Summary

World War I recruitment poster inscribed 'Australians! Your Country Needs You', 1914-1918. The text is superimposed over a grey-coloured map of Australia.

A similar British recruiting poster was produced by their Parliamentary Recruiting Committee (poster No. 23) in December 1914, with the red title superimposed over a grey-coloured map of Great Britain.

Physical Description

Large poster printed on off-white paper in red and grey. The shape of Australia in grey is superimposed with bold red text; grey border around edge. Small inscriptions at lower edge. Has been stored folded and is deeply creased, with some breaks at creases. Some print has come off onto the opposite side of the paper where it has been folded.

Significance

A graphically-powerful example of a publication to support recruitment in World War I, this poster was printed in Melbourne by Albert J. Mullett, Government Printer for the State of Victoria. Mullett printed a range of World War I recruitment posters during his long printing career. He served as Government Printer from at least 1904, when he printed a map of Norfolk Island (National Library 1752028). He printed a range of works until the early 1920s, then in 1956 his name reappears as Government Printer on a 'Note on some aspects of conciliation and arbitration in the Commonwealth prepared by direction of the Minister for Labour and National Service, RT. Hon. H.E. Holt' (National Library 4174223).

When World War I started, the number of Australian men volunteering to enlist for service was so high that recruitment officers had to turn people away. However, as the war progressed and casualties increased, the number of volunteers quickly declined. Campaigns to encourage men to enlist included posters highlighting obligations to nation and empire, protection of home and family, and support of fellow Australians already fighting. Public parades, talks, recruiting marches, advertisements and banners also supported the recruitment drive. Social pressure added further weight to the cause, with emphasis on the personal qualities that a recruit might exhibit: 'brave' and 'patriotic'; those who did not enlist were described as 'shirker', 'coward' and 'shameless'. Despite these efforts, recruitment remained low, and the Federal Government twice put the issue of conscription to a referendum. Both times it failed. Still, by the end of the war in 1918, 7.9% of all Victorians had enlisted.

More Information