Learning Curve, The Great War
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Useful notes: Source2
Extract from the diary of British factory worker Robert Cude, September 1914
(Imperial War Museum, reproduced by kind permission of Susan Ashton)
  • Robert Cude was a factory worker from Kent. As soon as war broke out in August 1914, he tried to join the navy, but he was rejected. Less than a month later, he and three friends from the factory where he worked applied to join the army.
  • In 1914, there was a huge surge of volunteers who wanted to join up and do their duty for their country. Britain had no system of calling men up to fight so they relied on volunteers and a recruitment campaign.
  • The campaign was headed by Lord Kitchener, whose face appeared on the famous 'Your Country Needs You' poster. The campaign was successful in August and September 1914, but volunteers then fell away in October. Another poster campaign raised levels of volunteers in November 1914, but the numbers then fell away again. They continued to be too low for the army throughout 1915, which was why conscription was introduced in 1916.
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