©National Archives

Recruitment poster, 1914 There are few English towns or villages without a war memorial to the dead of the two world wars of the twentieth century, dominated by the fallen of the Great War of 1914-18. The war led to mobilisation on a national scale in which it has been estimated 5 million men and women served, half of whom were volunteers. The tax burden spiralled and ultimately conscription had to be introduced in 1916. Many, including the futuristic author, H.G.Wells, were initially enthusiastic. Wells announced that "this, the greatest of all wars, is not just another war - it is the last war". This recruiting poster comes from the papers of Lord Kitchener, Secretary of State for War, whose recruiting campaign of 1914 aimed to raise 100,000 volunteers within six months. Half a million came forward in the first month alone, with a further 100,000 a month thereafter.

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