London Poster Art played a major part in the largest voluntary recruitment for war in British history between 1914 and 1916.
The voluntary enlistment campaign was the brain-child of Lord Kitchener- a veteran hero of the colonial wars fought in the Sudan and South Africa.
The posters were usually commissioned by the London Parliamentary Recruiting Committee- an example of the way Great Britain blended background state direction with ‘voluntary’ initiatives from the private sector in the propaganda war.
The PRC was constituted 31st August 1914 and coordinated for the War Office a national network of local party political organisations backing the war with patriotic and imperial zeal.
Kitchener was one of the first military and political figures to realize that the First World War was likely to last several years and there was a need to build new armies.
The poster art used advertising slogans and marketing devices to appeal to the emotions and pride of men in London and elsewhere.
There were even subtle and explicit messages to people in the legal profession and participants in the popular middle class sport of rugby football union.
The posters were sometimes also journalistic in their messages such as this one for New Year’s Eve 1915.
478,893 men joined the army between 4 August and 12 September 1914.
The propaganda campaign of persuasion succeeded in the voluntary recruitment of 2,466,719 into the British army between August 1914 and December 1915.
But that was to prove insufficient manpower for the modernist, industrial, long term and costly genre of total war.
The first Military Service Act brought in conscription for single men of military age from the end of January 1916 which was extended to married men by further legislation in May of that year.
This gallery presents posters that would have been familiar on the eye to anyone travelling about London in First World War Britain. All these images are from the Library of Congress collection.
A long long way to Tipperary released as a 78 rpm phonograph record by Regal in October 1914. This version of the song by Judge and Williams was performed with vocal chorus by the King’s Military Band. ‘It a Long. Long Way to Tipperary’. Regal G 6802/2931. Made in England. 1914.
Categories: The Great War and London