Britain at War (1914-1919)
The war was a monster, led by generals or statesmen, that killed nine million men. It caused the ruin of four great empires, the communist revolution in Russia and the rise of dictators like Mussolini and Hitler. Britain escaped devastation and political breakdown, but was economically weakened. Britain did not fight since Napoleonic wars, so it was unprepared for the destructive power of new artillery and machineries and suffered in the early phases. The War poets considered stupid the war and depicted the condition of forced immobility and passivity of soldiers in the trenches. In 1916, when volunteers proved to be insufficient, a Military Serviced Act forced men (also if workers) between the ages of 18 and 41 to fight. Women replaced men in their civilian jobs with passion, competence and reliability. During 1916, allies Canada, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa reinforced the British troops in France. But heavy losses at Verdun and the trench warfare contributed to the spread of discontent. American troops in France defeated Germany in November 1918. The peace treaty was signed at Versailles in 1919. The victory brought Great Britain to expand its colonial possession, but economic slump, unemployment and the Irish question remained.