Put Your Back into it and Help to Give the Final Push. Sign the Enlistment Form


This World War I recruiting poster, published in Dublin, Ireland in 1915, shows British soldiers, on the left, and German soldiers, on the right, with each side struggling to push a huge red ball labeled "Victory" over a peak. The Germans wear the spiked helmet, knee-length marching boots, and stone grey overcoat that were based on Prussian tradition and standard in the Imperial German Army. The British soldiers are identifiable by their khaki uniforms and trousers with puttees. Having learned the value of camouflage and drab colors in a series of colonial wars, the British Army was the first to clothe its troops in khaki. The puttee, consisting of a long narrow piece of cloth that was wound tightly around the lower leg, was also a colonial innovation, having been adopted by soldiers serving in British India in the 1890s. (Puttee is adapted from patti, the Hindi word for bandage.) Allusions to sports were common in recruiting posters, and the illustration here alludes vaguely to the game of rugby.

Last updated: February 10, 2014