Manufacturing and the Great War
2013-06-20T07:44:10Z (GMT) by
In manufacturing and army terms, Britain was not able or geared up to deal with the Great War. It was able to cope with a small, short war on the continent as part of a larger coalition but not the global crisis that came about. Britain s research and development before the Great War had been in the Royal Navy. The army had been neglected. At the outbreak of the war it had been planned for the navy to carry the burden of the conflict but this proved to be an erroneous course of action. Very early in the war it became obvious that the armaments industry was unable to provide the munitions to prosecute the war to a successful conclusion. The government had to set up the Ministry of Munitions in order to co-ordinate the manufacturing ramp up , mobilise and train the nation for total war in order to meet the requirements of the armed forces to fight the war and solve the crisis. After leaks to the press and political manoeuvring, the Ministry of Munitions was set up to take away the responsibility of the War Office to manufacture, procure and supply munitions. It was a masterstroke. The workforce was increased by the introduction of semi-skilled labour and many of them being women they brought with them the need for welfare reform in the factories. Those reforms had a positive effect upon the male workforce and productivity in general. Semi-skilled workers were trained by educational establishments throughout the land and many modern universities, like Loughborough owe their very existence to the Great War. Loos was fought and lost on War Office contracts, Arras was amply supplied by Ministry initiatives and the 100 Days campaign of 1918 was made possible by massive, British manufacturing output. In essence, British manufacturing won the Great War. The war was a crisis solved by manufacturing. The thesis focuses mainly upon the primary source document that is the Official History of the Ministry of Munitions, war diaries and publications written at the end of in in the years after the Great War.