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Leicestershire & Rutland Remember the First World War


Life on the Home Front

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The Home Front – general memories of life on the home front in Leicester during the First World War. Includes going to the cinema, having to move house, receiving cards from father, lack of money, saying farewell to father at train station, not recognising father with a moustache, having to move from town to town, befriending Belgian refugees, moving away as father was a conscientious objector.

During September 1914 over a quarter of a million Belgian refugees, escaping from the invading German armies, began to arrive in the UK. The first refugees to arrive at London Road Railway station were met by a welcoming committee and initially the  Women’s Catholic League took responsibility for finding them homes, but as numbers increased a committee was set up to organise care for them. 

Food pt 1 – general memories of queuing for food, coping with shortages, making food.

In Leicester a loaf of bread that had cost 6s ½d in August 1914 was selling at 8s ½d six months later. By autumn 1915 granulated sugar had doubled in two years to 3s ¼d a pound. Bread was doctored by adding grains and potato flour that created what we would call ‘whole wheat’ but which led to grumbles from people who believed bread should be white. It was only in 1918, right at the end of the war, that rationing was introduced. Weekly allowances were 1½lb of meat per person, 4oz of butter or margarine and 8oz of sugar. Bread allowance was 4lb for women and 7lb for men.

Food pt 2 – memories of Leicester Market during the First World War, shortage of food.

Women working pt 1 – general memories of the work women did during the First World War in factories and on the land, often doing work men had done before.

In 1911 there were over 100 hosiery manufacturers in the town, and a total of 15,727 employees, of whom 12,117 were women.  The war made great demands upon the industry and many new firms were founded by the end of it. By 1921 there were over 200 hosiery firms in Leicester, and in 1923 25,490 insured persons were employed in them. That was just the hosiery industry.

The Leicester & District Armaments Group of Engineering Employers was a consortium of over 60 companies that came together as a result of the early realisation that the traditional means of shell production simply could not keep up with the demand from the front. The Group were pioneers in providing an alternative shell manufacturing capability, something that had previously only been satisfied by the Royal Arsenal at Woolwich and other approved private armament firms. By the end of 1915, the Group had produced almost 16,000 shells and by the end of the war, almost 800,000. There is more information on the Leicester Industrial History Society website where you can buy a facsimile of a 1919 report on the Group.

Women working pt 2 – memories of work on trains at Rothley and munitions at Standard Engineering.

Men working – general memories of the work men did during the First World War.

Zeppelins – memories of seeing zeppelins over Leicester and the bombing of Loughborough.

On the night of 31st January – 1st February 1916 zeppelins that were trying to find Liverpool but were confused by a combination of poor weather, difficult navigation and mechanical problems, bombed targets in the Midlands, including Loughborough. About eight o'clock in the evening of 31st January a succession of loud explosions were heard in the town. During the winter months there had been talk of air raids in the eastern counties, but no zeppelins had previously flown as far inland as Leicestershire. Warnings had been given by the police when air raids had been heard on the coast and on the evening of the 31st the police had warned tradesman and others that a raid was in progress.


Further Resources


BBC WW1 at Home 'Bottesford, Leicestershire: Children at War' - http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p02b5jvw

BBC WW1 at Home 'Hathern, Leicestershire: Shelter From Explosives' - http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p01s67t7

BBC WW1 at Home 'Loughborough, Leicestershire: Zeppelin Bombardment' - http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p01ws672

BBC WW1 at Home 'Nanpantan, Leicestershire: Boy Scouts' - http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p02b5jns

BBC WW1 at Home 'Stoke Golding, Leicestershire: Soldiers' Socks' - http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p01x8m2y

Kibworth's WW1 Poems - http://www.kibworth.org/warpoems.html

A Kibworth conscientious objector's appeal tribunal - http://www.kibworth.org/conscientiousobjector.html

Opposition to the First World War: Conscientious Objectors in Leicester by Malcolm Elliott - http://www.le.ac.uk/lahs/downloads/05_7799_vol77_Elliott.pdf

World War 1 - Shared Pasts Shared Futures: the Lives of Children - http://www.sdsa.net/the-lives-of-children/

World War 1 - Shared Pasts Shared Futures: Places of Interest - http://www.sdsa.net/Resource-Pack-4-Places-of-Interest/


BBC 'What did WW1 Really Do for Women?' - http://www.bbc.co.uk/guides/z9bf9j6

Conscientious Objectors in their own Words (Imperial War Museum website) - http://www.iwm.org.uk/history/conscientious-objectors-in-their-own-words

Nutrition and War - http://www.abdn.ac.uk/medical/nutritionandwar/

Women and the First World War (National Archives website) - http://www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/pathways/firstworldwar/document_packs/women.htm





The Start of the War

The Start of the War

Stranded in Australia

Attitudes to Germans

Signing Up

Billeting the Troops

Life on the Home Front

The Home Front

Food pt 1

Food pt 2

Women working pt 1

Women working pt 2

Men working


Death & Absence

Death & Absence pt 1

Death & Absence pt 2






Back to Work


Counting the Cost

Information about the recordings

Further Resources and Links


Home>>Community>>Resources>>WW1>>Home Front

Last updated: 24/11/2014
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