Army/Navy Recruitment 1790-1918

  • Created by: lwilson23
  • Created on: 16-03-19 20:57

French Wars/Pen Wars


- many men were tricked by recruiting sergeants into enlisting, with many also joining in order to escape time in prison ('scum of the earth').

- some also joined the yeomanry - a reservist militia force which remained in Britain.

- thugs called 'crimps' also trawled the streets and ale-houses for potential recruits - common men.

- some men also enlisted even if they had alternatives in pursuit of glory and adventure.


- Royal Navy Press Gangs forced men to enlist, included artisans and merchant sailors.

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- not always voluntary - army would seek recruit in public houses and sometimes coax them into enlisting. 

- cash incentive was also often offered to volunteers. 

- between Crimea and the Boer War - events such as the Industrial Revolution made army recruitment much harder - as men favoured safer, higher paying work in factories than the army. 

- Cardwell responded to this in 1871 by banning flogging and branding in the army and stopping recruiting sergeants using 'bounty money' in order to trick people into signing up. An attempt to make the army more appealing

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Boer War


- as jingoism in Britain reached its height - a sudden rush of volunteers (with events such as 'Black Week' triggering this) attempted to sign up - 60% of which had to be turned down on medical grounds. 

- despite this - these men joined the Imperial Yeomanry and the City Imperial Volunteers at home. 

- this sudden flurry of recruitment led to the health of the nation being investigated - and subsequent reform

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- the army was originally comprised of the BEF - who were replaced by Haldane's TA after the 1st Battle of Ypres. 

- the TA was then reinforced by Kitchener's 'New Army' - volunteers who responded in large numbers to the call to arms due to the totality of the war and clever propaganda usage. 

- the drop in number of volunteers after Kitchener's very successful recruitment drive wore off and the horrors of war were revealed as injured troops returned home meant that conscription was brought in under the Military Service Act of Jan 1916. Increased quantity but reduced quality. 

- conscientious objectors were an issue that Britain dealt with by giving them ancillary roles. 

- recruitment drives such as the pals' battalions (where groups of men would sign up and serve together) were very successful - but had a devastating morale impact when men saw friends die

- recruitement for the navy was very similar for recruitment to the army during WWI. 

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