First World War Interesting facts about WWI

From Civilian To Soldier

After the outbreak of war in August 1914, Britain recruited a huge volunteer citizens’ army. In just eight weeks, over three-quarters of a million men in Britain had joined up.

Every volunteer had to undergo a series of medical and fitness tests before being accepted as a soldier. New recruits were then given months of basic training in camps all over the country where they learned to be soldiers. New officers learned to lead their men.

The Army was unprepared for the stampede of volunteers wanting to fight, and men were often rushed through the official process for joining up. Conditions in training camps were often basic and supplies of equipment were limited.

Here are some of the actions civilians had to take to become a First World War soldier in 1914.


Join the queue

Recruits at the Central London Recruiting Depot, New Scotland Yard, August 1914.

After the outbreak of the First World War, recruiting offices were besieged by volunteers. Public buildings were turned into new offices across the country. Administrative and medical staff were found to work in them and process the thousands of men eager to fight. This photograph shows the queue outside the Central London Recruiting Depot at New Scotland Yard in August 1914. Some areas experienced such a rush that they sent men away with an appointment to come back another day. Although most men waited patiently for their turn, there were reports of queue jumping and mounted police being sent to control the crowds.