Please click on all the links as you read through this post – there are hundreds more World War 1 propaganda posters to look at.
When Britain went to war in 1914, it only had a small, professional army. There was no policy of national service in place as there was in countries like France and Germany. Before the introduction of Conscription in 1916, Britain had to rely on volunteers for it’s army, and that’s where recruitment posters came in. Britain produced scores of these – the first were intended to show the glory of war and appealed to those with an enthusiastic and adventurous spirit. Then came posters that urged men to do their ‘duty’, and then some that played on other emotions, like shame and guilt.
Posters like these proved initially successful but in the end, numbers required for active service in the British Army were such that conscription was introduced. Recruitment posters were still used for the duration of the war, despite the fact that men were now being ‘called up’ rather than being asked to volunteer. From 1917, American war posters also became popular.
Posters were used for other purposes too, including to encourage a thrifty way of living, and to recruit women to fill roles that men would have done before the war, as well as for nursing and house maid roles.
All postcards seen here are scanned from my personal postcard collection and were bought from the Imperial War Museum London, July 2014