Monday, 14 March 2016

Wales in the First World War (Welsh History)

When the First World War began, Welsh chapels were initially opposed to the conflict and preached that it was a continental war that Britain should stay out of. But newspaper stories of German atrocities in Belgium soon changed their minds. Wales could sympathize with the oppression of a small country, and thousands signed up for the army.

Another way the Welsh were inspired by the war was in poetry, much of which was sentimental, by civilians and soldiers.
When first they fought at Ypres
By the early morning light,
The way they stormed the German trench
Was indeed a glorious sight.
(Corporal Oscar Foote of the Guards, 1914)
Back at home, the coal mines and the railways were put under government control, and mining wages rose due to the huge demand for coal. But food rationing, price control and conscription were much less popular.

When the war ended in 1918, Wales was a very different place. The violent opposition to the government had pushed the people towards the Labour Party.

[adapted from Highlights of Welsh History by Phil Carradice]

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