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Feeding the population during 1917–18 was handled better in Britain than in other combatant nations. From January 1917 Britain’s 81% reliance on grain imports was jeopardised by unrestricted submarine warfare and the severe winter, making starvation imminent for 80% of the population. With soaring prices and dwindling supplies of staple foods including bread and potatoes, the population became alarmed. Government took control of farming, organising ploughing fallow land and pasture to grow crops urgently. Farmers were initially unable to help as many agricultural workers had left the land. A previously unrecognised sector with prior agricultural skills, the all-male police force, provided temporary substitutes for around 3 months in Spring 1917. Most worked locally and were well accepted by farmers. A police journal recorded around 600 from nineteen cities/towns/areas across Britain, some loaned throughout 1917/18 or released again for harvest. Initially they supplemented soldiers on furlough. 

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This session is a hybrid session and in-person tickets are limited.