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Remembered Today:

What Reason Did They Give Tommy?


PhilB
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We here because we here B)

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Kitchener’s instructions to the troops in 1914:

“You are ordered abroad as a soldier of the King to help our French comrades against the invasion of a common enemy. You have to perform a task which will need your courage, your energy, your patience. Remember that the honour of the British Army depends on your individual conduct. It will be your duty not only to set an example of discipline and perfect steadiness under fire but also to maintain the most friendly relations with those whom you are helping in this struggle. The operations in which you are engaged will, for the most part, take place in a friendly country, and you can do your own country no better service than showing in yourself in France and Belgium the true character of a British soldier.

“Be invariably courteous, considerate and kind. Never do anything likely to injure or destroy property, and always look upon looting as a disgraceful act. You are sure to meet a welcome and to be trusted; your conduct must justify that welcome and that trust. Your duty cannot be done unless your health is sound. So keep constantly on your guard against any excesses. In this new experience you may find temptations both in wine and women. You must entirely resist both temptations, and, while treating all women with perfect courtesy, you should avoid any intimacy.

Do your duty bravely.

Fear God.

Honour the King.

KITCHENER,

Field-Marshal.”

Bit more than a sentence.

Tony.

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Malcolm Brown qoutes a soldier of the Queen Victoria's Rifles in 1915 ''We all had one great ambition, to see Germany smashed, and then have the time of our lives upon our return home'' I think this view probably represented the feelings of a fair few Tommies.

Jon :)

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I doubt if Tommy actually asked,in 1914;when he volunteered he knew as much as he needed to know!

You didn't ask the Gaffers why,

"Ours is not to reason why..."

The questioning of everything is a Sixties phenomena

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Guest KevinEndon

I guess the officer would say something along the lines.

"Serjeant Major make sure this orrible little man spends the next two weeks carrying rations to the front line and when he has done that the coal could do with painting. Get him out my sight."

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Quite a range of responses so far!

Put it another way - Tommy, cold, wet and miserable, turns to his mate and says "Bert, why the hell are we here?" What does Bert say? Phil B

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QUOTE (Phil_B @ Aug 20 2006, 01:05 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
Put it another way - Tommy, cold, wet and miserable, turns to his mate and says "Bert, why the hell are we here?" What does Bert say? Phil B

''For Belgium, now shaddup and eat your plum an' apple'' :P

Jon :D

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Sing to tune of: "Auld Lang Syne"

We're Here Because We're Here

Because We're Here Because We're Here

We're Here Because We're Here

Because We're Here Because We're Here

Note: Repeat until you get tired.

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From the "New Church" Times:

'If at any time you happen to be at all depressed - though of course this is extremely unlikely out here where there is so much to interest and delight one - find out where there is a lecture on anywhere, given by the GCO first or second of a Division about to be relieved, to the officers of the relieving Division, and go to it at once. It will make you realise that war is worth while. Roughly speaking, the show will be as follows:- The room is packed with an expectant but nervous conglomeration of officers, of whom certainly not more than the first two rows will hear a word of the glad tidings... Unfortunately the lighting effects are poor, but anyway you have a quiet ten minutes in which to give your pal instructions what to do with your corpse. The best part of the lecture is, of course, that it leaves you with a magnificent thirst.'

Robert

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How about the philisophical, "Because we're humans and this is what humans do--we've done it since the dawn of man, we're doing it now, and we're destined to keep on doing it in the future."

Chris

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How do YOU explain it? How do we get into the minds of men who volunteered to go to war in their millions or people handing out white feathers to men not in uniform?

Our media go into hysterics when 100 troops are killed over 3 years of fighting, so how do you explain how what they thought when that number of deaths happened in minutes?

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One has to assume that people`s ideas were formed, not by the mass media as today, but by other influences. Since most were churchgoers, I suspect the clergy might have had a significant role. The local papers may have been another. I don`t whether they would have promoted their own line or whether there were Rupert Murdoch figures of the time who dictated the line. Phil B

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Sorry I thought this was a question about WW1, not the middle ages. Otherwise the assumption is a bit odd, there was mass media around in 1914 in the form of illustrated magazines and newspapers, including tabloids - and I don‘t just mean the Sopwith tabloid! This list is not exhaustive, but the mass media included :Answers to Correspondents, Comic Cuts (Lord Northcliffe Dictionary of National Biography says that was ‘a pictorial magazine which was not aimed at children but at adults who had read little or nothing previously’), Mail, Mirror, Express, The Globe, Graphic, Observer, Sunday Pictorial, Sketch, Telegraph, & Times. Those are national titles to add to the local ones and then there was the conditioning for some boys that they had had reading the Boys Own. Without a mass media i don't see how the recruiters got a mass responce.

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Neither of my grandfathers had the vote until 1918 and they were in the majority. They volunteered, so presumably knew why they were there. If someone had the mindset to ask that question 9 out of 10 answers would be along the lines of ‘because I said so’ or dripping with sarcasm.

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I understand that some troops in 1914 thought they were going to fight the French, and on discovering it was the Germans didn't really seem to mind, so long as they fought someone.

And, of course, later there were all the popular music hall songs which summed the situation up pretty clearly!

Edwin

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Oh and I'd hate to be in that blokes shoes when the RSM caught him! Much rather go over the top 1/7/16!

"didn't really seem to mind, so long as they fought someone."

A grandfather volunteered for Russia partly for that reason but mostly to keep getting paid and food.

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Sorry I thought this was a question about WW1, not the middle ages.

I don`t know what the exposure to communications media was like in 1914. I do know it was far less in WW2 than now - a wireless set, newsreel at the cinema and an occasional paper.. Go back 25 years and I suspect few Tommies-to-be would have much access to any. Most were struggling to make ends meet. Phil B

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QUOTE (Phil_B @ Aug 27 2006, 03:58 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
Go back 25 years and I suspect few Tommies-to-be would have much access to any.

Phil

I can't agree with you here.

There is much evidence that people were avid newspaper readers. And, at least in the Manchester area, the newspapers were important forms of communication. There are regular reports of "crowds" massing round the city's newspaper offices when important events were unfolding so that they could be the first to get the special editions.

There is also strong evidence that the right-wing press were very culpable propagandists. They used the same style of half-truths and biased commentary against "foreigners" as recent press outbursts against sex offenders. And with very much the same results. There were riots in Liverpool and Manchester after the sinking of the Lusitania where the mob attacked anyone with a foreign sounding name - in much the same way as a paediatrician had her home attacked in 2000 after a newspaper campaign against paedophiles.

John

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I hope you will not think me a naive fool but I believe that many of the tommies, if really pressed felt that thye fought for simple things, such as to prevent their country and their families having to live under tyranny. Even simpler things, like loyalty to the man in the trench next to him would almost certainly hav played a role in Tommy turning to face the enemy in Flanders Fields. I am not going to say that such feelings were universal, in fact I am sure they were not. But these simple motivations almost certainly influenced a lot of British soldiers who volunteered and even many who were conscripted.

Jon B)

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John, roughly what I implied in #16. The newspaper probably was the mass media of the day. Whether Tommy-to-be bought one, went to the news office or got it by hearsay, it was probably the opinion former for him. Which leads us to the question - in Manchester, say, who decided editorial policy? A local man? Or did they read mainly national papers? Phil B

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Jon, from my recollections of asking WW1 men why they volunteered, the reason was indeed simple. Most often, it was "because my mates were all going". So who had persuaded the mates? Back to the newspapers? Phil B

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