Daddy, What Did You Do in the Great War?


Until the entry into force, on March 2, 1916, of the Military Service Act introducing conscription, Great Britain’s World War I army was comprised entirely of volunteers. Many of the most famous wartime posters were recruitment appeals. This 1915 poster, designed and printed by Johnson, Riddle & Company of London for the Parliamentary Recruiting Committee, shows a father in the comfort of his postwar home, being asked by his children, “Daddy, what did YOU do in the Great War?” Commercial advertising in mass-circulation newspapers and magazines was a well-developed industry in Great Britain by the early 20th century. The efforts of many of its most talented practitioners—graphic designers, copy writers, and artists—flowed into the wartime propaganda effort. This poster, with its imagery of middle-class comfort and its play upon the psychology of the father, reflects the influence of the advertising industry on wartime appeals to patriotism and service. The “Great War” was the term generally applied in Europe, especially prior to World War II, to what later became known as World War I. This poster shows that the term was in widespread use already by 1915.

Date Created

Subject Date

Publication Information

Parliamentary Recruiting Committee, London


Type of Item

Physical Description

1 print (poster) : lithograph, color ; 76 x 50 centimeters



  1. Roy Douglas, “Voluntary Enlistment in the First World War and the Work of the Parliamentary Recruiting Committee,” Journal of Modern History 42, number 4 (December 1970).

Last updated: November 14, 2017