A Popular History of The Great War/Volume 1/Page 66

The home of the Lonsdale Battalion 1914-1918
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THE OUTBREAK OF WAR


Articles of luxury, pictures, and the like became suddenly unsaleable. The fashionable dressmaker found that her best customers were no longer thinking of fresh stocks of costly and beautiful attire, but were absorbed in work for the sick or in preparations for the wounded. Entertaining ceased, and the army of caterers for the luxurious found themselves idle. This condition of things naturally told on employment. Thousands of young women, shorthand typists and general assistants, were thrown out of work by the closing down of offices. Some factories ran on half time, and some shut altogether. Here and there patriotic business men, possessed of unusual resources, did not permit their people to suffer. "You have stood by us in good times. We will stand by you in bad," they said; and they paid wages in full and kept their staffs unbroken.

Employers in some cases met their men and discussed the situation with them. Here and there the workers took the initiative. "We recognize that there is not enough business coming in to keep all of us employed," the workers in one large house wrote to their chief. "We know that some readjustment must be made. We should be glad if, in place of discharging part of the staff, you would allow us to keep together, to share the loss in common, and to have wages reduced all round rather than some be discharged and others kept on at full wages."

Holiday makers returned home as soon as war was declared, and the thousands of lodging-house keepers and hotel keepers at the seaside and in the country found their living gone. The plight of those people who had gone abroad and had deferred their return too long was serious. Many of them underwent extreme hardships and a considerable number only managed to get home after long delay and after overcoming many difficulties. In those days passports were not necessary for travel on the continent and in many cases people had difficulty in proving their nationality; they had still greater difficulty in obtaining money.

As soon as it became apparent that Germany would pass through Belgium by force of arms if necessary, a great change came over Great Britain. Plans for home defence, which had been carefully worked out by the War Office, came into effect. Railway stations, bridges, and water and lighting works were placed under military guard. A large number of special constables was enrolled to assist the regular police in the many new

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