Friday, 26 June 2015

This space is reserved for a fit man

Ballarat Courier of Wednesday, 23 June 1915:

The continuing news of soldiers lost and the conditions in the trenches was making people less enthusiastic about enlisting for the war. This day’s Courier shows the first recruitment poster we've noticed and an accompanying recruitment paragraph from the AIF – Australian Imperial Force.

This isnt a very good impression of the poster from the 100 year old Courier, so we've added the
poster below from the Australian War Memorial collection

According to the Australian War Memorial,
“this poster depicts soldiers lined up with a space reserved for "a fit man". It plays on the viewer's patriotic sense of duty. Recruitment posters were prevalent in Australia throughout the First World War. Australia relied solely on voluntary recruits to serve in the AIF. Compulsory military service, or conscription, for eligible men was in force in Australia from 1911, however, these forces were for home defence and could not be used for overseas service. After the initial enthusiasm of Australian men in 1914, enrolments dropped as stories of the conditions overseas reached Australia."

The poster printed in the Ballarat Courier of 23/6/1915, took up space in the bottom left hand corner of the page.  The entire rest of the page was taken up with the current update of the Casualty List, and brief biographical notes of the many Ballarat and district soldiers ill, wounded, missing or killed. Would you enlist, given that juxtaposition?

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