'Women of Britain Say - Go'
This poster (No 75) was published by the Parliamentary Recruiting Committee, London, in March 1915. It was designed by Edgar James Kealey (1889-1977).
At face value this poster suggests that it is the duty of British women to put aside selfish reasons and encourage their menfolk to enlist. The apparently well-off young woman watching local recruits marching away is accompanied by two refugees, a boy and a girl, thereby implying a dual act of patriotism in both supporting the recruitment drive and offering her home to those escaping persecution on the Continent. But there was more to the image than this. The inclusion of refugees also hints at the implications of a German victory, a prospect made all the more alarming by the credence given by many to government endorsed atrocity propaganda regarding the treatment of civilians in occupied Belgium. With this is mind, telling your husband/brother/lover to 'Go' was more that just a duty, it was a matter of self-preservation.
For the eligible recruit targeted by this campaign the image of vulnerable women stoically seeing their loved ones off was also meant to elicit a sense of shame for not having joined up already. The message was reinforced by less subtle recruitment literature which openly questioned the motivation and manliness of those who chose to stay behind.
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National Army Museum, Study collection