Britain and her Empire go to war against Germany and her Allies.

On the 4th August, Britain declared war on Germany.

Britain had sent an ultimatum telling Germany to take its soldiers out of Belgium, and giving them a deadline. But Germany didn’t respond.

Britain didn't go into the war alone. She had an Empire made up of lots of countries. Now all of those countries were brought into the war too, including Canada, Australia, South Africa, New Zealand, India and nations in Africa.

There were mixed feelings about going to war, but within a short period of time the majority of people accepted that the decision was the right one. Many were over-confident, believing that the German threat could be dealt with rapidly and that war would be over soon. Young men rushed to sign up to join the army, many of them with romantic ideas about having the chance to prove themselves on the battlefield. By December 1914, 62,000 Welshmen had been recruited.

External Resources

A recruitment advertisement in the newspaper Herald Cymraeg
See a range of propaganda posters here
See a range of propaganda posters here

This image shows young men queuing up to enlist in Cardiff. However, scenes such as these were short-lived. Only in the first weeks of the war was there a rush to join up, and only in certain parts of the country. In most rural areas the recruitment rate was very low at the beginning of the war. (This resource is the copyright of the National Library of Wales and is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike licence

British recruits gather in central London at the outbreak of war. Like thousands of young men across Europe, many saw the conflict as a great adventure.

Some of the first British soldiers to set off for France board their train. Britain had a small professional army at the start of the war, which grew as young men eagerly signed up to fight. But the new recruits needed to be trained first. Later in the war it became more difficult to persuade men to join the army - they knew by then how horrible the fighting was - so Britain had to introduce conscription.

A humorous cartoon. The man in the waistcoat is called John Bull - he represents Britain. He is wagging his finger at a very small Kaiser Wilhelm, telling him off for starting the war. In the background you can see the British military. The British people were told that the war would be over by Christmas, that Germany would be easily defeated...