Initially, men were enthusiastic about enlisting and there was an early rush to sign up. By 1915, however, following heavy casualties in the trenches , the need for more troops emerged. This time, there was a marked lack of volunteers.
Research shows that Devon and Dorset appeared to be sending fewer men than other parts of the country, despite exhortations from the Lord Lieutenant of Devon, Lord Fortescue, who was particularly angry about Devon’s tardiness.
It was Lord Fortescue who was at the forefront of the organisation of recruitment marches.
We would like you to imagine how Jack went to war, from signing up following a recruitment march, to the front line and beyond. The Jack Goes to War Work Sheet in the Resources section, provides you with images and texts for each possible chapter in Jack’s journey to help you create his story.
From the images and text in the Resource section of this task, we want to help you to create Jack’s story.
It is up to you to determine how and why Jack signs up, how he is trained and what kind of experiences he has at the Front. Whether he becomes injured, and returns home to a local hospital, survives the War and goes on to ensure Memorials are built – or whether he is killed – is for you to decide.
The sources provided are to help you make the story authentic. The sources come from press articles from the time, letters, posters and photographs. Most of the sources are linked to the area close to Dartmoor but that is not so for all. Nevertheless, those selected are typical of the events and experiences Jack might have had.
Whilst we have provided you with some starting points you can find evidence from anywhere in the Dartmoor at war archive or from the many excellent websites that exist. You can find some of these in the Task Resources section.
This exercise is ideal for a home study or an extended learning activity.
In schools it can be set through English or History lessons.
Outside school it provides the basis for an interesting story writing activity.
The way the story goes is completely up to you.
The “getting you started”evidence can be found under these headings:
- The day the soldiers came: Jack signing up: Going Deeper IWM, National Archives, BBC history
- Jack’s send off.
- Jack becomes a soldier
- Jack at the front.
We hope you enjoy writing about Jack and hope this study helps you understand something about how the men of Devon experienced this war.