The foundation of the Munitions Ministry was a revolutionary step, coinciding with the ‘shells scandal’ in which the failure of a series of British attacks: Neuve Chapelle, Aubers Ridge, Festubert and Loos – was blamed on inadequate supplies of munitions. A press outcry was followed by questions in Parliament which threatened to bring down the Government. The Ministry was set up in response. Previously, the War Office had been responsible for designing, ordering and inspecting ammunition factories and stores. But a year of war on a scale never foreseen, the creation of armies larger than ever contemplated, and the demand for unprecedented quantities of matériel showed the absolute necessity of providing centralised direction of mass war production. The Great War completely upset normal industrial conditions. Preparing this history of the Ministry of Munitions was started during the War itself. It was felt that consulting the officials concerned whilst they were still in post was vital, particularly as many such posts were temporary, and while the questions with which the history would deal were vividly present in their minds.
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