Map reveals terrifying scale of Home Front during First World War

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A new map has revealed the terrifying scale of the Home Front during the First World War.

While six million soldiers were fighting on the front line, millions more stayed at home to aid the fight from afar.

It was a huge part of British lives during the war, but more than two thirds of Brits admit they know little to nothing about the Home Front.

How WWI looked on the home front (

A new map has revealed the terrifying scale of the Home Front during the First World War (Picture:

From factory munitionettes to miners, messenger pigeon breeders and Boy Scouts spotting enemy ships, the war effort was something that engulfed almost every Britons life.

Expert genealogists from Ancestry have painted a picture of the home front effort, revealing and commemorating the locations where more than two million people contributed to the war effort at home, and will be unveiling plaques at the key locations.

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Russell James from Ancestry said: The Centenary moment gives us the opportunity to reflect on the brave efforts of millions of people during the War, both on and off the battlefields.



Ancestrys wealth and diversity of historical records has allowed us to shine a light on the heroic home front efforts for the first time.

We hope this will inspire more people to discover their ancestors roles in WWI in the run up to this milestone anniversary.

1916: Window cleaners set off to work in Piccadilly during World War I. (Photo by W. G. Phillips/Phillips/Getty Images)

Window cleaners set off to work in Piccadilly (Picture: Getty)

German state munition factory, World War I, 1917. The turning shop and hydraulic shell forming press. A photograph from Der Grosse Krieg in Bildern. (Photo by Art Media/Print Collector/Getty Images)

More than a million women were drafted in to build munitions (Picture: Getty)

Women were central to the war effort and between 1914–1917, an astounding 481 ships were built in Glasgow by a shipbuilding workforce that included 30,000 women.

In 1917, the Womens Land Army held a march through Birmingham to celebrate the 23,000 women who produced food and farmed the land after the majority of male agriculture workers headed to war.

By the end of 1918, one million women had become munitionettes, who created military armaments, with a significant amount being produced in the East Midlands and the North West.

The women were also known as Canary Girls as their skin and hair turned yellow from the chemicals used to produce the weapons.

During the war, Britain produced 170 million shells, 4 million rifles, 250,000 machine guns, 52,000 planes, 2,800 tanks and 25,000 artillery guns.

And it wasnt just munitions being churned out, the women also produced textiles, clothing, food, drink, tobacco, metal, paper wood and chemicals.

Waring & Gllow munitions factory, White City, Hammersmith and Fulham, London, August 1916. Women threading rope tyers into tent hems. One of a series of pictures of the Waring & Gillow factory, which was converted from furniture manufacture to war production during the First World War. Artist: Adolph Augustus Boucher. (Photo by English Heritage/Heritage Images/Getty Images)

The women, also known as Canary Girls after their skin and hair were dyed yellow from the chemicals used to produce the weapons (Picture: Getty)

The work was dangerous, with hundreds of women dying in huge TNT explosions in Kent, Nottingham and London.



In Middlesbrough, Blyth Spartans Ladies FC won the first Munitionettes Cup in a womens competition held to boost morale.

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The establishment of the first Womens Institute in Singleton, Sussex, helped raise Britains food self-sufficiency by 25% by the end of the war, done through the farming of animals, grains and vegetables on British soil, which reduced the UKs reliance on food imports.

The map also reveals how 175,000 postal workers handled over two billion letters at a hub in Londons Regents Park, and sent 114 million parcels to soldiers at the front line.

South Wales was the centre of the coal mining industry and was home to the majority of the 232,000 men that hewed 57 million tonnes of coal a year – powering industry, railways and the navy.

Women packing steel helmets during World War 1, Easter 1916. Packing helmets to be shipped to Western Front. (Photo by Culture Club/Getty Images)

Women packing steel helmets (Picture: Getty)

Along the south coast, and in particular Brighton, 39,000 railway workers enabled the mobilisation of British forces and their equipment to France.

In 1914, nearly 1,300 Boy Scouts took on coast-watching duties in seaside towns such as Saltfleet, Lincolnshire in the absence of coast guards.

The Carlisle experiment in Cumbria saw the state take ownership of 343 pubs to control alcohol consumption during the war due to fears that excess drinking was negatively impacting the productivity of the workforce.

Over 100,000 homing pigeons were used to send important messages to the front line with the National Homing Union in Leeds threatening six months in prison for anyone caught shooting a pigeon.


More than 25,000 motorcycles were built in Bristol and sent to countries where the war raged on.