'Britain Needs You At Once', poster, 1914
This poster was published by the Parliamentary Recruiting Committee in June 1915. In both Britain and Germany, the image of St George slaying the dragon was used to symbolise the ultimate triumph of good over evil. It also represented the values of an imagined medieval past, popularised in England by the Arts and Crafts movement and illustrated children's literature, which emphasised the chivalry and nobility of combat.
How far removed this romanticised view of warfare was from the realities of the Western Front can easily be imagined. Even so, depictions of armoured warriors fighting for justice and honour recur in the propaganda literature of many of the combatant countries, whether in the form of national symbols such as Britannia (Great Britain), Marianne (France) and Liberty (USA) or as heroes from the past. The use of medieval knights to represent national virtues was especially popular in Germany and Austria where such images drew on a rich tradition of folklore and historical fact.
NAM Accession Number
National Army Museum, Out of Copyright
National Army Museum, Study collection