2.1 Joining up

The call for volunteers to join up was initially met with huge enthusiasm. It was hoped that 100,000 men would answer the call, but by the end of 1915, nearly 2.5 million men had volunteered. By April 1918, an extra 2.5 million soldiers had joined through conscription. The films on this page reveal stories of ordinary men as they joined the war effort.

5 mins 11 secs, Sound, Colour, 1974

At Chelsea Royal Hospital in London, Chelsea Pensioners are interviewed about their experiences during the First World War and their reasons for joining the army. The veterans also discuss why they came to the Royal Hospital.



13 MINS 09 SECS, SILENT, B/W, 1914-1918

This film covers British Army recruitment and training during the First World War. The first part is seemingly staged, with a recruitment officer encouraging a man to accompany him to the recruiting office. We then see new recruits doing exercises and drills, training on horseback, fencing, and practicing with artillery.


1 MINS 24 SECS, SILENT, B/W, 1914-1918

Key Section - 08:46 to end.

This film's full title, according to British Pathé records, is The great change - the rapid transformation of the arm less man to a fully equipped soldier at headquarters of 1st London Regiment H.Q.

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