Recruitment in the First World War

Recruitment in the First World War

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On the outbreak of war in August 1914, Britain had 247,432 regular troops. About 120,000 of these were in the British Expeditionary Army and the rest were stationed abroad. It was clear that more soldiers would be needed to defeat the German Army.

On 7th August, 1914, Lord Kitchener, the war minister, immediately began a recruiting campaign by calling for men aged between 19 and 30 to join the British Army. At first this was very successful with an average of 33,000 men joining every day. Three weeks later Kitchener raised the recruiting age to 35 and by the middle of September over 500,000 men had volunteered their services.

The leadership of the Women's Social & Political Union (WSPU) began negotiating with the British government. On the 10th August the government announced it was releasing all suffragettes from prison. In return, the WSPU agreed to end their militant activities and help the war effort. Annie Kenney reported that orders came from Christabel Pankhurst: "The Militants, when the prisoners are released, will fight for their country as they have fought for the Vote." Kenney later wrote: "Mrs. Pankhurst, who was in Paris with Christabel, returned and started a recruiting campaign among the men in the country. This autocratic move was not understood or appreciated by many of our members. They were quite prepared to receive instructions about the Vote, but they were not going to be told what they were to do in a world war."

Emmeline Pankhurst announced that all militants had to "fight for their country as they fought for the vote." Ethel Smyth pointed out in her autobiography, Female Pipings for Eden (1933): "Mrs Pankhurst declared that it was now a question of Votes for Women, but of having any country left to vote in. The Suffrage ship was put out of commission for the duration of the war, and the militants began to tackle the common task."

After receiving a £2,000 grant from the government, the WSPU organised a demonstration in London. Members carried banners with slogans such as "We Demand the Right to Serve", "For Men Must Fight and Women Must work" and "Let None Be Kaiser's Cat's Paws". At the meeting, attended by 30,000 people, Emmeline Pankhurst called on trade unions to let women work in those industries traditionally dominated by men.

At the beginning of the war the army had strict specifications about who could become soldiers. Men joining the army had to be at least 5ft 6in tall and a chest measurement of 35 inches. By May 1915 soldiers only had to be 5ft 3in and the age limit was raised to 40. In July the army agreed to the formation of 'Bantam' battalions, composed of men between 5ft and 5ft 3in in height.

With the outbreak of the war, Horatio Bottomley told his personal assistant, Henry J. Houston: "Houston, this war is my opportunity. Whatever I have been in the past, and whatever my faults, I am going to draw a line at August 4th, 1914, and start afresh. I shall play the game, cut all my old associates, and wipe out everything pre-1914" Houston later recalled: "At the time I thought he meant it, but but now I know that the flesh, habituated to luxury and self-indulgence, was too weak to give effect to the resolution. For a while he did try to shake off his old associates, but the claws of the past had him grappled in steel, and the effort did not last more than a few weeks."

In September 1914, the first recruiting meetings were held in London. The first meetings were addressed by government ministers. Bottomley told Houston: "These professional politicians don't understand the business. I am going to constitute myself the Unofficial Recruiting Agent to the British Empire. We must have a big meeting." His first meeting at the Albert Hall was so popular that according to Houston, Bottomley "was unable for two hours to get into his own meeting."

Bottomley wrote to Herbert Henry Asquith about the possibility of becoming Director of Recruiting. Asquith replied: "Thank you for your offer but I shall not avail myself of it at the moment. You are doing better work where you are." Asquith, aware of his popularity, encouraged him to do this work in an unofficial capacity. It has been claimed at the time that he was paid between £50 and £100 to address meetings where he encouraged young men to join the armed forces. Henry J. Houston claimed that he spoke at the Empire Theatre, Leicester Square, and delivered a ten minutes' speech each night for a week at a fee of £600. Later, Bottomley "secured a week's engagement, two houses nightly, at the Glasgow Pavilion, where he received a fee of £1,000."

In one speech Horatio Bottomley argued: "Every hero of the war who has fallen in the field of battle has performed an Act of Greatest Love, so penetrating and intense in its purifying character that I do not hesitate to express my opinion that any and every past sin is automatically wiped out from the record of his life." George Bernard Shaw went to one of Bottomley's meetings and afterwards commented: "It's exactly what I expected: the man gets his popularity by telling people with sufficient bombast just what they think themselves and therefore want to hear."

In 1914 David Lloyd George, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, was given the task of setting up a British War Propaganda Bureau (WPB). Lloyd George, appointed the successful writer and fellow Liberal MP, Charles Masterman as head of the organization. The WPB arranged for journalists like Bottomley to visit the Western Front. The WPB arranged for journalists like Bottomley to visit the Western Front.

It has been calculated that Horatio Bottomley addressed twenty recruiting meetings and 340 "patriotic war lectures". Although he had been highly critical of the government, at the meetings he always stated: "When the country is at war, it is the duty of every patriot to say: My country right or wrong; My government good or bad." He also falsely claimed that he was "not going to take money for sending men out to their death, or profit from his country in its hour of need." Bottomley claimed that he used the meetings to publicise John Bull Magazine and according to Houston, he drew over £22,000 from the journal for his efforts.

At one meeting a man in the audience shouted out: "Isn't it time you went and did your bit, Mr. Bottomley?" Bottomley replied: "Would to God it were my privilege to shoulder a rifle and take my place beside the brave boys in the trenches. But you have only to look at me to see that I am suffering from two complaints. My medical man calls them anno domini and embonpoint. The first means that I was born too soon and the second that my chest measurement has got into the wrong place."

To persuade young men to join the armed forces Horatio Bottomley gave the impression that the war would be over in a few weeks. In a speech at the Bournemouth Winter Gardens in September, 1915, he argued: "Ladies and gentlemen, I want you to pull yourselves together and keep your peckers up. I want to assure you that within six weeks of to-day we shall have the Huns on the run. We shall drive them out of France, out of Flanders, out of Belgium, across the Rhine, and back into their own territory. There we shall give them a taste of their own medicine. Bear in mind, I speak of that which I know. Tomorrow it will be officially denied, but take it from me that if Bottomley says so, it is so!"

Henry J. Houston argued in his book, The Real Horatio Bottomley (1923): "He began to accept what were practically music hall engagements disguised as recruiting meetings, and I was very definitely of the opinion that he was drifting in the wrong direction. Nevertheless for some time it went on... Bottomley insisted that a substantial contribution (from the income generated from the meetings) went to his War Charity Fund... Three years later I discovered that the fund did not receive a penny of the money."

During the first few months of the war the War Propaganda Bureau published pamphlets such as the Report on Alleged German Outrages, that gave credence to the idea that the German Army had systematically tortured Belgian civilians. Other pamphlets published by the WPB that helped with recruitment included To Arms! (Arthur Conan Doyle), The Barbarism in Berlin (G. K. Chesterton), The New Army (Rudyard Kipling) and Liberty, A Statement of the British Case (Arnold Bennett).

The British government also began a successful poster campaign. Artists such as Saville Lumley, Alfred Leete, Frank Brangwyn and Norman Lindsay, produced a series of posters urging men to join the British Army. The desire to fight continued into 1915 and by the end of that year some two million men had volunteered their services.

In October 1915, the WSPU changed its newspaper's name from The Suffragette to Britannia. Emmeline's patriotic view of the war was reflected in the paper's new slogan: "For King, For Country, for Freedom'. In the newspaper anti-war activists such as Ramsay MacDonald were attacked as being "more German than the Germans". Another article on the Union of Democratic Control and Norman Angell carried the headline: "Norman Angell: Is He Working for Germany?" Mary Macarthur and Margaret Bondfield were described as "Bolshevik women trade union leaders" and Arthur Henderson, who was in favour of a negotiated peace with Germany, was accused of being in the pay of the Central Powers.

That afternoon I decided to join the Liverpool Scottish. What sights I saw on my way up to Frazer Street: a queue of men over two miles long in the Haymarket; the recruiting office took over a week to pass in all those thousands. At the Liverpool Scottish HQ things seemed hopeless; in fact I was giving up hopes of ever getting in, when I saw Rennison, an officer of the battalion, and he invited me into the mess, getting me in front of hundreds of others. I counted myself in luck to secure the last kilt, which although very old and dirty, I carried away to tog myself in.

Although I seldom saw a newspaper, I knew about the assassination of Archduke Ferdinand at Sarajevo. News placards screamed out at every street corner, and military bands blared out their martial music in the main streets of Croydon. This was too much for me to resist, and as if drawn by a magnate, I knew I had to enlist straight away.

I presented myself to the recruiting sergeant at Mitcham Road Barracks, Croydon. There was a steady stream of men, mostly working types, queuing to enlist. The sergeant asked me my age, and when told, replied, "Clear off son. Come back tomorrow and see if you're nineteen, eh?" So I turned up again the next day and gave my age as nineteen. I attested in a batch of a dozen others and, holding up my right hand, swore to fight for King and Country. The sergeant winked as he gave me the King's shilling, plus one shilling and ninepence ration money for that day.

The Adjutant came in. He sorted out some papers on his table and called for the first applicant to come forward. "School?" inquired the adjutant. "Winchester,"replied the boy.

"Good," said the adjutant. There was no more to say. Winchester was one of the most renowned schools in England. He filled in a few details on a form and told the boy to report to the medical officer for routine examination. He was practically an officer. In a few days his appointment would come through...

My turn came.

"School?" inquired the adjutant. I told him, and his face fell. He took up a printed list from his desk and searched through it. "I'm sorry," he said, "but I'm afraid it isn't a public school."

And that was that. I was told to go to another room where a sergeant major was enlisting recruits for the ranks.

In a sense I had been looking forward to war, and for years; now it was coming. It was an entirely personal affair; no thought of what it might mean to home, or country, or civilisation.

I was a week over twenty-five, and in a thoroughly unsettled state anyhow. My family had decided that I should be an engineer; and, though I knew it was all wrong, I had no reasonable alternative to advance. Having begun the long apprenticeship, however unattractive and even distasteful the prospect, I was determined to see it through; and did. And then, having acquired the recognised qualifications theoretical and practical of an engineer, despite strong family discouragement, but because I was sure there was nothing for me in Glasgow, I had made for London. There, six months earlier, I had joined the great Pearson contracting firm, or rather had gotten a job from them. But the future was displeasing. That very week the discovery that my chief, the sub-agent, with fifteen years' service, was drawing only £250 per annum had numbered my days with Pearson's; new arrangements were well in hand. War. The problem for the time being was otherwise solved.

It is rather a shock to your mother and me to find that you are off to the Front; and we can only pray God to be with you every moment; to give you strength and comfort and confidence in every duty to be laid upon you; and to let the assurance of Christ's presence sustain you in every hour of danger. You are doing a great work in defending your country - the greatest honour that can come to men in this world, or one of them at least. Our country's glory and good name are committed to your care for the time; and the mere thought of that should inspire you with high resolve to do all you can do. And then the cause is a righteous one if ever there were a righteous cause. God is and must be on our side as we contend for honour and faithfulness among nations; and we shall be on His side if in our own hearts we repent of all our national sins and seek that this terrible business be overruled for our spiritual welfare as a people. Keep close to Christ, dear boy. Make sure that your heart is His; that whatever happens you are fighting under Him as captain; no ill can befall you then.

A battalion is being raised composed entirely of employees in Manchester offices and warehouses upon the ordinary conditions of enlistment in Lord Kitchener's army, namely, for three years, or the duration of the War.

The Battalion will be clothed and equipped (excepting arms) by a fund being raised for the purpose. We therefore desire to call the attention of all our employees between the ages of 19 and 35 years to the call of Lord Kitchener, which was emphasized by the Prime Minister in the House of Commons, for further recruits, and, in order to encourage enlistment, we are prepared to offer to all employees enlisting within the next two weeks the following conditions:

(1) four weeks' full wages from date of leaving.

(2) re-engagement on discharge from service guaranteed.

(3) half pay during absence on duty for married men from the date that full pay ceases, to be paid to the wife.

(4) Special arrangements made for single men who have relatives entirely dependent on them.

(5) The above payments only apply to those enlisting in the Ranks, and not to anyone who may obtain a commission otherwise than by promotion from the Ranks, but each case (if any) of those obtaining a commission, will be treated on its merits.

(6) The above offer is for voluntary service only, and should the Government decide on compulsory training later, the offer will not apply to those affected by such compulsion.

There is no sin in volunteering. God means us to stand up for everything that's right, and if every Christian is going to stand out of the firing line because he thinks it's not for him, then what is left? It's a great mistake to say Christians shouldn't carry a rifle. I should hate to kill anybody, but then those carrying rifles are not murderers, they equally are human and don't love killing others, they do it because it's their duty. Especially in this war, where our cause is right, we didn't make the war, the blame doesn't rest on us, Germany forced it and will undoubtedly be punished by God.

We had been brought up to believe that Britain was the best country in the world and we wanted to defend her. The history taught us at school showed that we were better than other people and now all the news was that Germany was the aggressors and we wanted to show the Germans what we could do.

I thought it would be the end of the world if I didn't pass (the medical). People were being failed for all sorts of reasons. When I came to have my chest measured (I was only sixteen and rather small) I took a deep breath and puffed out my chest as far as I could and the doctor said "You've just scraped through". It was marvellous being accepted.

When I went back home and told my mother she said I was a fool and she'd give me a good hiding; but I told her, "I'm a man now, you can't hit a man".

Now, dearest mum, keep your heart up, and trust in Providence: I am sure I shall come through all right. It is a great and glorious thing to be going to fight for England in her hour of desperate need and, remember, I am going to fight for you, to keep you safe.

These lectures were organized on a strictly business basis. The usual terms made with the proprietors of halls all over the United Kingdom stipulated for anything between 65 per cent. and 85 per cent. of the gross takings for admission, the proprietors providing the poster display, advertising, music, lighting and hall.

In addition to the "gate" receipts, H.B. received remuneration from the proprietors of John Bull on the following basis. One meeting per day, £25; two meetings per day, £17 Z10s. per meeting. Poster displays, amounting to many hundreds of pounds in cost, were also supplied by John Bull without charge.

It will thus be seen that the war provided H.B. with an excellent source of revenue. The expenditure of nervous and physical energy involved in the lecture tour was enormous. Every night when I got him away from a meeting to the hotel I had to strip him and give him a thorough towelling. He was invariably saturated right through to his morning coat with perspiration.

He needed a great deal of care as a result, and I found it necessary to travel special blankets for him. The first thing I used to do when we arrived at a hotel was to place the special blankets on his bed. That was done mainly at the request of Mrs. Bottomley, but it was a necessary precaution...

In September, 1915, we travelled down to Bournemouth to address our first two meetings, one in the afternoon and the other in the evening at the Winter Gardens controlled by Sir (then Mr.) Dan Godfrey...

Early next morning we motored on to Torquay, where he addressed two more meetings at a profit of £212, and caught the sleeping car back to London the same night.

"This opens up a new source of income, Houston," he said to me, as we discussed the lectures in the train." It has surprised even you, hasn't it? You must set to work in earnest now and get me booked up three days a week all over the country."

His energy was unbounded, and for days he was desperately restless because a short time had to elapse before all the arrangements could be completed.

"Why can't we get to work at once, Houston?" he exclaimed impatiently. "We are losing money and wasting time."

Before many days had passed I had fixed as many meetings as he could manage. We went on to Margate and other places, the receipts usually being about £100 a meeting. Then, on the first Sunday in October, we went to Blackpool, where he addressed two meetings and came away with about £300! On several occasions afterwards we revisited Blackpool, and he was always certain of making £300.

Gradually money became the ruling passion with H.B. in connection with the lectures. It was an obsession with him. If I arranged a big evening meeting for him in a large town, he would insist on My arranging an afternoon meeting on the same day at some neighbouring place, even if it was quite a small place, where he could not hope to make more than £40.

Ladies and gentlemen, I want you to pull yourselves together and keep your peckers up. Tomorrow it will be officially denied, but take it from me that if Bottomley says so, it is so!

Walter Tull: Britain's First Black Officer (Answer Commentary)

Football and the First World War (Answer Commentary)

Football on the Western Front (Answer Commentary)

12 British Recruitment Posters From World War One

British propaganda in the First World War is often heralded as being a major contributor to victory. In 1933, the Nazi propagandist Eugen Hadamovsky stated:

As perhaps the world’s first true ‘media war’, posters and newspaper adverts certainly played a role in sustaining morale, as well as encouraging young men to sign up.

Below are 12 different examples of recruitment posters used by the British to meet their wartime objectives.


For a century, British governmental policy and public opinion was against conscription for foreign wars. At the start of World War I, the British Army consisted of six divisions and one cavalry division in the United Kingdom, and four divisions overseas. 14 Territorial Force divisions also existed, and 300,000 in the Reserve Army. Lord Kitchener, the Secretary of State for War, considered the Territorial Army untrained and useless. He believed that the regular army must not be wasted in immediate battle, but instead used to help train a new army with 70 divisions—the size of the French and German armies—that he foresaw would be needed to fight a war lasting many years. Ώ]

Liverpool’s population in 1700 was about 6000 by 1800, it was nearly 80,000. By the beginning of the twentieth century, it was 684,958. This massive increase was begun by the agricultural revolution, through which the countryside was enabled to feed the towns and cities. And the increase was reinforced by the industrial revolution, which brought many people into the towns to seek work. Many people were drawn to Liverpool as a place of opportunity.

Liverpool was involved in almost every aspect of the trade and industry of the nation. For instance, memorable, because of the cultural benefits to the nation of the Tate fortune, was sugar refining. Tate was not joined by Lyle until 1921. Linked with this trade was sweet manufacture, Tavener Routledge, Williams and Barker and Dobson are all Liverpool firms. Brewing was another major industry in Liverpool, with Threlfalls and Walker’s Breweries among the best known. The founder of Walker’s Brewery gave a generous sum toward the funding of the magnificent Art Gallery that bears his name.

Tobacco was a huge Liverpool import it was to be an important factor in keeping up the morale of the troops and appeals were made to the public to contribute to ‘smokes’ for the troops.

In commerce too, Liverpool led the nation. Martins Bank began in 1593 in a tavern, at the Sign of the Grasshopper, which, along with the Liver Bird, became a part of its emblem. Martins Bank was subsumed by the present day Barclays Bank.

At the beginning of the Great War, Liverpool’s Bold Street, where the expensive ladies’ outfitters and dressmakers, Cripps, was situated, was still known as ‘the Bond Street of the North’. There were also many smaller but equally exclusive shops, such as furriers, tailors and milliners, in this exclusive shopping street.

There was also work in the construction industry, in rail and road transport, in shipbuilding, in manufacturing pharmaceuticals, in engineering and manufacture and in commerce at various levels, from office boys, to clerks, supervisors and managers. High levels of employment meant that money was in circulation with benefits to the local economy.

Women were able to find work in factories, offices, teaching, nursing, shops, dress-making and tailoring establishments, although many of these employed only single women. The largest employment for women in 1914 was still domestic service there were plenty of opportunities for cooks, kitchen-maids, housemaids and parlour-maids in the houses of the wealthy manufacturers and merchants. And even a clerk, of whom there were many all over the city, would strive to maintain a standard of living that included the employment of a maidservant, or, at the very least, a daily cleaner for the rough work such as scrubbing. Also ‘dailies’ were often married women or widows, who also undertook laundry work at home - ‘took in washing’ - in order to survive.

It was clear from the beginning of the Great War that one of the important features of Liverpool for the forth-coming conflict was its position as a deep-sea port with extensive docks facing the United States.

From this time onward, the port and its trade were constantly growing and, eventually, the shoreline had the greatest range of docks in the world, seven miles of which was served by the Overhead Railway.

So Liverpool, with its imposing architecture, including St. George’s Hall, the Walker Art Gallery and the William Brown Library and Museum was home to wealthy merchants and industrialists, a comfortable middle-class and an artisan class for whom there was plentiful employment. But alongside this pride and prosperity, there was also poverty. The Liverpool docks provided employment for many men, but the system of employing them was based on casual labour. This was later to make the prospect of enlisting in the army an attractive one.

To add to the existing splendour of the City, in 1907 the Mersey Docks and Harbour Board opened its impressive building, followed by the iconic Liver Building in 1911 and the building of the Cunard Building began in 1914. At the beginning of the Great War, the Three Graces, as they are now called, were already a focal point on Liverpool’s waterfront.

In 1914, Liverpool was the maritime heart of a great nation and Britain was a country whose power had increased worldwide for over a century. The British people were accustomed to their elevated status in the world and their belief in their right to govern and conquer was unshakeable.

The second largest mobilisation of men in Liverpool was for the Royal Navy. More than 12,000 Liverpool men signed up to fight the war at sea. As a consequence of these large numbers, there were men from Liverpool on every single battleship between 1914 and 1918.

Despite the maritime nature of the port city of Liverpool, its men were far from slow in enlisting in the Army. When Lord Derby appealed for volunteers, he was not disappointed. On Monday 31 August, recruitment began at St George's Hall in the centre of Liverpool. Queues of men rapidly formed and, by 10am, 1,000 men had signed up, enough to fill the battalion Lord Derby had promised Lord Kitchener, but many more men were still waiting. Within five days, the total had reached 3,000 and by October, there were enough from the city and its environs to form four Pals battalions in the King’s Liverpool Regiment. About 2,800 Liverpool Pals had been killed by the end of the war.

This led directly to the need for women to enter the workforce in large numbers primarily as land workers and in Liverpool, in factories, especially in the dangerous munitions factories, which were employing 950,000 women by the end of the war, sometimes called munitionettes, but also in Government departments, public transport, the post office, as police officers, as clerks in business and in child-care.

The war had brought about changes, both political and social. Some change was gradual in practice. For instance, although some women had got the right to vote in 1918, there were only eight women members of Parliament in 1923 and women over the age of twenty-one were not able to vote until 1928.

The need to increase industrial efficiency for the war effort meant that the working class had become more powerful and much better organised during the war so they were, by no means, powerless as they had been in the past. Most of those returning from the war were reintegrated successfully. Although in Germany discontented ex-service men were radicalised politically, in Britain ex-servicemen tended to group themselves around the forerunners of the local branches of the British Legion. Nevertheless, the general population, who had endured and suffered so much expected social change on a scale that had never been seen. These changes began with vast numbers of corporation houses built in Liverpool in the nineteen-twenties, were still seen in the birth of the Welfare State in July 1948 and are still being evidenced now in changes to status and expectations.

Nature and Scope - Propaganda and Recruitment

During the Great War, morale became a significant military factor and propaganda emerged as an instrument of control over public opinion and an essential weapon in the national arsenal. Covering an array of international perspectives with material from the US, Great Britain, Germany, France, Belgium and more, this digital collection provides an essential insight into propaganda and recruitment throughout this turbulent period.

Professor David Welch
University of Kent

Rich in primary source content from world-class libraries and archives, The First World War: Propaganda and Recruitment provides an essential insight into propaganda and recruitment throughout the Great War.

Propaganda, in its written and visual form, is an effective tool that employs multiple basic techniques: to exploit existing beliefs establish authority create fear use humour appeal to patriotism to be selective and create a &lsquoversion&rsquo of the truth to name but a few. The study of propaganda during the First World War becomes at once a study of the relationship between the government, the press and the public. The government&rsquos control over the mass media and the entire propaganda machine were deemed vital in demanding the national support needed for ultimate victory. Such victory was only attainable by sustaining allied soldiers and civilians, so recruitment propaganda, appealing to the patriotic hearts and minds of many, was crucial at the very outbreak of war.

The vast and varied range of material in this resource, from aerial leaflets and atrocity propaganda to international posters, postcards, cartoons and political pamphlets, showcases the methods exploited in wartime propaganda and their paths of dissemination. Themes of recruitment, training and morale are also examined through items such as tribunal case files, Kitchener's papers, recruitment listings, training manuals and minute books of both parliamentary and local recruiting committees.

The selection of primary sources covers important themes:

  • Recruitment and training
  • Morale at home and on the front line
  • Development of different forms of propaganda
  • Efforts to control public opinion through censorship
  • Potential impact of mutinies and revolution
  • Dissension

A fascinating array of document types include:

  • Posters
  • Postcards
  • Diaries
  • Cartoons
  • Photographs
  • Leaflets and pamphlets
  • Instructions for the distribution of propaganda
  • Military instructions
  • Extracts from local newspapers
  • Printed reports
  • Minute books
  • Papers of the Ministry of Information
  • Papers of the Kriegspresseamt
  • Newsletters
  • Tribunal case files

International Perspectives

The First World War: Propaganda and Recruitment features a wealth of foreign language material, providing an essential international dimension and promoting in-depth, comparative research. A keyword tool in the Search Directories section enables users to conduct searches across the site in several European languages, generating a wide variety of perspectives on an international scale.

Libraries and archives represented include:

Bibliothek für Zeitgeschichte in der Württembergische Landesbibliothek, Stuttgart

Aerial leaflets and propaganda posters are included from the Zeit der Weltkriege collection. The aerial propaganda is organised by the nation creating them and the recipient. The collection also features German and Allied propaganda postcards, pamphlets, brochures and rare printed items focusing on German material, 1914-1920.

Bristol Central Library

Britsol Central Library have kindly given permission for us to feature the minutes of the Bristol Citizens' Recruiting Committee, 1914-1920, to accompany an array of material sourced from Bristol Record Office.

Bristol Record Office

Fascinating document and visual material highlights the war effort at a local level, such as: cigarette cards albums postcards showing troops&rsquo billets and recruitment drives local recruitment posters photographs of local regiments, parades, training and troop departures.

The British Library

We include two volumes of the Parliamentary Recruiting Committee, 1914-1916. These minute books provide an insight into key decisions and processes.

Cambridge University Library

Material is drawn from the library&rsquos renowned War Reserve Collection which offers a truly international dimension, covering material from North and South America, the Far East, North Africa, the Middle East, Australasia and Scandinavia, as well as principal European protagonists. A vast array of propaganda material is featured, such as: Allied and German propaganda literature aimed at front-line troops, the home front, businessmen, wives and mothers, politicians and neutral nations (particularly the campaign by the Allies to persuade the United States to enter the war) periodicals and magazines, such as Bull and The Fatherland reports on French atrocities in Spain and the Belgian atrocities anti-imperialist tracts aimed at weakening Britain&rsquos Indian and African support and much more.

City of Westminster Archives

The City of Westminster Archives holds extensive collections relating to family, local, business and community history. Our selection features minutes of the Recruiting Committee of the Metropolitan Borough of St Marylebone, London 1915, accompanied by minutes of the Central Relief Committee and the Belgian Refugees Committee. Also included are other volumes relating to morale in the capital.

Coventry History Centre

The Coventry History Centre is part of the Herbert, Coventry&rsquos award winning museum, art gallery and educational charity. We feature the complete personal collection of fascinating and insightful diaries from the German mayor of Coventry during the war, Siegfried Bettman. The collection also includes photographs and newspaper clippings concerning the Coventry aircraft workers&rsquo strike.

Essex Record Office

The Essex Record Office provides invaluable resources on the history of the county. Material sourced includes correspondence and notes on recruiting kept by the Rev E. L. H. Reeve, Rector of Stondon Massey, 1914-1916 Home Office circulars and military notices minutes of parish meetings and Chelmsford Local Tribunal and other items relating to recruitment during the war.

Hoover Institution Library and Archives

Content has been digitised from a range of remarkable collections including: World War 1 Subject Collection (material on propaganda and recruitment, and a series of concert and theatre programmes kept by the German army) Mönkemöller Collection (strong German material, with photographs and documents on the Western Front and Eastern Front, ordinances printed in Berlin, 1916-1919 and items relating to Austria, Hungary, Poland, Russia, Belgium and the Middle East) World War 1 Pictorial Collection (German and Russian propaganda postcards and cartoons and caricatures from French and Belgian newspapers) Alfred Fried Papers (war diaries, anti-war propaganda, writings and subject file) Hoover Library pamphlets and rare books (recruitment, army manuals and mutinies) Le Bonnet rouge newspaper articles J.C. Reginald scrapbook featuring wonderful sketches and cartoons.

Landesarchiv of Baden-Württemburg (Hauptstaatsarchiv)

We have drawn four clusters of WW1 material from the Hauptstaatsarchiv&rsquos rich holdings on aspects of German history: files on Vaterländischer Hilfsdienst, Kriegspropaganda, Presseangelegenhetien, 1917-1918 documents from the Kriegspresseamt showing the German effort to control opinion and censor various publications, including analyses of newspapers, pamphlets, posters, cartoons and photographs efforts to prevent dissent and improve the morale of troops, such as patriotic instructions and reports of the Büro für Sozialpolitik film, cabaret and theatre entertainments for troops and additional material on welfare and morale.

Mills Memorial Library, McMaster University, Canada

Drawn from the library&rsquos wide-ranging First World War holdings, we include propaganda and parliamentary recruiting items from the World War 1 and Michel Brisebois collections, featuring aerial leaflets, postcards and bookmarks of various nationalities. This material provides an important Canadian dimension.

This renowned visual archive has permitted us to feature an array of fascinating material, offering a sound insight into British media coverage during the war. We feature: front pages of the Daily Mirror newspaper, 1914-1918 images of the outbreak of war key news stories (German actions in Belgium and France, air raids, sinking of the Lusitania, execution of Edith Cavell, Easter Rising, women at war, armistice) photographs providing a record of different war fronts and armies Big Willy and Little Willy cartoons, famous throughout the war.

The National Archives

We have sourced a wide range of government material from The National Archives, with an emphasis on British recruitment and training, from volunteers and Pals Battalions through to the Derby Scheme, conscription and Military Service Act of March 1916. There is are also an extensive number of documents on propaganda and the control of public opinion. A few document highlights include: Kitchener Papers on Manpower, Morale and Recruitment papers of the Official Press Bureau, 1915-1918 volumes on the effects of British and German propaganda in the US, 1914-1918 dissemination of enemy propaganda in the UK, 1914-1918 making of the propaganda film &lsquoBritain Prepared&rsquo by the Royal Navy aerial propaganda training at Royal Flying Corps home units, 1915 papers of the Council for Civil Liberties campaign against conscription, 1916-1918 and much more.

Northamptonshire Record Office

Holding over 800 years of Northamptonshire&rsquos rich archival heritage, we have drawn over 350 conscription and military tribunal case files, 1916-1918, from their collection. The tribunals were established under the Military Service Act of 1916 and tribunal papers were destroyed across much of Britain, following a Ministry of Health decision in 1921. The collections for Northamptonshire, amongst several others, are significant survivals. The selected case files illustrate the different reasons for appeal and the different outcomes. Northamptonshire provides an interesting case study due its boot trade, with some 30 firms working on army supplied of boots and other footwear.

The Robert Opie Collection

The Museum of Brands, Packaging and Advertising, located in London, houses Robert Opie&rsquos extraordinary collection relating to British lifestyle and culture. Fascinating items such as posters, games, objects, specialist publications, souvenirs and ephemera have been selected, with an emphasis on propaganda, morale, war bonds, the British home front and recruitment, charity causes and the anti-waste campaign. The materials help to show how the war was presented to the British public.

Soldiers of Gloucestershire Museum

Drawn from a wealth of material on Gloucestershire&rsquos regiments, the Soldiers of Gloucestershire Museum have kindly given us permission to feature photographs depicting the training and departure of troops, in addition to a Farewell Concert Programme for the 12 th Battalion and a book entitled &lsquoHints to Non-Commissioned Officers and Men of the Gloucestershire Regiment&rsquo.

* Please note: If you have purchased Module 2 only, you will not have access to Module 1 and Module 3 documents and primary source links within the secondary contextual material.

The Decline of the Pals

Integration into the army saw the Pals start to lose their local flavour. Officers were brought in from elsewhere in the army establishment. Men unfit for duty were sent home. Some men deserted or died of accident or illness before they reached the front, and their places were filled not by local lads but by recruits brought in by conventional means.

Still, these units retained their community atmosphere until war took its toll. It was in the nature of the First World War that losses from particular battalions were often huge. Entire units could be almost wiped out by a successful artillery barrage or an unsuccessful assault across no man’s land.

British casualties at the Somme.

Whether losses came gradually or in sudden, dramatic moments, they whittled away at the groups that had volunteered together. Replacements were not recruited in the same way as the original battalions but came from all over the country. Once conscription took over as the main source of recruits, replacements were no longer even volunteers. The comradely local spirit of the Pals was lost.

Historica Canada Education Portal

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The students will be presented this assignment as one option in their First World War research project. This assignment is designed to appeal to the students in the class who are visually minded. They will research primary documents that are, for the most part, in picture form. They will use text only to reinforce the information they get from the pictures and to review material already covered. At this point, students should have a basic understanding of Canada’s role in the First World War along with some of the issues and accomplishments of the military in Canada during the First World War. Other students will be researching other details from the First World War (such as a battle, the music, woman’s role) for presentation to the class.


1. Students to learn more about the First World War and Canada’s recruitment strategy.

2. Students build skills in undertaking primary research.

3. Students given the opportunity to express their research in a visual format and practice their presentation skills.


It is 1916. Canada’s Armed forces are in desperate need of more men and women. Prime Minister Borden is trying to avoid conscription and has ordered an intense recruitment campaign. As part of this campaign, you have been hired by the Canadian Armed Forces to develop an advertising poster to be launched. Your recruitment ads will be printed on full coloured posters and posted in every town across Canada, both small and large.

Extension: Specific communities can be chosen as the target for the recruitment posters.


a. Research Primary and Secondary documents, such as other recruitment posters from the First World War. Identify the major themes and symbols used in the posters. Look for details you could use in your poster. For example: uniform style, types of planes, medals, background.

b. Establish an audience: who are you trying to recruit with the poster? Young men or women? For what section of the armed forces are you recruiting? Identify this focus of your cover sheet.

d. Your poster should include a theme and symbols appropriate to Canada in 1916.


a. Primary resources: recruitment posters from WWI and photographs taken during WWI

b. Secondary resources: history textbook

Supporting documents for this Learning Tool

Supporting documents for this Learning Tool


    G. Sheffield, Leadership in the Trenches: Officer-Man Relations, Morale and Discipline in the British Army in the Era of the First World War (Basingstoke, 2000), p. 64. Back to (1) L. Stryker, 'Mental cases: British shellshock – politics of interpretation' in Back to (2) G. Braybon, 'Winners or losers: women's symbolic role in the war story' in Back to (3) D. Cohen, The War Come Home: Disabled Veterans in Britain and Germany, 1914–1939 (Berkeley, Calif., 2001). Back to (4)

Home Front

Even more alarming to the authorities, especially those in the West Indies, was the fact that between 1916 and 1919 a number of colonies including St Lucia, Grenada, Barbados, Antigua, Trinidad, Jamaica and British Guiana experienced a series of strikes in which people were shot and killed. It was into this turmoil that the disgruntled seamen and ex-servicemen were about to return and many people in the region were hoping or anticipating - and, in the case of the authorities, fearing - that their arrival would bring the conflict to head.

West Indian participation in the war was a significant event in the still ongoing process of identity formation in the post-emancipation era of West Indian history.

When the disgruntled BWIR soldiers began arriving back in the West Indies they quickly joined a wave of worker protests resulting from a severe economic crisis produced by the war, and the influence of black nationalist ideology espoused by black nationalist leader Marcus Garvey and others. Disenchanted soldiers and angry workers unleashed a series of protest actions and riots in a number of territories including Jamaica, Grenada and especially in British Honduras.

West Indian participation in the war was a significant event in the still ongoing process of identity formation in the post-emancipation era of West Indian history. The war stimulated profound socio-economic, political and psychological change and greatly facilitated protest against the oppressive conditions in the colonies, and against colonial rule by giving a fillip to the adoption of the nationalist ideologies of Marcus Garvey and others, throughout the region. The war also laid the foundation for the nationalist upheavals of the 1930s in which World War One veterans were to play a significant role.

Mothers in World War I

When people think of World War I, they often think of soldiers fighting in trenches. But soldiers weren't the only ones doing the work of war. In honor of Mother's Day and the centenary of the Great War, we examine some of the roles mothers played in World War I.

Mothers were used in recruitment

This British World War I recruitment poster shows a mother encouraging her son to enlist as a soldier and fight in the war. Wartime propaganda artists recognized the power of mothers in recruiting soldiers. They used mother figures to remind men of their duty to their country and family, and to assure them of how proud their mothers (and wives) would be when they became soldiers.

Mothers raised funds for the war effort

Mothers who remained at home while their sons and daughters served overseas, had much to do to keep the household running, to fill in for soldiers in the workplace and support war production, and to help raise funds for the war effort. One mother, Hosteen Nez Basa, a Navajo woman from New Mexico, donated this blanket to the Red Cross for a fundraising raffle. According to the donor, Ms. Basa originally made this blanket for her son, a soldier serving in Europe during the war. Convinced that her son would die serving, Ms. Basa made this blanket to be used for his burial. When her son returned from the war front alive, she donated the blanket to benefit the local Red Cross, raising close to $1,500 in war relief. It is now in the museum's Division of Armed Forces History.

"Mothers" as nurses

According to this Red Cross poster, the nurses of World War I acted as great "mothers" to all of the soldiers fighting in the war. Scholars have noted that the nurse's pose mimics that of another famous mother, the Virgin Mary cradling the body of Jesus in the Pieta. The strength, grace, and purity evoked by Mary were all traits held by the ideal World War I nurse. An American text from 1917 on surgical war nursing listed these "motherly" personal qualifications of a nurse: "patience, kindness of heart and manner, a power of unremitting attention and that indescribable quality called tact."

Mothers as memory keepers

The devastating loss of life in World War I meant that many mothers were left with the heartbreaking task of mourning and memorializing their dead. One way of memorializing those killed in action was the Gold Star. Families hanging a Man-in-Service flag in their window would cover the blue star with gold fabric, symbolizing their loss. Women were encouraged to forgo traditional mourning garb in favor of a simpler black armband with a gold star. Woodrow Wilson referred to these women as gold star mothers. After the war, in 1928, the organization American Gold Star Mothers was founded. To this day, mothers who have lost a child in military service wear a gold star pin to honor the deceased.

Patri O'Gan is a project assistant in the Division of Armed Forces History. Mallory Warner is curatorial assistant in the Division of Medicine and Science.

Watch the video: Προφητεία για όσα θα περάσουν οι Έλληνες στον 3ο Παγκόσμιο πόλεμο


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