Arming the Western Front : war business and the state in Britain, 1900-1920

LLOYD-JONES, Roger and LEWIS, Merv (2011). Arming the Western Front : war business and the state in Britain, 1900-1920. Farnham, Ashgate.

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Abstract

David Lloyd George held all the key offices of government during the Great War, Chancellor of the Exchequer, Minister of Munitions, Secretary of State for War, and from December 1916 Prime Minister. He came to recognise that the war was an industrial war, fought by powerful industrialised nations that could mass-produce war goods to supply large armies. The nation that could supply the most material force would prevail, in all probability. The American Civil War was the first national industrial war, but the Great War was the first industrial war on a world scale. To prosecute industrial war required the mobilisation of economic resources for the mass production of weapons and munitions, which necessarily entailed fundamental changes in the relations between the state (the procurer), business (the provider), labour (the key productive input), and the military (the consumer). In this context, the industrial battlefields of France and Flanders intertwined with the home front that produced the material to sustain a war over four long and bloody years. At the end of 1914, trenches stretched from the Belgium coast to the Swiss frontier, and the defenders constructed trench systems for defence in depth and ‘linked to each other by communications systems’. Attacking infantry faced the great problem of making advances ‘across … no-man’s-land’, against quick-firing rifles, deadly machine guns, and the most murderous weapon of all, ‘enemy artillery.’ The great problem was to deliver the fire-power to attacking forces to break deeply entrenched positions, and as the war escalated into 1915 and 1916, the military commanders demanded increasing supplies of the industrial weapons of war. In turn, this required a mobilisation of the physical and human resources of the home front. Men and women toiled in the workshops of all the combatant powers to produce the munitions required to break the stalemate on the Western Front. The result of industrial warfare was the sacrifice of men to the war machine, the cost counted in the millions of dead that lay fallen on the battlefields of the Western and Eastern Fronts

Item Type: Authored Book
Additional Information: This work is currently in press and awaiting the proofs.
Research Institute, Centre or Group: Humanities Research Centre
Depositing User: Merv Lewis
Date Deposited: 08 Jun 2015 11:28
Last Modified: 08 Jun 2015 11:28
URI: http://shura.shu.ac.uk/id/eprint/10135

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