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.
1. Women of Britain Say Go
2. Your Country Needs You
3. Remember Scarborough – Enlist Now!
On 16 December 1914, the German navy attacked Scarborough, Hartlepool and Whitby, resulting in 137 fatalities and 592 casualties, many of whom were civilians. This poster channels the subsequent public outrage.
4. It is better to face the bullets than to be killed at home by a bomb
6. The Scrap Of Paper – Prussia’s Perfidy-Britain’s Bond
Britain was a signatory to the Treaty of London (1839) which guaranteed Belgium’s sovereignty. Germany ‘trampled on the Treaty’ by invading Belgium and, judging from this poster, elicited a moral response from British politicians and public.
7. Your King and Country Need You
By December 1915, over two million men had joined up. Some historians argue that the central factor in high enlistment figures was that prospects in the army ‘compare favourably to those in civilian life.’
8. For King and Country
World War I recruitment poster. “Surely you will fight for your [portrait of King George V] and [map of Great Britain]. Come along, boys, before it is too late.” Credit: United States Library of Congress / Public Domain.
For King and Country
10. Scarborough Raid Poster
11. Britain Needs You at Once
12. Attest Now!
Conscription was introduced in the Military Service Act (1916) stating that single men aged 18 to 45 years old were liable to be called up for military service unless they were widowed with children or ministers of a religion. This poster called for people to avoid compulsory enlistment and join voluntarily.