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How widespread was support for the war in Britain when it broke out and why did so many men enlist?

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Andreas Wallendahl 23/09/2003 How widespread was support for the war in Britain when it broke out and why did so many men enlist? Support for the war in Britain was huge it was so big that men from every type of life and all parts of England volunteered to fight. So many volunteered that there were huge masses of men waiting outside of the recruiting stations to be enrolled. And the training system was completely overcrowded. There were so many men that there weren't enough red coats or guns. Nearly five million men recruited, 22% of the male population. In January 1914 the British army had 711,000 men but four years later there were almost 4,400,000 men however just over a third of these men were conscripted. ...read more.


Not every one was for the war though. Many from the church community opposed the war and anti conscription meetings were held saying that people should not have to go if they didn't want to. Also the many respectable middle class working families did not like the army. The mother of William Robertson, a field marshal wrote to him when she head that he had enlisted for the army saying: "I would rather bury you than see you in a red coat". Men joined up for the army so readily because of several reasons. Many men were bored and needed to get away from the 'normal' life, and this was a great opportunity to go and have a free trip and even visit a new country. ...read more.


Another big factor was civic pride; towns and cities competed to see who could provide the most men. Some towns were completely drained of men that were of age. The Pals Battalions however made most men join the army because with this system if you joined with your pals you were guaranteed to be with them when fighting. All kinds of Pals Battalions were formed from the 'North East Railway' to '1st Football' to the 'Church Lads'. Also most of the schools and Colleges were emptied of their students who all went to fight. However there was one problem with the Pals Battalions because they could all be wiped out at once leaving no one left to go back home. ...read more.

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