local industry was revitalised by government orders for Khaki cloth, machine tools and munitions. Halifax can claim to have contributed many interesting technological items such as bomb release mechanisms, flame projectors and Tommy’s iconic bowl shaped steel helmet. Women were increasingly employed in traditional male occupations. In 1917 the food crisis fermented tensions, but at the end of 1918 there was triumph – of a sort.
HALIFAX IN THE GREAT WAR
Introducing Your Towns and Cities in the Great War, describing the impact of the First World War on local communities in the UK.
The series records, through words and photographs, how each year of the war brought a change in the spirit of the populace as the huge battles taking place in Belgium, France, Gallipoli and elsewhere, took their toll on the menfolk.
Knowledgeable authors document the stories of how these cities and towns were affected by the conflict by researching the local newspapers of the day; along with letters, diaries, photograph albums, parish magazines, trade journals and contemporary printed pamphlets etc, located in the local library archives.