Topic 14: Conscription

As the war progressed, further demands were made of the British people and of the county of Lincolnshire.

With the war continuing on multiple fronts and casualties mounting, moral suffered and distrust mounted. Hatred was directed towards people of foreign origins, and conspiracy theories circulated both privately and publicly. Conscription was introduced in March 1916, voluntary rationing was introduced in February 1917 and compulsory rationing began in December that year.

During this time, Lincolnshire’s industry was under increasing pressure to meet the needs of the Army, Navy and the newly formed Air force. Traditional businesses such as Tickler’s Jam in Grimsby played a crucial and yet often derided job of supplying food to the front line troops. Engineering firms and manufacturers produced arms, ammunition, aircraft and a newly developed secret weapon later known as ‘the Tank’. Private citizens also made direct contributions with national savings stamps, war bonds, paper collection and foraging for sphagnum moss (for field dressings) and horse chestnuts (for explosives).

In March 1918, the German Spring Offensive on the western front prompted the government to mobilise the Volunteer Training Corps for the defence of the coast and in May 1918 a number of proclamations were made by coastal towns and authorities on the actions to be taken by the civilian population in the event of a German invasion.

Instructions issued to the population of Grimsby in May 1918. (Original held by The Imperial War Museum)