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Experiences of the Great War

War begins

When war was declared in August 1914, an initial wave of enthusiasm spread across the country.

Britain's standing army was small by comparison to the conscripted armies of France, Russia and Germany. Lord Kitchener, Secretary of State for War, recognised that the strength of the British Army must be increased as a matter of urgency. He soon issued a call for volunteers to compose a 'new' army — and the response was phenomenal.

The initial enthusiasm to get to the front before the war ended was buoyed by campaigns from the Parliamentary Recruiting Committee calling on men to do their duty.

As the realities of trench warfare and its unimagined human cost began to hit home, however, calls were made to introduce compulsory military service.

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