Yours Not to Do and Die - Yours But to Go and Buy Victory Bonds, 1918


This World War I poster, showing soldiers holding bayonets and poised to charge, was issued by Canadian authorities to promote the sale of Victory Bonds. The text, “Yours not to do and die - Yours but to go and buy Victory Bonds,” echoes “The Charge of the Light Brigade,” the famous poem of Alfred, Lord Tennyson (1809–92) referencing the Crimean War of 1853–56: “Theirs not to make reply, / Theirs not to reason why, / Theirs but to do and die:” The imagery and words in this poster contrast and draw a parallel between the heroism of the soldiers and the un-heroic but important act of buying war bonds. Canada committed an expeditionary force of 690,000 soldiers to the Allied side in the war and suffered very high casualties: 67,000 killed and 173,000 wounded. To finance its participation in the war, Canada sold interest-bearing war bonds to its citizens. From 1915 to 1919, the Canadian government conducted five bond campaigns. Beginning with the fourth campaign, in November 1917, these loans were called Victory Bonds or Victory Loans. Loans were issued for 5-, 10-, and 20-year periods, in denominations as small as $50. The first Victory Loan was oversubscribed and collected $398 million. The second and third Victory Loans, issued in 1918 and 1919, yielded another $1.34 billion.

Last updated: November 14, 2017