Post War Soldier And Civilian Expectations Of The British Government

1439 words - 6 pages

British soldiers and civilians had high expectations of their government following World War 1, most of which did not eventuate. The soldiers needed understanding of their suffering and emotional pains of the war, while the British civilians felt that Germany's reparations were highly important in the short-term. Employment was a significant issue to both groups, with the soldiers arriving home to no jobs whilst the civilians wanted the security of their wartime trade, particularly women. The expectation that men and their families, who had fought in the war, would be looked after by the government through pensions was overwhelming and political support was crucial to this ...view middle of the document...

British civilians had expectations of their government following the First World War in relation to employment. The record lows of wartime unemployment led many to want the security of their jobs, particularly women, whilst the threat of Veterans taking their jobs was high. The health of the working population was low and to enhance that standard of living, workers pay levels rose. A further source of income was the placement of women into the workforce during the war. A working-class man observed in 1966 the effect of the wage levels, particularly on women and their expectations - After one customer in the grocery store, who worked in the munitions factory, rudely asks for 'summat worth chewin', the old man replies after damning her from the shop "Before the war", he fumed "that one was grateful for a bit o' bread and scrape". Despite women's hopes of continuing their working lives, they were discouraged and encouraged to return to the home once the soldiers returned home. Civilians expected job security and an expansion of the role of the government in reconstruction of the workforce, where they expected to play an important role due to their wartime service and employment. They expected to be provided with similar work and wages but Britain's inability to communicate their ideas of reconstruction to the civilians, unlike the soldiers, resulted in a conservative government not willing to improve the work crisis. A memorandum in T.Wilson's The Myriad Faces of War: Britain and the Great War 1914-1918 indicates that the government wished to inform the people on the homefront of the advantages of an Entente Peace to "dwell on the democratic development and improvement in the lot of the working classes", rather than employment reforms. Social reform was abandoned as a result of Britain's declining world financial position and therefore was only readily concerned with the employment issues striking the returned servicemen.Soldiers expected employment once being demobilized from the British government following World War One. At the front, soldiers were lectured on the British government's plans for minimum wages, housing and education, with an enthusiastic response. Despite large planning, most were not put into place. Due to fears of serious dislocation and unemployment, Slip notes were introduced, a messy and unfair process that was a form of selective demobilization. A returning soldier would approach on their former employer, ask for their job back and if the employer replied with a slip, the two matching forms would release the soldier from duty. This method was unsuccessful, unpopular and not met with much long-lasting employment, due to opportunities seized by those civilians who did not fight in the war. As a result of large debts faced by the government in the post-war period, there was increased unemployment, taxation and the soldiers demobilized first were re-absorbed into the economy, later facing unemployment and begging. A commander...

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