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Remembered Today:

Equality in suffering


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Hi

In WW2 the hardships of that war are considered to have been fairly reasonably shared across the whole of the British population. Why did this not happen in the Great War?

Arnie

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arnie, in the 2nd world war rationing effected everyone or so we are told!, but in the first world war because of the strength of the british navy, our imports were not as greatly affected

but in both wars money could buy you anything, if you knew the right people!

enoch

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This poster, from a current string, indicates that hardships were perhaps not expected to be equally shared in WW1! It also points to a reason why sharing might not have been equal - hardship on the home front was something for the lower classes! :angry: Phil B

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A couple of things, assuming this question was not a troll.

1 - The notion of Democracy, the way we think of it today, was not current at the time. Every class or substation in that class had it's duty and obligations which were expected and recognized at the time. - Officers were expected to be Gentlemen, therefore the gov't didn't buy them clothes or meals (both of which were true even down to my days in the service!) Officers weren't really supposed to be armed for combat the same way and their pistol was more for emphasis which is why many carried only their cane ... 50 years previous the US draft allowed people to buy their way out or find substitutes ...

Home front deprivations were never shared equally even though the propaganda machines during both wars tried to make it seem at least closer to the truth. MONEY/Power always means a better life ... let's get that straight ... always. This can be open or hidden ... but it does. By the end of WWI the uppers had to be careful as to not show their advantages and in their eyes they might have actually changed more than the lower orders in terms of lifestyle and the like. This goes throughout society and the military ... remember that the Red Tabs were being accusted in the streets by angry civilians that the General Staff boys were dry and alive while others were dying in the trenches ...

By WWII there was a) less difference in lifestyles to begin with, B) a more democratic tenor and the privations were more equally shared ... but money buys a lot .. if you had it, you did well ...

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Chris

During WW2 rationing was on from the very beginning and in fact probably for the first time poor people ate very similar to the rich.

Conscription was applied universally men and women with stronger rules to catch the dodgers.

Course there were people who would use their wealth and position to gain advantage, staying in England was often more dangerous than being in the Army

But the main factor I suppose that the war Leader was Churchill, but Attlee and the Bevan actually ran the country and they ensured that as far as was humanly possible hardship was shared as equel as posssible.

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Economic hardship would be relative to what they enjoyed pre-War, rather than looking merely at the lower socio-economic sections of society in relation to their middle and upper class counterparts.

War also acts to improve some people's lives through increased demands for their labour in expanding industries (the shipyards are a case in point).

And not to forget that the traditional upper classes were especially hard-hit in relation to the numbers of their sons etc. killed in action.

There was and always will be inequalities - attempts to address this in totalitarian nations where surgeons are paid the same as a dustman serve to serve some ideal merely promote further inequalities. One of my old tutors did his PhD on society in wartime Britain (WW2) and debunked an awful lot of myths concerning a temporary loss of class-consciousness and economic tensions.

Richard

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We seem to have overlooked the fact that rationing did exist in the UK in WW1.Not sure when it was introduced but I have an old ration book at Home and I have a pass issued to yet another Uncle which allowed sugar to be purchesed whilst he was home on leave shortly after the Armistice.

It is surprising how things were disguised during WW2 to allow a semblance of normality especiially for the rich and famous.For example, My Policeman Father told the tale of crows being shot in Scotland and sold as pheasant in top London Restaurants.

Correct me if I'm wrong but did rationing in WW2 not improve the diet generally of the Nation.I accept the portions were small and people did eke them out by growing their own.Nutrionists now would probably argue that we should return to a WW2 style of diet.

George

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There was and always will be inequalities - attempts to address this in totalitarian nations where surgeons are paid the same as a dustman serve to serve some ideal merely promote further inequalities.

and you tend to end up with a lot of sick or dying dustmen: my son-in-law has just made Consultant after 17 years study and work, and that was reckoned to be quick in his chosen field.

We dustmen tend to be fully trained a little quicker than that.

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During WW1 rationing did not start until well into 1917 all previous rationing was conducted by price. Unfortunately unless you were in the upper class or employed in a war industry you tended to suffer.

The people who suffered most were the disabled, old and of course the families of servicemen who for what ever reason could not work. In 1917 it was found in the in the North, Scotland and parts of Wales that some soldiers families were suffering from the first stages of malnutrition.

During the so called man power scandals of 1917 it was found it was relatively easy for the upper class to avoid conscription getting their doctor to provide a certificate that the man or his spouse was suffering from a nervous complaint. On the other hand Pauper Asylums were emptied of pauper lunatics who were then called up into the army. some lasted a while some only days but they were stilled called up. (See the case of Virginia Woolf in The Forgotten Lunatics of the Great War Peter Barham).

Although the ratio of Officers to men in Battle was 30 to 1, the incidents of shell shock was one officer in every six cases. At the outset of the war the army had two diagnosis for shell shock one for officer and the the other for the men. The simple reason was to prevent the officers being sent to a Pauper Imbecile Hospital like an ordinary soldier.

During the Battle of Passchendaele it was found that men who were supposed to have be in the army were on extended leave supposedly helping with the harvest but were in fact working in their civilian occupation below stairs

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In the battle field there was an unfairness regarding conditions.

Officers were on a different ration scale, receiving wine and spirits in the trenches at a discount rate. ( Even the soldiers rum ration was at the discretion of the divisional commander)

Soldiers leave was a privilege that could be stopped at any time at the discretion of his company commander. Officers Officers leave was by right. he had a higher leave allocation and could accumulate leave. Very few Officers ever did longer than a year with out home leave. Some soldiers only had three weeks total in four years

Oh by the way the person with the shortest life expectancy in the line was not junior officer but runners and signal line men. The upper class did not have the highest number of casualties that honour goes to the mining communities of Great Britain as a trade or section of the population they provided more volunteers and suffered more casualties than the next two sections of the community put together.

Arnie

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I have never thought of this but does any one know if New Zealand had rationing in WW1. All my books are in storage at the moment so I cannot answer my own question. I know in WW2 we had it as I still have my mothers ration book. I no that the temperance society in NZ almost won the prohibition vote but it was the only the votes from returning troops that saved the day. Thank God.

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Dunno bout rationing in NZ, but the book 'The War Effort of NZ" on pg XVIII it states that in 1915, all food exports were banned to countries other than Britan.

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