When war came in August 1914, Lord Kitchener, the Secretary of State for War, realised that Britain needed a bigger army. He did this by creating a new volunteer army, which became known as 'Kitchener's Army'. He made a direct and personal appeal to the men of Britain. Posters were printed showing him pointing his finger at passersby with the words 'Your Country Needs You'. Men felt proud at the prospect of fighting for their country and queued outside recruitment offices all over Britain to join the army. In the first weekend of the war in 1914, 100 men an hour (3,000 a day) signed up to join the armed forces. 54 million posters were issued, 8 million personal letters were sent, 12,000 meetings were held, and 20,000 speeches were delivered by military spokesmen. By the end of 1914 1,186,337 men had enlisted. Soldiers had be at least 18 years old to join the army, and 19 before they could be sent abroad to fight, but lots of younger teenagers tried to 'join up' too. They wanted to be treated like men and thought war would be exciting. They lied about their age, hoping the recruitment officer would believe them.
Often they succeeded, and some boys as young as 13 or 14 went to war. Over one million volunteers were recruited by the end of 1914, but more were needed. Not everyone could enlist. Only men could go, and they had to be aged between 18 and 41 (the age limit was increased to 51 in April 1918). Priests and ministers were also exempt. Some failed the medical test and others had 'reserved occupations'. This meant they did important jobs like drive trains, work in the coal mines, shipyards and munitions factories or were farmers, and had to stay in Britain. This bookazine tells their story.
Publisher: Pen & Sword Books Ltd
Number of pages: 120
Dimensions: 297 x 210 mm