2.2 Recruiting the troops

Many men joined up to fight in the First World War in 1914 and 1915 without having to be forced. But once the initial enthusiasm for war had died down, the British Government had to ‘persuade’ people to join the British Army. The films on this page show various persuasive efforts from the British Government: recruitment posters, political cartoons, weapons demonstrations, and footage of captured German supplies

2 MINS 55 SECS, SILENT, B/W, 1914-1918

Key Section - Beginning to 01:05.

Recruitment propaganda posters are displayed for the cameras along with their French translations. This film was therefore probably produced for a French audience. 'Men: to delay is dangerous', 'Why aren't YOU in khaki?', 'If you are a friend, join the British ranks', and 'This space is reserved for a fit man' are just some of the posters on display.


12 MINS 45 SECS, SILENT, B/W, 1918

This animated film by Lancelot Speed shows Britain's effort against the enemy in the First World War. The cartoon was released in 1918, while the war was ongoing, with the sponsorship of the Ministry of Information, presumably with the expectation that it would prove to be effective propaganda.


0 MINS 20 SECS, SILENT, B/W, 1914-1918

The power of a tank is demonstrated to crowds in London by performing a stunt. The war machine is driven over a car, completely crushing it. The soldiers then pose with the tank for the newsreel camera.


1 MINS 2 SECS, SILENT, B/W, 1918

On the Thames Embankment at Temple Pier in July 1918, a German minelaying U-boat is displayed to the public. The submarine had been captured in the Thames during 1916 and proved popular with crowds, if this newsreel footage is typical. The designation of the U-boat is UC-5.


1 min 17 secs, Silent, B/W, 1914-1918

In Liverpool, Merseyside, British soldiers show off a captured German field gun. This is one of a number of films in the British Pathé archive which record the display of captured weapons. Guns, tanks, and Zeppelin wreckage evidently generated a great deal of interest.

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