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The Home Front - Deepening Conflict

David Bilton
The author's interest in this period was aroused by his grandfather's refusal to talk about his Great War experiences. His subsequent research has resulted in numerous books about the British and German Armies and the Home Front. His first book, “The Hull Pals“, was used as the basis of the BBC series “The Trench“.

This volume, the second in a series, is a photographic record of the effects of the war on the Home Front during 1915. The first book, “Call To Arms - Over By Christmas,“ has just been reviewed by MoleBath.

With a short Introduction the scene is set for 1915. Early optimism had been dashed and the troops were not home by Christmas, furthermore Kitchener had warned that the conflict was likely to last at least three more years.

Many of the photographs, taken by both sides during the early part of the war, have not been seen before. What is so striking is that, without the difference in dress or uniform, it would be difficult to tell friend from foe. Each side faced broadly similar problems and by and large addressed them in the same way. Food shortages were yet to come, although soup kitchens and feeding stations were in evidence largely to provide for the poorer sections of the community who could ill afford to have the breadwinner away from home. Greater numbers of females were seen doing what was formerly considered men's work and casualties and prisoners were displayed with something akin to pride. Both sides, even at this early stage, were already publishing propaganda pictures.

Humour, defiance and determination are still apparent with no sign of the weariness and fatigue which was to come. It will be interesting to see later books as the effects of total war began to bite.

David Bilton has certainly opened a new perspective on the Great War.

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