Boy Soldiers in the First World War

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A. Plan of Investigation

The purpose of this investigation is to evaluate how allowing underage soldiers to fight affected Kitchener’s Army during the First World War. To examine this, the investigation will focus on the increase of soldiers in Britain’s army, and out of those, how many were under the required recruitment age of 18. Also, the increase in casualties that occurred due to inexperienced, underage soldiers will be assessed. Lastly, the social issues that arose due to young boys being allowed on the Western Front will be examined. The investigation will be conducted using a variety of sources, the main source being Boy Soldiers of the Great War by Richard Van Emden, which will be evaluated for it’s origins, purposes, values and limitations.

B. Summary of Evidence

Increased Enlistment Rates in Kitchener’s Army
During August of 1914, Britain’s Army had approximately 750,000 men −Lord Kitchener (Field-Marshall) needed at least another 500,000 soldiers to fight in the war. −In August 1914, Lord Kitchener started an intense recruitment campaign that used many propaganda posters saying things like “Your Country Needs You” and “A Call To Arms” which encouraged many men and youths to enlist. −By September 1914, over 500,000 men had enlisted to Britain’s Army −It is approximated that a quarter of those soldiers were under the required recruitment age of eighteen. −These boys enlisted for many reasons: to fulfill their own patriotism, to join friends who were also enlisting, or to even get away from their own parents. −By the end of the war, more than a quarter of a million boy soldiers fought for Britain in World War One.

Increased Casualties Due to Inexperienced Underage Soldiers
Many soldiers would become emotionally and physically unstable when facing the horrors of war, and experience “shell shock”. −Especially in underage boys who were not used to witnessing death, soldiers would panic and act hysterically −Many...
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