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Propaganda, Recruitment And Resistance During World War I

2629 words - 11 pages

Propaganda, Recruitment and Resistance During World War I

When war broke out, the British army was professional but small. The
government desperately needed a lot more troops, and they turned their
heads straight to recruitment. Britain was very different to its
allies in recruitment; they started the war recruiting volunteers. The
Government believed that as tradition, they should not force any men
into conflict; they had never done, and believed they never would.
Volunteering was a British thing to do; using posters, and leaflets,
they thought would get enough soldiers to volunteer.

The Government assumed that many soldiers would come forward as
...view middle of the document...

Those men who were watching the play
felt embarrassed, also as if everyone was watching them and urging
them to sign up. The Government encouraged this in homes, and although
it was an illegitimate way of getting men to join, it was very useful,
and many of those who were put under such pressure, crumbled and
enlisted.

The figures of unemployed men in Britain were rising, and the amount
of jobs for these men was decreasing, as they didn’t have the
necessary skills to acquire a job that paid good money. Prime Minister
Asquith seized upon this opportunity to give these unemployed a
‘future’ in the army. The unemployed had to accept the opportunity, as
it paid good money, it was an exciting experience and that they simply
they had no where else to go. The men were happy to receive this break
away from their dirty, shabby lifestyle. Asquith, and Kitchener
exaggerated this prospect, and the unemployed believed that this was
easy money, and a gateway to a new life.

Men who volunteered into the army where grouped in accordance of what
area they came from. Theoretically this was a good idea, but in
practice demonstrated a fatal blunder. ‘Pals Battalions’ as these
neighbouring units were named, were awfully effective in making each
soldier feel at home, and able to settle in to army life. At the front
though it was a different story, as each Pals Battalion went ‘over the
top’ it was usually on the first day of a major battle, which resulted
in 70% or more of their men killed or seriously wounded. Local areas
in England wit a small population lost many of its younger men in a
short space of time.

The rest of the male population who did not volunteer chose not to for
various reasons. Some men decided not to enlist on occupational
grounds. Men who worked in vital industries such as mining felt it was
there duty to stay home and continue their essential job. However,
this was not the only reason on work-related grounds that people did
not volunteer. Some men did not want to fight because they had a well
paid job and good career prospects, whilst others left the rest of the
population to volunteer because they thought that the war would not
last long. They assumed that if they joined the army they would die,
they were scared of dying and losing everything that they had worked
for. This fear of dying was made a great deal worse when rumours of
the conditions on the front line filtered through to the public. They
were told of the huge numbers of deaths and casualties that the
British were taking. Other chose not to volunteer on the moral or
religious grounds. The Quakers did not volunteer because they did not
believe the war was the answer. Many other men refused to ‘play God’,
ad take away another mans life. Some men refused to volunteer because
they had people at home depending on...

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