World War 1 propaganda message on the Exchange, coercing men to fight and women to help.
Nottingham City Council
Market Place - Exchange Walk
About this image
Showing a powerful propaganda message which is particularly poignant with hindsight, in that the community was sending its men off to the wholesale slaughter of the trenches. On the outbreak of war in August 1914, Britain had 247,432 regular troops. About 120,000 of these were in the British Expeditionary Army and the rest were stationed abroad. It was clear that more soldiers would be needed to defeat the German Army. On 7th August, 1914, Lord Kitchener, the war minister, immediately began a recruiting campaign by calling for men aged between 19 and 30 to join the British Army. At first this was very successful with an average of 33,000 men joining every day. Three weeks later Kitchener raised the recruiting age to 35 and by the middle of September over 500,000 men had volunteered their services. To help with recruitment David Lloyd George, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, was given the task of setting up a British War Propaganda Bureau (WPB). The desire to fight continued into 1915 and by the end of that year some two million men had volunteered their services. The British government also began a successful pamphlet and poster campaign. Women played an important role in persuading men to join the army. In August 1914, Admiral Charles Fitzgerald founded the Order of the White Feather. This organisation encouraged women to give out white feathers to young men who had not joined the army. The British Army began publishing posters urging men to become soldiers. Some of these posters were aimed at women. One poster said: 'Is your Best Boy wearing khaki? If not, don't you think he should be?' Another poster read: 'If you cannot persuade him to answer his country's call and protect you now, discharge him as unfit.' The Mothers' Union also published a poster. It urged its members to tell their sons: 'My boy, I don't want you to go, but if I were you I should go.' The poster added: 'On his return, hearts would beat high with thankfulness and pride.' The Active Service League urged women to sign the following pledge: 'At this hour of England's grave peril and desperate need I do hereby pledge myself most solemnly in the name of my King and Country to persuade every man I know to offer his services to the country, and I also pledge myself never to be seen in public with any man who, being in every way fit and free for service, has refused to respond to his country's call.'