'Kitchener's Mob': myth and reality in raising the New Army, 1914-15

Book chapter


Doyle, P. (2020). 'Kitchener's Mob': myth and reality in raising the New Army, 1914-15. in: Linch, Kevin and Lord, Matthew (ed.) Redcoats to Tommies: The Experience of the British Soldier from the Eighteenth Century Martlesham, UK Boydell & Brewer.
AuthorsDoyle, P.
EditorsLinch, Kevin and Lord, Matthew
Abstract

Popular imagination holds that the volunteer army raised by Lord Kitchener in the opening weeks of the Great War was formed in the wake of a great recruiting campaign; that thousands lined up outside the recruiting offices; and that Kitchener’s Army, as it came to be known, was an army of ‘Pals Battalions’ whose engagement on the Somme in 1916 was to have far-reaching implications for the British nation. There is a further tendency to generalise; to identify the volunteer army as a coherent whole, albeit one collected into battalions raised locally and identified with specific communities. And while there is a large literature that examines matters of recruitment, there are still aspects that need examination, and particularly so since, as Jay Winter has put it ‘The men who joined Kitchener’s armies in 1914-15…lived in what was probably the most class-conscious nation in Europe’ . This essay re-examines the background to and motivations for the volunteer army in 1914, and specifically the raising of battalions in the industrial cities of England – rather than the complex issues relating to Ireland, and the formation of a Welsh Army Corps. While much has already been made of the demography of the first to join ‘Kitchener’s Mob’ in August–September 1914, there has been a tendency to composite the nature of the battalions raised. This has smoothed out the clear distinctions that can be made between the first to join, and those who were carried along within the ‘Pals’ battalions, particularly in relation to social class and regional identity. These matters are examined here.

Year2020
Book titleRedcoats to Tommies: The Experience of the British Soldier from the Eighteenth Century
PublisherBoydell & Brewer
Place of publicationMartlesham, UK
Publication process dates
Accepted30 Jan 2020
Deposited17 Dec 2020
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