Home Front

Home Front

Queen Mary's Needlework Guild. Shetland Museum.
Shetland played to its strengths with gifts of hosiery and needlework.

The dominant image of the Home Front is of a place where people waited. But the homefront was highly active in its own way.

Some parts of Britain saw new industries and technologies develop in the wake of the war. In Shetland, the presence of military efforts such as the Tenth Cruiser Squadron helped local business  – a bakery was founded in Voe, for instance.  In general, however, the traditional industries of agriculture, fishing and knitwear remained. They had to cope with the economic movements of the war, and the new situation in Europe after it.

Prices did increase, but there were other difficulties. Shetland wool, unsuitable for military use, rose in value, but some felt that the prices of the finished articles didn’t keep pace. The fishing industry had multiple problems. Productive manpower was engaged by the Royal Navy. 1916 was felt to be a good season. Unsurprisingly there were difficulties with mines, submarines, and disrupted shipping south.

There were some notable efforts at voluntary action in Shetland. Sphagnum moss for wound dressing was gathered with enthusiasm. There were donations of eggs, and cigarettes to the troops, along with letter writing. Shetland played to its strengths with gifts of hosiery and needlework.