The 491st meeting of Henley Probus Club was held at Badgemore Park on Tuesday, 14th November 2023.
This month’s guest speaker was Graham Twemlow, a decorative arts historian who presented a talk entitled “Your Country Needs You – Propaganda Posters of WWI and WWII”. Graham’s extensive materials presented many of the colourful posters used during the wars to encourage recruitment into the forces, protecting the home front and, of course, producing food to feed the nation. The posters illustrated the evolution of phrases we still recall today “Loose lips sink ships”, “Your country needs you”, etc.
Graham had gathered together a mass of materials about government communication in an era long before TV advertising and social media. This included Lord Kitchener’s famous poster saying ‘your country needs you’ but most of the carefully assembled documents were new to members. It provided a fascinating social history at a time of national crisis.
This included not just recruitment to the forces, but minding the home front, guarding secrets and ‘digging for victory’. Graham showed how posters were developed to maximise their impact and appeal whilst not glorifying war or exposing the potential new recruits to all the horrors which lay in store.