In our series The Great War – Through a London Child’s Eye, we’re following “The Private Diary of Edward Hampton” to learn about life as a child in London 1916, half way through the First World War.
One of the most common uses of propaganda posters was to persuade men to join the army, such as the famous poster of Lord Kitchener.
The government used posters to try to bring together people from different jobs and backgrounds to help fight the war.
The theme of people from every walk of life joining together to beat the enemy was very popular and made people feel patriotic.
By the end of 1914, over one million people had volunteered to join the army.
Dramatic depictions of events such as the sinking of the Lusitania (where 1,000 civilians died after a passenger ship was attacked by a German submarine in 1915) were used to motivate people to join the army.
Recruitment posters weren’t just aimed at men – the government used them to recruit women to help with the war effort too.
Posters weren’t just used to recruit people into joining the armed forces: before rationing was introduced, posters encouraged people to cut down on resources that were becoming harder to come by – like bread!
Posters encouraged people to collect hens’ eggs to feed wounded soldiers.
Both girls and boys helped with this job. Many homes kept chickens during the Many homes kept chickens during the war if they had space outside.
A film from the Ministry of Information asked people to save the bones from their meat. The film said bones could be used to help make munitions and girls helped with the collection.
The Government needed to recruit lots of soldiers and wanted people to work together. So what the public thought about the war really mattered.
They tried hard to persuade people to think in a certain way. This is called propaganda.
Posters were printed that made the army look exciting. Other posters told men it was their duty to join and they would feel proud if they did.
Some posters even tried to make them feel guilty, saying their children would be embarrassed if their father had done nothing in the war!
Stories about bad things the Germans had done were also encouraged. The Government knew people would be angry and even frightened.
Everyone would want Britain to win the war and make the Germans pay for the dreadful things they were supposed to have done.
During World War One, propaganda was employed on a global scale.
Unlike previous wars, this was the first total war in which whole nations and not just professional armies were locked in mortal combat.
This and subsequent modern wars required propaganda to mobilise hatred against the enemy; to convince the population of the justness of the cause; to enlist the active support and cooperation of neutral countries, and to strengthen the support of allies.
You can find out more about Propoganda in 1916 at the Brent Museum and Archive and at the Islington Museum.
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