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War Comes To The Fields: Sacrifice, Localism And Ploughing Up The English Countryside In 1917

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Chapter Summary

In 1917 the British home front faced a test of endurance and its most obvious expression throughout the year was the ?food question?. The strategic importance of food production in 1917 was accompanied by the clamour of exhortation, for example, ?making effort and sacrifices commensurate with the interests at stake'. War had come to the fields. Throughout the spring months Board of Agriculture reports described unsatisfactory sowing conditions in Britain, especially in the west where re-sowing was necessary. It was the relationship between exemplary activity and regulation in the broader context of voluntarism and compulsion in food production which is the focus of this chapter, with particular emphasis on managing agricultural labour. Memories of diminishing food supplies in the countryside in 1917 have remained an enduring part of rural folklore deep into the twentieth century.

Keywords: English countryside; food production; localism; ploughing

10.1163/ej.9789004171398.i-182.42
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