Daddy, what did you do in the Great War?

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"Daddy, what did YOU do in the Great War?" was a British recruitment poster from 1915. It was released by the Parliamentary Recruiting Committee.

Recruitment poster[edit]

A war recruitment poster from the First World War shows a daughter posing a question to her father, "Daddy, what did YOU do in the Great War?"

There was a "vast" recruitment campaign in Great Britain during World War I. Recruitment for World War I was different from prior wars, which had been fought by the "regular army". Samuel Hynes writes that the war would be fought on such a scale that "this time there would also have to be a vast recruitment of men like Daddy".[1]

There were 1.4 million new volunteers in 1915, up from 1 million in 1914. 2.4 million Britons, or approximately 30% of military aged men, had volunteered for military service. Scholars believe the "scale and nature of enlistment in Great Britain and the Dominions suggest the nations' emotional investment in the war". Stéphane Audoin-Rouzeau and Annette Becker have written that the campaign of mass propaganda, including what they describe as the "guilt-inducing and brutal messages" such as "Daddy, what did YOU do in the Great War?" were not the only contributing factor to these recruitment figures, writing that recruiters "quickly decided that using the latest forms of mass advertising had a negative effect".[2]

The poster played on the guilt associated with not volunteering for wartime service.[3] Karyn Burman writes that propaganda posters of the time "presented a carefully crafted image of manhood defining 'real' men as those who fought for their families, for King and Country." She cites this poster as an example of an image that was "designed to question a man's sense of self-worth".[4]


  1. ^ Hynes, Samuel (1998-04-01). The Soldiers' Tale: Bearing Witness to a Modern War. Penguin. ISBN 978-1-101-19172-9. 
  2. ^ Audoin-Rouzeau, Stéphane; Becker, Annette (2014-12-23). 14-18: Understanding the Great War. Farrar, Straus and Giroux. ISBN 978-1-4668-8778-7. 
  3. ^ "Daddy, what did You do in the Great War?". Imperial War Museum. Retrieved 4 February 2015. 
  4. ^ Burnham, Karyn (2014-04-30). The Courage of Cowards: The untold Stories of the First World War Conscientious Objectors. Pen and Sword. ISBN 978-1-78159-295-3.