On-line version ISSN 2309-8392
Print version ISSN 0018-229X
THOMPSON, P.S.. Pietermaritzburg in the Great War: corporate patriotism and civic sacrifice. Historia [online]. 2014, vol.59, n.2, pp.171-193. ISSN 2309-8392.
The city of Pietermaritzburg was the capital of the South African province of Natal. The white polity was predominantly English in background and sentiment, and its response to the declaration of war was enthusiastically pro-British. This article is an account of the corporation's war effort and the civic sacrifices it entailed. The town council consistently supported the imperial cause, and the corporation encouraged staff to volunteer for military service, making generous allowances for them and their families. Patriotic organisations were established to promote volunteering, to raise funds for war relief, and to provide aid and comforts to the troops. Local women played an important role in fundraising and aid and comforts. By the end of the first year of the war, these activities were regularised and patriotic observances were ritualised. Patriotism did not falter, but by 1916 morale was strained by mounting casualties at the front and shortages and inflation at home. By 1918 war weariness could not be concealed and local authorities were searching for new ways to sustain popular morale. The response to the announcement of the armistice was enthusiastically British, but tinged with profound relief and gratitude.
Keywords : Great War; First World War; home front; Pietermaritzburg; British imperial patriotism; dominion patriotism; war relief; Governor General's Fund.