History GCSE / National 5: Why did thousands of men enlist at the start of WW1?

Jeremy Paxman introduces Lord Kitchener's iconic patriotic recruitment campaign and tells us about the Pals regiments, which were formed of men from one local area or of the same profession.

Lord Kitchener was Britain’s most famous living soldier in 1914, and newly appointed Minister of War. He launched a poster campaign on a huge scale, to persuade men to volunteer to fight.

We see what the posters looked like, and hear about the different ways they encouraged men to sign up, inciting duty, fear of invasion and guilt. We see contemporary footage of public recruiting events, and hear how a patriotic mood swept the nation, causing men to enlist at unprecedented speed and scale.

Teacher Notes

KS3 Pupils could analyse the motivations used in different posters, and design their own to appeal to the public’s guilt, pride or fear.

KS4/GCSE Use for context and examples of the recruitment campaign. Complement by analysing a range of different poster techniques used in the poster campaign. Look for examples of such motivations as guilt, pride and fear in the posters. Consider the likely target audiences for the different methods and their likely success.

National 5 / Higher Students could study recruitment posters from World War One and discuss the methods used to persuade men to sign up. Students could also discuss the motives of young men who joined up, and the negative propaganda which targeted men who had not signed up.

Curriculum Notes

This clip will be relevant for teaching History. This topic appears in at KS3 in England, Wales and Northern Ireland and OCR, Edexcel, AQA and WJEC/Eduqas GCSE/KS4 in England and Wales and CCEA GCSE in Northern Ireland.

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