A Volunteer War

Catriona Pennell

in A Kingdom United

Published in print March 2012 | ISBN: 9780199590582
Published online May 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780191738777 | DOI:
A Volunteer War

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  • Modern History (1700 to 1945)


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This chapter looks closely at the importance of volunteerism in the British experience of ‘entering’ war and, in particular, questions whether enlistment to the army was indicative of enthusiasm for war. Without conscription, the tiny British Expeditionary Force had to be supplemented by volunteers. This raises a series of important questions—what was the chronology of recruitment? Why did men volunteer? What factors encouraged or discouraged them? How did the experience of volunteering affect women, parents, and children? What was the geography of recruitment? These questions can only be answered in the light of the themes raised in previous chapters—the national cause, the enemy, and the violence of the war as imagined and encountered.

Keywords: volunteering; chronology; recruitment; rural; urban; enlistment; communities; motivations; reactions; enthusiasm

Chapter.  10140 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Modern History (1700 to 1945)

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