What did men do on the home front in World War One?

One hundred years ago life was hard for working men, with long hours and low pay.

Many worked in mining, shipbuilding and textiles. Others were farmers, shepherds or fishermen.

Richer men with a better education might have worked as doctors or in banking.

Men from the upper class were often rich as they inherited money from their family and owned land. Some became government ministers.

An illustration of men working in defence, industry and food, during World War One

Working in defence

During World War One, lots of jobs were aimed towards keeping the peace at home in Britain.

Policemen warning people to take cover during an air raid in World War One

Police officers made sure people obeyed new wartime rules

They checked if people's homes were properly covered up during black-outs. If not, the owner would be fined.

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Working in industry

Production of weapons, ammunition and war machines increased. This caused some industries such as ship building, steel factories and munitions (the production of weapons) to grow.

Three miners with pit ponies in the early 1900s

Coal was essential for running trains, making electricity and heating

Coal mining was a dangerous job. Many miners felt their safety wasn’t properly considered. Small horses were used to move around carts full of coal, these were called pit ponies.

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Working to make food

Men worked in the countryside, on the coast and in shops to provide enough food for everyone in Britain and to supply the army.

A farmer and his wife at work on a specially built tractor in the early 1900s

Farms were usually worked by a farmer with the help of his family

A shortage of farm labourers during the war meant there was less help available for hard work such as ploughing, harvesting and looking after animals.

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How did life change for men?

Many jobs on the home front were known as ‘reserved occupations’. They were vital to the war effort and the men who did them stayed in Britain.

Clergymen also stayed at home to look after the needs of their communities, though some went to war as chaplains.

Doctors were needed to tend to the sick and wounded in Britain too.

Whether or not men went away, their lives were forever affected by the war.

Men working in an English shell factory during World War One

Where next?

World War One