Selected by Barbara Ball, Metadata Assistant

Lord Kitchener was appointed Secretary of State for War at the outbreak of the First World War.  He began a recruitment campaign for ‘volunteer’ regular troops. At that particular time mass conscription was somewhat frowned upon. The regular British Army recruitment campaign consisted of propaganda posters and various other forms of communication, which began in earnest in 1914.

At first recruitment was very successful: over 30,000 signed up to join the forces every day. At the outbreak of the War in 1914, the United Kingdom had 250,000 serving soldiers available, compared to Germany’s wartime army which numbered nearly two million personnel.

Among those volunteers were countless young men and boys under the age of 19 (the legal age for armed service overseas). These young men came to fight and die for their country – which seemed to turn a ‘blind eye’ to their age. The war was ‘sold’ to the general public with the idea that it would be all over by Christmas: it seems if a young man was fit and wished to serve his country then he would not be stopped.

I have chosen four recruitment posters used during the Great War to encourage volunteers to join the British Army to fight for their country. I found it particularly poignant that it is obvious the Government at the time did overtly or subliminally appeal to the patriotism of very young men and boys and as a consequence many thousands of under 19 year olds served and died in the battles of the Great War.

Ref: World War One posters

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