From the beginning of the war British policy-makers had a clear appreciation that they were fighting to ensure a greater measure of security for Britain and its empire in the post-war world. They were determined not only to win the war but also to win the peace, and to achieve both objectives at minimum cost to Britain. By 1916 the British were steadily sacrificing their long-term economic well-being to the immediate need to defeat the Central Powers. The effort and the price were indeed prodigious. On land Britain and its empire deployed 8,985,735 men on all fronts during the war, including 5,399,563 men who served on the western front. By the armistice, the BEF represented about a third of the total allied force in France and Belgium. The financial, economic, and human cost of this effort was equally immense. By 1920 the National Debt stood at £7,685 million, a twelvefold increase since 1914. These figures raise two questions: why did the Lloyd George government persist with the war despite its growing human, economic, and financial cost, and were Britain's sacrifices worthwhile?
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