First World War Recruitment Posters

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Britons. Join Your Country’s Army!

This is perhaps the most famous poster from the First World War, and shows Field Marshal Lord Kitchener, appealing for people to join the British Army.  It was first produced in 1914, but has taken on a more iconic status since the war, when it was not widely circulated outside of the London area.  However, its striking visual appeal was picked up by other artists, including in the USA, where the image of Kitchener was replaced by Uncle Sam.

Women of Britain say ‘Go!’

This poster clearly demonstrates the application of commercial advertising techniques to the recruitment campaign and is appealing to Britain’s female population to encourage more men to join the army, whilst depicting women and children as needing protection. However, The First World War substantially increased the numbers of women in paid work and the range of jobs that they undertook.


The Women’s Army Auxiliary Corps (WAAC) was established in December 1916. Women who joined the Corps carried out a large number of non-combatant tasks in France, freeing up more men for service in the front line. The first party of 14 women arrived on the Western Front on 31 March 1917. Eventually, 9,000 women served with the unit in France.

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Are You in This?

This poster was designed by Robert Baden Powell who established the Scouting movement. It shows how different sections of society are contributing to the war effort, including a scout. On the side lines is a man shown with his hands in his pockets, and smoking a cigarette, who is not yet involved.

Step Into Your Place

This poster shows a united Britain, with all members of society going to war together. Everyone is shown carrying the tools of their trade or profession, with civilians gradually transforming into British infantrymen.

Sportsmen’s One-thousand

The idea that team sports were good preparation for war was common across Britain and its Empire. Team sports incorporated both team spirit and a sense of patriotism and this Australian poster plays on the country’s sporting pride and its growing sense of identity.

This Soldier is Defending India

This Indian recruitment poster was produced with a blank strip at the bottom, so that each region could add text in their own language. This made the poster very flexible, as it could be adapted to meet the needs of the area it was going to. However, recruitment posters were less common in India, where the recruitment campaign was conducted differently. India was still a largely rural society at this time and poster campaigns were more associated with urban areas.

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? [The Question Mark]

This poster was designed for the last recruiting campaign carried out by the Government of Australia during the First World War. It shows an ape-like monster, wearing a German helmet, or pickelhaube, which was seen as a symbol of German militarism. The poster was part of a sophisticated campaign, and the graphic imagery is particularly forceful and very different to that used in British posters.

New Germany

This striking poster imagines an Australia occupied and taken over by Germany. This was never a realistic fear for the people of Australia, but rather reflects the fear of a world dominated by Germany and the values it was perceived to have.

Irishmen Avenge the Lusitania

The passenger liner RMS Lusitania was torpedoed and sunk by a German U-boat in May 1915. The ship may have been carrying military supplies, but over 1000 passengers lost their lives in the incident, which became one of the most controversial acts of the war. This poster uses the incident to try and encourage Irish men to enlist, and avenge the sinking of the ship.