Although Army dogs were useful, as the number of war casualties rose it became apparent that the most advantageous weapon was a steady flow of soldiers. The year began with the ominous decision from the House of Commons to introduce compulsory military conscription. It was an emotive subject which led some cabinet ministers to resign, including the Home Secretary. Even underdogs were suddenly the focus of attention when wealthy families were asked to stop their "selfish, thoughtless extravagance," and sack their servants, thereby making them available to serve in the war.
Ireland was excluded from conscription, but suffered its own war during 1916. In April came the first glimpse of the Republican flag, it's green, white and orange symbolism flying over a Dublin post office which rebels had declared an "Irish Republic." The seven rebels involved were shot dead in May, and Irish nationalist Sir Roger Casement was also hanged for treason. "Then surely it is a braver, a saner and a truer thing to be a rebel than tamely to accept it as the natural lot of men," were said to be his last words - these would no doubt have struck a chord among men of other political persuasions during this time.
The unexpected longevity of the war paved the way for the downfall of Prime Minister Asquith in December, who was replaced by Lloyd George. Asquith had become a scapegoat, being sniped at continually for lack of foresight and indecisiveness. By the end of the year, the casualties from the battles at Verdun and the Somme numbered more than a million. The hit song, "Take me back to dear old Blighty", seemed nothing more than a lighthearted pop tune.Reuse content