Week 28

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The Century Newsletter: Taking readers, day by day, back through the Great War of 1914-18.

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9th-15th February 1915

Glorious food

by David Hargreaves

The character of fighting on the Western Front during the week stayed local, but it continued to consume scores of young lives. The British Government became increasingly concerned: on the present reckoning, the day was approaching when they would no longer have the manpower to continue the struggle.

Meanwhile at sea came ominous signs that Germany might be to ready risk the wrath of America and would start destroying neutral shipping. For Britain, an island power utterly dependent upon imports to feed herself, the stakes could not have been higher.

MEN, WOMEN AND food: it was upon each of these that the minds of political and military chiefs in Britain now focused.

Men were a problem because so many were being killed or grievously injured that the ranks on the Western Front were thinning dangerously.

Women were not so much a problem as a solution. In many cases, common-sense dictated that they replace men in jobs which had been freed up. Often this worked very well – providing income for homes hard-pressed by rising prices and an outlet for the vast numbers of women who wished whole-heartedly, to play a useful part in the massive national exertion of war.

A thoughtful article in the Daily Express on 10 February considered that “…The cruel fires of warfare have purged away much of the frivolity and moral slackness of the past decade. Women have come out magnificently, have proved their ability to work, steadily and patiently, enduring in silence the agonies of anxiety and personal loss…The opportunity has come for a New Woman to make her influence felt.” (‘Frivolity’ and ‘moral slackness’ was Express-speak for the suffragette movement, something which had certainly become extremely bad-tempered before war broke out and from which many people had been happy to turn away. )

While the campaign for votes may have fallen into abeyance, the employment opportunities for women thrown up by the war highlighted rather than detracted from their servile position in the workplace. This was seen partly in the matter of wages, but also in terms of job tenure. What would happen to women, and more precisely to their jobs, when the men came home? ...
Read in full (http://back.thebrowser.com/introduction/glorious-food) .

News of the Week


Daily Express Hyphenated Americans

Kaiser Enthusiasts who are not Germans. There are some eighteen millions of citizens of the United States who are known as German-Americans. The Press of this picturesque Country refers to them as “the hyphenated ones.” They are of all sorts and conditions...


Daily Express Socialist Outburst in the Prussian Diet

Demand for Peace. A Socialist anti-war demonstration took place when the Prussian Diet was opened to-day, after Dr. Lentze, the Minister of Finance, had made a bellicose speech in which he declared that Great Britain must not starve the German Empire into making a disgraceful peace...

Tägliche Rundschau "Poisoned by English Venom"

What right has England to complain, this England, this freebooter of the world’s history, this State, born of and grown up in piracy, this England who opposed all attempts by civilised nations to base the rights and duties of naval warfare on considerations of humanity? ...


Letter of the Week Valetine's Day at the Front

My darling and loving wife Emily,

It is Valentines Day and my thoughts are with as always. I wish that I could be with you on this special day of love instead of being here in this hell hole which Belgium has become...

Daily Express Wide Gulf Separates the English from the German Spirit

In the course of its efforts to penetrate the chinks in the enemy’s armour, that sedate journal the
Tägliche Rundschau makes a terrific onslaught on “Tipperary,” and arrives at the conclusion that the adoption of this “battle song” is a sure and certain sign of British decadence...

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