David Lloyd George, wartime minister and Prime Minister

By Judith Phillips

David Lloyd George (1863-1945) as a wartime minister and Prime Minister was the focus of a recent TV programme (Tuesday 10th January on BBC4 at 9.00 p.m.).   If you didn’t see it, you should still be able to find it on BBCiplayer.

The presenter Dan Snow is descended from Lloyd George’s daughter, so he had a particular interest in the Lloyd George story.  The ‘shell crisis’ of 1915 led to Lloyd George being appointed Minister for Munitions and he galvanised industrial businesses into converting their factories to war-work, particularly for producing shells.  This was clearly in the mind of Francis Carruthers Gould when he designed a Toby jug representing Lloyd George, one in a series of eleven jugs depicting military and political celebrities of the war.  Gould was a caricaturist and political cartoonist, and you can see this in the jugs.  Lloyd George, for example, is shown holding a shell marked ‘shell Out’.  All eleven jugs are in a small display near the Cafe in the Museum.

The programme included quite a lot of film footage, showing Lloyd George during the First World War.  I thought it was very interesting to see how he and the military commanders reacted together, as Dan Snow pointed out he and the military were frequently at odds. 

Lloyd George was, and still is, a controversial figure both for his politics and for his private life, and no doubt there will be more programmes about him over the course of the next couple of years, looking at his wartime activities and the influence he brought to bear on the peace negotiations that led to the Treaty of Versailles in 1919.