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World War One propaganda: A look at wartime ads from 1914-1918

As Saturday 28 June marks 100 years since the start of World War One, and 4 August marks the anniversary of Britian officially going to war, we take a look back at some of the most famous propaganda ads from the time.

Your king and country needs you

The Secretary of State for War awarded Sir Hedley Le Bas, Eric Field, and the Caxton Advertising Agency a contract to advertise for recruits in the major UK newspapers.

While the war was essentially set in motion on 28 June, following the assassination of the Archduke Ferdinand, Britain did not officially declare war on the German Empire until 4 August 1914. The next day, this ad appeared in print.

Lord Kitchener

The famous image of Lord Kitchener pointing and encouraging men to join the army originally appeared as a London Opinion magazine cover in September 1914, before being adapted as a recruitment ad.

Why bother about the Germans invading the country?

Children at play in a spring landscape make up this poster, promoting use of the underground and buses.

Unveiled in 1915, the image was designed & printed by Spottiswoode & Co.

War bonds. Feed the guns!

Created by artist Bert Thomas in 1915, this was one of many ads urging members of the public to buy bonds in order to raise money.

National Service Women's Land Army

Promoting that women can play a role in the war is this "God speed the plough and the woman who drives it" poster by H.G. Gawthorn.

Go! It's your duty lad

Created by the Parliamentary Recruiting Committee, this ad shows an older woman encouraging a young man to enlist, and plays on the patriotic values of Britain.

To prevent this - buy war savings certificates now

Another war certificates ad, this suggests that if members of the public do not buy, then the nation will be taken over by Germans and Brits will become slaves.

Young men of Britain! The Germans said you were not in earnest

Another ad hitting out at Germans, this recruitment ad looks to make men who haven’t signed up yet want to prove Germany wrong.

Designed and printed by Johnson, Riddle & Co, this came amongst a series of ads warning against “the barbarian”.


While rationing is more associated with World War Two, it was in place in WW1, as this ad reveals. Cutting down on the number of servants and not just wearing clothes once are all suggested as ways to save money.

Once a German, always a German

This British Empire Union poster from the immediate post-war period shows images of German violence, cruelty, and drunkenness during the war – including a baby on a spear - suggesting that any German item bought offended Britain.

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