Channel 4 Learning

War Game (ages 9–14)
Programme Outline
Background Information
The Call to Arms
Pals Battalions
War and Peace
The Christmas Truce
Playing the Game
Goodbye to All That
Still Making the Headlines
TV Transmissions
Curriculum Relevance
Print Version
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Background Information

The Call to Arms

The British Army was comparatively and dangerously small in number when the European war broke out in August 1914. A call from the Secretary of State for War, Lord Kitchener, for young men to volunteer for military service alongside relatives and friends was answered enthusiastically by 100,000 men, giving rise to the formation of 'Pals (or Chums) Battalions'.
The youth of Britain were motivated by a patriotism gilded by camaraderie, the attraction of uniform, the promise of regular, paid employment and the excitement of travel. The celebrated boxer and Great War

poet, Julian Grenfell, enthused: 'I adore war. It's like a big picnic without the objectlessness of a picnic. I have never been so well or so happy […] Here we are in the burning centre of it all, and I would not be anywhere else for a million pounds and the Queen of Sheba.'


Lord Kitchener appeared on posters appealing for young men to join the British Army.