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Remembered Today:

IMW Curator Taylor and the Times


edwin astill
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Times, 10th July. Article by one Richard Morrison on the IWM exhibition. This para caught my eye (direct quote from paper):

One of the most emotive sections of the exhibition is that devoted to Lord Kitchener's infamous recruiting campaigns. "There is a feeling today that the men who signed up to fight were dupes," Taylor says. "We are trying to show that they went for reasons of patriotism, something that's hard for us to believe now. They really thought that Germany was a threat. Also it was a chance to get a job, with millions unemployed in Britain. They could get clothed and fed, go abroad and have new experiences."

.....

Can't wait to see some of the infamous war posters - but not in front of the children, please. How were men duped? Were they promised a life of ease and comfort? Also, how many millions were unemployed in Britain in 1914?

Edwin

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Times were tough before the Great War and I've seen it written that things were so bad conditions were developing for a revolution. In the 1901 census, a 2xGreat-grandfather - a shepherd - was living with his wife, widowed son and two grandsons in a two-roomed cottage. My Grandfather enlisted in 1909 because he was struggling for work. I have a post-card he sent to my Grandmother shortly before he joined up where he apologises for breaking their date for the coming weekend but he'd had only two days work and couldn't afford the train fare.

I have no doubt that many men enlisted at the outbreak of war for patriotic reasons but that doesn't mean that we should ignore the fact that, in peace-time at least, soldiers were fed regularly and clothed. Also don't forget that a fair number of men were rejected for war service because they were malnourished. Those good old days weren't all that good.

Keith

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Enlist for patriotic reasons

The Durham Coalfield was on a two day fortnight - that's why so many Durham miners enlisted in August, September and November 1914.

The Tyneside Irish recruiting office was opposite a Pot Pie shop for his shilling a recruit could buy four Pot pies and feed his family.

With eight kids at the age of 44 my Great Grandfather enlisted into the TI not for King and Country but to feed the kids.

"We are trying to show that they went for reasons of patriotism, something that's hard for us to believe now. They really thought that Germany was a threat. Also it was a chance to get a job, with millions unemployed in Britain."

"it was a chance to get a job," They had jobs the coal owners laid the Pits idle!

Personally I think the people putting on the exhibition want to get into the real world.

In 1968 I joined up because it was a choice the army or the pit.

Personally some academics want a size 12 boot up the ****.

regards,

sorry for the rant

John

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Surely the first post shows that the exhibition is trying to look at all of the various reasons for joining up. I have seen letters which show that some men did enlist for patriotism but also that others needed a job.Some also enlisted out of a sense of adventure or a desire to go away from home. I suspect that there were strong regional, class, and ethnic variations. Is it fair to argue that the experience in the North East was typical of the whole country?

Greg

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I suppose the word to focus on in the report is 'infamous', which seems a rather stange (or at least ponted) one to use.

My grandfather came from a line of railway workers - I think his uncles were all station masters. Working as a clerk in a shoe factory in Leicester, he had been learning Spanish with an intention to emigrate to South Americs (Argentina, IIRC). He enlisted relatively early on - 3 September 1914 - and then made the army his career post war.

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I've seen newspaper articles stating men volunteered although they had jobs.

Kath.

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Certainly many of the first Kitchener volunteers were jobless, but when the real surge in recruiting came at the end of August 1914 it was for two reasons. One was that with news of the Retreat from Mons it seemed that thr Expeditionary Force was in trouble and people joined up because they felt that their services were really needed. The second reason was that many in work needed time to settle their affairs before volunteering.

Charles M

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I don't know whether a Size 12 boot would fit these academics, but I assume that those with an interest in viewing this topic in the round, rather than by individual family memories, might be prepared to read:

David Sibley, The British Working Class and Enthusiasm for War (Cass 2005)

Catriona Pennell, A KIngdom United: Popular Responses to the First World War in Britain and Ireland (Oxford 2012).

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