Chapter VI
THE MINISTRY OF MUNITIONS AND BEFORE

One sees no reason why all the nations having started war with no reason (except mutual fear) should ever stop war till one side has nothing to fear from the other.

Letter to my mother, August 3, 1914.

I SAW nothing of the fighting side of World War I till it was over and I made a short tour of battlefields. But I was in at the beginning of each of two major developments marking the change from the military wars of the past to the total wars of today. One of these developments was organisation and control by Government of our productive resources, begun by the Ministry of Munitions. The other development was organisation and control by Government of our food supplies and their use, undertaken by the Ministry of Food. I was one of the three or four officials first active in the Ministry of Munitions, and I was the first in the Board of Trade department which led to the Ministry of Food. But neither of these developments came early in the war. The Treasury Committee on Munitions which led to the Ministry of Munitions at the end of May 1915 was established only in March, in the eighth month of war. The first Board of Trade Orders controlling food came late in November 1916; the Ministry of Food was established in the following month after nearly two and a half years of war.

To those who have lived through World War II it is hard to realise, even if they experienced also World War I, how partial for most of its length that earlier war remained. There was no conscription even for military service till January 1916. There was no Schedule of Reserved Occupations. There was never formal direction of labour. There were for most of the war two fighting services only -- no Air Ministry till the end of 1917, no Royal Air Force till April 1918; the war started with the Royal Flying Corps dating from 1912 under the War Office and a Fleet Air Arm being developed independently by the Admiralty into the Royal Naval Air Service.1 There was no rationing even of meat and fats till the last year of the war; there was never rationing of bread. The accepted slogan for the early years was "Business as usual." Yet it was in this war

____________________
1
The creation of the Air Ministry is described in chapter lvii of the War Memoirs of David Llyod George.

-117-

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