The Great War and the Valleys

Merthyr Tydfil and the Cynon Valley



Discontent on the Home Front

Following the outbreak of war the government passed a controversial Act of parliament called the Defence of the Realm Act, known as DORA. This allowed the authorities to prosecute and fine or imprison people who said or did something prejudicial to the war effort. It was used against people who made speeches disagreeing with the war – particularly socialists and pacifists – and to fine or shut newspapers that criticised the war, thus raising the question about what sort of freedoms the British people were supposedly fighting for. But it was also used as a catch-all measure by the police and the courts to control and intimidate individuals. From 1916 compulsory military service also raised questions about civil liberties, as did industrial conflict during war time.