Halifax was surprised by the outbreak of war in August 1914 but within days the public mood had turned into a staggering display of unified support.
Voluntary fund raising organizations sprang up and bore witness to an incredible self-help ethic that supported the troops at the front, their dependent families at home and the returning wounded.
People came to fear the Zeppelins, were forced to retrieve their children from German naval guns in Scarborough and read with horror the stories of local lads gassed at the front. Residents of German descent found themselves in difficult situations, and Belgian refugees were offered sanctuary.
Struggling local industry was revitalized by government orders for Khaki cloth, machine tools and munitions. Halifax can claim to have contributed many interesting technological items such as bomb release mechanisms, flame projectors and Tommy’s iconic bowl shaped steel helmet. Women were increasingly employed in traditional male occupations.
In 1917 the food crisis fermented tensions, but at the end of 1918 there was triumph – of a sort.