25 February 1916 – Air Raids boost RFC recruitment

The British authorities have been attempting to use the German air raids as a recruiting tool. Official posters such as “Remember Scarborough” and “It is better to face the bullets than be killed at home by a bomb” were supplemented by newspapers cartoons such as the Daily Chronicle’s “Vow of Vengeance”
However, the impact of these seems to have been limited. The voluntary “Derby Scheme” in the autumn of 1915 had also failed to produce enough men and the British Parliament had passed the Military Service Act on 27 January 1916 introducing conscription.

The National effect of the Zeppelin raids may have been limited, but they certainly had a local impact. Local newspapers in Staffordshire reported in February 1916 that the raid of 31 January 1916 on various towns in the Midlands has had a “stimulating effect upon recruiting in some of the Staffordshire towns”. The report stated that “in one district sufficient recruits have been obtained since the occurrence to form nearly a couple of companies. By contrast, in the same district prior to the raid recruiting was at a very low ebb.”

In another locality, recruitment had increased substantially by 50%; whilst in a third a whole company had been raised in one week alone. The newspaper noted that “many men who have paid a visit to the areas in which the damage was caused have enlisted immediately”. Interestingly 75% of the recruits applied to serve with the Royal Flying Corps.


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