In many ways the First World War was a watershed for British society. Those four years of national crisis and extreme nationalist fervour left an indelible imprint. For the majority, brought up on the popular culture of the imperial myth, it started as the ultimate ‘Boy’s Own’ adventure, but as the full horror gradually unfolded and the casualty lists escalated many developed a more critical attitude. After the terrible losses of the battles of 1915 and 1916 practically everyone was grieving for a lost relative, neighbour or friend. The long duration of the war, brought about by the changing technology of warfare, led to a situation of ‘total war’ which required extensive new areas of state intervention for the necessary mobilization of resources. This had far-reaching repercussions for almost every area of life.
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