Daddy, what did you do in the Great War?

"Daddy, what did YOU do in the Great War?" was a war recruitment poster from 1915. It was released by the Parliamentary Recruiting Committee, to encourage enlistment in World War I. The poster shows a daughter posing a question to her father: "Daddy, what did YOU do in the Great War?" The artist was Savile Lumley.

Daddy, what did you do in the Great War?
Daddy, what did You do in the Great War?.jpg
AgencyJohnson Riddle & Co
ClientParliamentary Recruiting Committee
Release date(s)1915


There was an extensive recruitment campaign in Great Britain during World War I. Recruitment for World War I was different from prior wars, which had been fought by the regular (professional) army. Samuel Hynes writes that the war was fought on such a scale that "this time there would also have to be a vast recruitment of men like Daddy".[1]

There were 1.4 million new volunteers in 1915, up from 1 million in 1914. 2.34 million Britons, or approximately 30% of military-aged men, had volunteered for military service. Scholars believe the "scale and nature of enlistment in Great Britain and the Dominions suggest the nations' emotional investment in the war". Stéphane Audoin-Rouzeau (fr) and Annette Becker have written that the campaign of mass propaganda, including what they describe as the "guilt-inducing and brutal messages" such as "Daddy, what did YOU do in the Great War?" were not the only contributing factor to these recruitment figures, writing that recruiters "quickly decided that using the latest forms of mass advertising had a negative effect".[2]

The poster played on the guilt associated with not volunteering for wartime service.[3] Karyn Burnham writes that propaganda posters of the time "presented a carefully crafted image of manhood defining 'real' men as those who fought for their families, for King and Country." She cites this poster as an example of an image that was "designed to question a man's sense of self-worth".[4]

War opponents of the time scorned the poster and its shaming message. Robert Smillie, an Irish-born Scottish trade union leader, co-founder of the Scottish Labour Party, and a close friend of anti-war activist Keir Hardie, said that his reply to the question of the little girl in the poster would have been, "I tried to stop the bloody thing, my child."[5]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Hynes, Samuel (1 April 1998). The Soldiers' Tale: Bearing Witness to a Modern War. Penguin. ISBN 978-1-101-19172-9.
  2. ^ Audoin-Rouzeau, Stéphane; Becker, Annette (23 December 2014). 14-18: Understanding the Great War. Farrar, Straus, and Giroux. ISBN 978-1-4668-8778-7.
  3. ^ "Daddy, what did You do in the Great War?". Imperial War Museum. Retrieved 4 February 2015.
  4. ^ Burnham, Karyn (30 April 2014). The Courage of Cowards: The untold Stories of the First World War Conscientious Objectors. Pen and Sword. ISBN 978-1-78159-295-3.
  5. ^ Hochschild, Adam (2011). To End All Wars: a Story of Loyalty and Rebellion. New York: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. p. 151. ISBN 978-0-618-75828-9.