British War Propaganda During World War I

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Propaganda is used worldwide by many of the world leaders to aid in the persuasion of their loyal citizens into doing what they would like. The term propaganda is defined by “information, especially of a biased or misleading nature, used to promote a political cause or point of view”. The word itself shows how much power propaganda holds over peoples’ minds, opinions, and thoughts. Many leaders use propaganda as a way to gain soldiers in battle because the majority presume that the number of soldiers is the main influencer in the act of war. Propaganda has changed over the flow of time, as the world has developed hence propaganda developed with it. In this research paper, I will be focusing on the propaganda used in World War I by Britain to persuade the citizens.

In Britain, they had several agencies working on promoting propaganda at the beginning of the war, to help encourage British men to join, volunteer, and fight in the war by risking their own lives to do so. The first posters mostly relied on text to convey their messages, which then further developed into sophisticated art pieces to convey pro-war messages. Many of the posters created were promoting nationalism, that evokes a sense of sympathy for the British men as they feel the need to serve their country. For example, this poster “Lord Kitchener recruitment poster” on the right shows Lord Kitchener’s face and intimidating finger pointed straight at you makeing the person feel he is talking to them personally. Under the finger is a quote saying “Your Country Needs You” in bold blocking letters and font, emphasizing on the fact that your own country is calling for help, releasing the patriotism in the men’s hearts towards their country, persuading them to serve. This poster is very impactful and played a key role in recruiting men to join the war, as Britain heavily relied on propaganda and recruitment posters to recruit their soldiers as they sought that to be the most impactful method to do so. As well, the recruitment posters were made to help justify Britain participating in the war to the population of Britain, and to declare that their sacrifices will not go to waste and will be rewarded.

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Another poster produced by the British, was the poster illustrating a man sitting on a chair with two children by his side, asking their father about his achievements in the war by asking “Daddy what did YOU do in the great war?”. By proposing this question, it questions a mans masculinity, which all men hate, therefore the men are forced to feel that they need to do something in this war to bring back a story to tell to his children. Also, by using children who are the essence of innocence to try and shame the elder, allows a man to get to an emotional state and has an emotional drive to be recruited in the war. The fact that the young boy in this poster is playing with toy soldiers, illustrates that he aspires to be like his father who went and fought in a war. “The Great War”, 1915, (The British Library)

Many straightforward posters were produced by the British including “The Coldstream Guards”, which painted a blushing perspective of armed force life. The Coldstream Guards, wearing different march and parade outfits, remain between shrub leaf decked sections showing their battle honors. The message being portrayed in this [image: ainting by unknown artist.]poster is clear; sign up to look brilliant, be courageous and be a piece of a celebrated tradition. The reality would have been somewhat extraordinary with newcomers fortunate to get ill-fitting battledress, significantly less, dress uniforms. On the other hand, young fellows were commonly quick to enroll, some since they were patriotic and considered it to be their obligation to serve their country and others since it truly offered them a superior life. The slums of Britain's significant urban areas were brimming with under-fed citizens and it was accounted for that recruits regularly put on weight and enhanced their health and wellbeing once in the military. Unfortunately, many had valuable brief time to make the most of their recently discovered health, as many soldiers were killed during the war.“The Coldstream Guards” 1914, (Public Domain)

Not all recruitment posters targeted men, because in the end, gender doesn’t matter, a recruit is a recruit and they will help in the war. The British started producing posters for women. Regularly they were intended to interest a specific group, for example athletes, government workers or mineworkers. Occasionally, they weren't intended to target men at all, on the contrary their target audience was women. As the war advanced ladies were required not simply to act in their customary jobs as nurses, however they were required to venture into jobs recently held only by men. In civilian life they were expected to work in industrial facilities such as factories. The armed forces additionally begun opening up to women. Although, women did not serve in dynamic jobs, but rather they were acknowledged in assistant positions. Howard Chandler Christy's recruitment poster of a youthful Navy [image: S Navy Recruitment Poster 1917]Yeoman portrays her looking assertive and contemporary. She looks out from the poster and welcomes other young ladies to join her, evidently having written her message to them in red lipstick. On the off chance that anybody takes her up on her offer, not only will they get a brilliant uniform, however they will acquire a promotion as well. Yeoman in the Navy could assume to commence religious work, freeing up men to take up posts abroad.US Navy Recruitment Poster, 1917, (Public Domain)

Allied governments attempted to justify the war by focusing on the need to protect freedom and decency from the forceful movements of the foe. The carnages committed by the Germans was a prominent theme. Early on in the war there was outrage over supposed crimes against women and children in Belgium. The sinking of RMS Lusitania, on the way from the UK to the USA, in 1915 by a German U-Boat with the casualties ranking up to 1,000 casualties, gave a lot to work with to the poster artists to indicate why a war against Germany was justified. Their endeavors were not futile as public opinion was revolted by the utilization of military activity against a civilian target, in spite of the fact that Woodrow Wilson held back before joining the war. In this poster created by the British is a reminder to all British men that our enemies have attacked us and we need to take revenge. This is another direction to take propaganda, using it to ignite a flame of revenge and courage into the soldiers’ hearts. Thus, the bombing of Scarborough in the north of England by the German Navy, with the loss of numerous women and children, highlighted in British recruitment poster, yet equally served to remind individuals why Britain needed to battle back.“Remember Scarborugh”, 1915, (Public Domain)

In conclusion the British government, through the Parliamentary Recruitment Committee begin producing recruitment posters to swell the positions of Britain's small professional army with volunteers. Britain was the most effective country in using propaganda to their benefit from all the other countries that participated in the war. As well, the theme of patriotism was one of the most impactful themes to use in recruitment posters.

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