Army boots

The legacy of WW1

by John Davies

Some 40,000 Welshmen died during the First World War. The deaths were only one aspect of the tribulations which the Welsh, in common with the rest of Europe, suffered as a result of the conflict.

Among the most important of them was the dislocation of the economy. Coal production, at its peak in 1913, had clearly reached an unsustainable level, but war demands and the amazing post-war boom ensured there was no rational reassessment of production.

The boom collapsed in 1921, a foretaste of the depression which would haunt the subsequent years. The war undermined allegiance to the Liberal Party and destroyed the optimism characteristic of pre-war Welsh society. Welsh nationality, so robust at the turn of the century, became something which needed to be defended and cosseted.

The war had a profound impact upon the countryside, striking the final blow which destroyed the estates of the landed gentry. Organised religion, a dominant feature of Victorian and Edwardian Wales, went into rapid decline, partly because of the cynicism caused by the activities of clerical recruiters.


From the archive

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After the war

An elderly World War One veteran reveals his reservations about the conflict.

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Soldiers from WWl

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