Of course we all know of Lord Kitchener’s “Your Country Needs You” poster. But did that poster, on its own, really make one million young men sign up, even as the stories of the casualties and the horrors started to filter back home?
Certainly the first 18 months of the war was fought by volunteers, with conscription not introduced until 1916. By then well over two million men had signed up of their own free will.
Amazingly, one of the largest single recruiting devices that took all these young men to France was Football League matches.
Before each game, at half time, and as the crowd drifted away, recruiting officers did their work, persuading any man who looked over 18 (and many who didn’t) to sign up.
This process was in the hands of the local town councillors, some of whom (as a reward for their efforts) were knighted, and indeed a few of whom were even given the rank of Lt Colonel later in the war. These men never fought – the just recruited.
This is just one of the many realities of the First World War that is sometimes forgotten, and it shows just how our concept of history can be adjusted by tales told on TV and in the cinema.
Indeed to get to the very heart of what the first world war was truly about for young men who, having left their home to watch the local club play on a Saturday afternoon, found themselves in France just a few weeks later, one has to see where they went. One has to visit the battlefields, trenches, museums and cemeteries.
Our services are run by history graduates utterly committed to the study of the period by schools, and as Outside the Classroom quality badge holders we offer a robust safety management system.
We vet transport, accommodation and excursion suppliers before each tour, and carry out random spot checks to ensure standards are maintained.
You will also find that, among other benefits, we don’t charge for late changes to bookings, while all tours are of course designed in line with the current curriculum requirements.