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Your Country Needs You (well I do!)


funfly
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I am researching recruitment publicity in the early war years 1914-15, particularly the 'Kitchener' advert by Alfred Leete that first appeared on the front cover of the London Opinion magazine in 1914 and was subsequently used by HMGov on advertising posters.

This is a research project and a pretty serious investigation.I have a number of questions and will post them on this forum as time goes on.

My research is concerned with the relationship between the strong visual impact and the emotional wording in the poster.I am interested to know how the design migrated from the magazine to HMGov, was It actually Kitchener's picture and where did this originate? I want to find out it's true impact on the general public then as opposed to folk lore about it now. (how would we react to being pointed to by this image nowadays?)

This first posting is to introduce myself to the forum and to plea for anyone with any specialist knowledge about this very small area of WW1 to make contact with me. All contributors will be given credit in the final publication.

Martyn Thatcher

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I am a mature (well very mature actually born pre WW2) student and I have just completed a degree in Art and design. I am now doing a BA (hons) in Graphic Design and my final dissertation is to be on

The Power of the Kitchener Poster

The object of the dissertation will be to find out where the power of this particular poster came from by investigating poster design and the interaction/combination of design and text, particularly its evolution up to 1914 and how this has impacted onto contemporary poster design.

I hope to get to the National War Museum where they have originals of the poster in it's various guises and would also like to make contact with any specialists there. Alfred Leete went on to design many of the London Underground posters, in an era when posters generally contained more writing than pictures he pioneered a very simple style. Another interesting aspect is that the phrase 'Your Country Needs You' actually does not say what the poster is all about i.e. 'join up'. In fact the government used different words in their posters not all of them grammatically correct. As I am sure you know, the poster was at the time copied by the US, Italian and Soviet armies and has been used many times up to the present day.

It would really be interesting to find out if the poster's reputation was true in practice, i.e. how did the 'man in the street' react to it, was there a general mood of patriotism etc. I also want confirmation that it actually was Kitchener's picture and how the Government got hold of it from the magazine.

Sorry, I go on and on about this but I do find it a fascinating way of looking into the mood of the country in that period. Having done some study into WW2 and having lived through it, I do realise that the pictures of the proletariat painted during the events may not represent reality!

When I've finished it, which will be next year, I will gladly make the contents available to anyone else interested.

Martyn Thatcher

Cheshire

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There was a degree of cynicism in the populace and KoK was not universally welcomed as a saviour. One of the Astors described him as a good poster. For ' high society's ' view of him from an influential and less than sympathetic viewpoint, try Repington's " The First World War 1914-1918". Stuffed full of drawing room gossip and what the Establishment thought when having dinner or lunching at the Ritz.

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I have a 1916 book by Alfred Leete in my collection that may interest you if you were not already aware of it. Leete's "Schmidt the Spy" was a hardcover book consisting of full page cartoons chronicling the story of a "bumbling" German spy using a stereotypical comic/portly German character who continues to send misguided spy reports as he does not understand British culture.

Title: SCHMIDT THE SPY AND HIS MESSAGES TO BERLIN

Author: Alfred Leete

Publ.: London, Duckworth & Co., 3 Henrietta St., Covent Garden, 1916

The first image below is from a pamplet published by the "London Opinion" magazine. The book I have is hardcover - with a coloured cover as shown below.

Also, while looking into this I found a website about magazines which discusses Alfred Leete his image of "Kitchener / Your Country Needs You" which appeared on the cover of the London Opinion on 05 September 1914. This article by Tony Quinn provides his thoughts on the lasting popularity of this image. Link to Alfred Leete / London Opinion / Article by T. Quinn.

Quinn wrote: "In 2002, Leete's iconic Kitchener poster ...was nominated as 'the best recruitment advert of all time' by advertising trade weekly Campaign. ".

- Marika

post-3697-1275778001.jpg

post-3697-1275777799.jpg

Schmidt_the_Spy_Cartoon_pg_45_rsz.JPG

Schmidt_the_Spy_Cartoon_pg_17_rsz.JPG

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Martyn

If I remember correctly,the original poster just had the words "needs you" underneath Kitchener's image. This was testimony to Kitchener's huge popularity nationally and was trying to tap into this particular reserve. The addition of "your country needs you" shows a slightly different change in approach; the combination of the personal appeal by a national hero, and a more direct appeal to patriotism. My guess is that the addition to the latter poster may well have been influenced by Government.

TR

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There are a number of different Kitchener posters on this WEB SITE

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There are a number of different Kitchener posters on this WEB SITE

Have you any contacts about who compiled this website especially the author of the article about recruitment - someone who seems to know what he/she is talking about.

M.T.

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Martyn

You may already know about the Parliamentary Recruiting Committee material at the British Library, but in case not, here are the relevant extracts from the BL's manuscript catalogue:

Add MS 54192 A and B

PARLIAMENTARY RECRUITING COMMITTEE: minutes of the Parliamentary Recruiting Committee, 27 Aug. 1914-20 July 1916, with related papers; 1914-1917, 1967. Typewritten, with autograph amendments and signatures. Presented by Richard Humphrey Davies, C.B. formerly Clerk of the Committee, 17 June 1967.

Add MS 54192 A

PARLIAMENTARY RECRUITING COMMITTEE. Vol. I A (ff. viii+56) Minutes 27 Aug. 1914-29 Nov. 1915. Also included are: (i) a letter from the donor, R. H. Davies, giving details about the Committee; 4 May 1967. ff. ii-vi; (ii) two photographs of the room at 12 Downing St. where the Committee met;

Add MS 54192 B

PARLIAMENTARY RECRUITING COMMITTEE. Vol. I B (ff. iv+73) Minutes, etc. 11 Oct. 1915-6 Jan. 1917.

Jane

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the author of the article about recruitment

That's me.

someone who seems to know what he/she is talking about.

That doesn't sound like me.

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The theme was much copied as you can see from my avatar which is taken from a Canadian recruitment poster. There was also one with Uncle Sam on it.

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Martyn,

In the photo gallery section of John Duncan's web-site-Newbattle at War-you will find a series of 41 recruitment and other posters from the WW1 War Years.

You will also find in the "8th Royal Scots at War" section, the front of a post card extolling the virtue of joining that particular Regiment,in 1914.

I have no personal knowledge of how successful either campaigns were. :D

George

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Saw a bit of the "Antiques Roadshow' the other day which stated that Kitchener's poster (with pointed finger) was the inspiration for the Uncle Sam poster!

shawn

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Saw a bit of the "Antiques Roadshow' the other day which stated that Kitchener's poster (with pointed finger) was the inspiration for the Uncle Sam poster!

shawn

Well I never! who'd a thought it?

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Uncle Sam is still recruiting see the original

and a modern one

I have amassed quite a collection of these.

It's interesting (to me) that the 'hand drawn' font style has been repeated as much as the picture and I want to find out how important that was to the poster, it might just have been that there was no type available at the time large enough!

Is it the eyes? I have made replicas with the eyes just a shade off and the difference is pronounced. Perhaps the finger?

Let's be honest if you met a man and he pointed his finger at you would you respond favourably - why did it have such a positive reaction in 1914?

Virtually all the other posters at the time were of the tone "if you don't join up you are a sissy!" This one has none of this claim.

Your contributions are being very helpful.

Does anyone know someone at the Imperial War Museum who would give me access to posters etc. of the period if I went down to see them?

Thanks again, lots to research.

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funfly,

Here's the article I mentioned in post #18. There may be some links or contacts that you could use.

shawn

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funfly,

I cannot directly answer your question.

However,my Father "saw" his Brothers as members of the TF going to War in 1914.

Apparently his Father denounced him as a recruit to the RFC as being underage.

We can only now speculate which Posters drove a man,or boy,in WW1 to join the Colours.

But in my Father's defence,he was never given a "white feather" or if he did,never said so.

George

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I remember Professor Pete Simkins, author of the excellent book, 'Kitchener's Army', saying that Alfred Leete's Kitchener poster was never part of the Parliamentary Recruiting Committee's official poster campaign. He also went on to say that he didn't think it was used outside London.

It would be interesting to know if anyone has photographs showing the poster being used outside London.

I remember one old veteran being interviewed who said that he was persuaded to join by "Kitchener's pointing finger" but, when pushed, he admitted that he didn't actually remember seeing a poster at the time and might have absorbed the image into his own memory after the war!

Interesting thread...

Taff

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Yes, Taff makes a good point that the fame of the poster has built up over the past 90 odd years and it willl now be difficult to establish its contemporary impact. Where was it used? When was it used and in what numbers? Positioning it in and amongst the other posters used will be difficult. Also, just how effective were posters in general in causing men to join up? Were those that did so already "converted" and in need of no more preaching. I suppose the dates of the poster's use would have a big impact on effectiveness.

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