UK War Poster

"On each landing, opposite the lift-shaft, the poster gazed from the wall.
It depicted simply an enormous face, more than a meter wide:
the face of a man of about forty-five,
with a heavy black moustache and ruggedly handsome features."

I have often wondered whose face Orwell used as the model for Big Brother in the posters splattered all over Oceania. I kind of thought it could have been of Stalin but somehow that didn't make sense to me because Stalin's face would have been the model for Eurasia, and Mao's the model for Eastasia. But now that a reader has brought my attention to the poster of Lord Kitchener I think HE was the model in Oceania. And describing Kitchener's face, as he so accurately does, would have been another one of Orwell's hundreds of insider jokes that he has scattered throughout all his books.

And it would have been another way for Orwell to have redeemed himself for having - as a young, naive child - been duped by the man himself. (Yes, Orwell was at one time naive, albeit only for a very short period of time).

The reason I say that Orwell was duped by Kitchener is because when he was 11 years old he wrote his own little version of "a call to arms", inspired no doubt by Lord Kitchener's call to arms at the beginning of WWI. His poem was published in the local newspaper and is actually the first of Orwell's writings ever published, although at that time he was still Eric Blair.


Oh! give me the strength of the Lion
The wisdom of Reynard the Fox
And then I’ll hurl troops at the Germans
And give them the hardest of knocks.

Oh! think of the War lord’s mailed fist,
That is striking at England today:
And think of the lives that our soldiers
Are fearlessly throwing away.

Awake! Oh you young men of England,
For if when your country’s in need,
You do not enlist by the thousand,
You truly are cowards indeed.

Henley & South Oxfordshire Standard
October 2, 1914

Then, to add insult to injury, Orwell wrote ANOTHER poem in honour of Lord Kitchener two years later when he was 13 years old:


No stone is set to mark his nation’s loss
No stately tomb enshrines his noble breast;
Not e’en the tribute of a wooden cross
Can mark his hero’s rest.

He needs them not, his name untarnished stands,
Remindful of the mighty deeds he worked,
Footprints of one, upon time’s changeful sands,
Who ne’er his duty shirked.

Who follows in his steps no danger shuns,
Nor stoops to conquer by shameful deed,
An honest and and unselfish race he runs,
From fear and malice freed.

Henley & South Oxfordshire Standard
July 21, 1916

It wasn't too long after the publication of his second poem that Orwell started realizing that war was a racket, and although he never lost his respect for his fellow-Etonians (and the millions of other young men) who died and were wounded in war, he certainly lost his respect for the "old men" who sent them there.

And one of those men very much responsible for sending millions of boys off to die in WWI was Lord Kitchener. Here's how he's described in Encyclopedia Brittanica:

Horatio Herbert Kitchener
was born to English parents in County Kerry, Ireland,
on June 24, 1850.
He was educated at the Royal Military Academy at Woolwich, England
and died June 5, 1916, at sea off Orkney Islands...
With his poster appeal in World War I
- "Your country needs you" -
Herbert Kitchener, British field marshal and secretary of state for war,
assembled and organized one of the mightiest armies
in his country's history.

It occurs to me that it may have been Lord Kitchener's YOUR COUNTRY NEEDS YOU poster (shown above) and the other version BRITONS WANTS YOU that inspired the most famous poster in the world UNCLE SAM WANTS YOU.

In any event, no doubt in the very near future we'll see both the UK and the USA (and every other "free" nation) take those old posters out of storage and use them to dupe present-day boys AND girls into heading off to war to, as Jonathan Swift said, "kill in cold blood as many of his own species, who have never offended him, as possibly he can." ~ Jackie Jura

Reader sends the following summary drawn from BBC website of Historical Figures:
Lord Kitchener, best known for his famous posters of "Your country needs you", was Secretary of State for War at the begining of World War 1. He organised armies on an unprecedented scale. His high ranking military history dates from 1886 when he was "Governor of The Red Sea Territories" to his death in 1916 when HMS Hampshire was sunk by a German mine whilst taking him to Russia. During these years Kitchener held many positions of high office in British military history and had great power and influence in the world. He was "Commander In Chief" of the Egyptian Army in 1892, "Commander in Chief of The Boer War" in 1900 where he burnt farms and herded women and children into "concentration camps". In 1902 he was "Commander In Cheif of India", in 1911 he became "Proconal of Egypt and Sudan" until August 1914. When WW1 broke out in 1914 he became "Secretary of State for War". He created what was then known as "Kitchener's Armies".


ORWELL'S BOYHOOD HOMES and GULLIVER DESCRIBES BOMBS & WAR and MAMA'S DON'T LET YOUR BABIES and 12.Ministry of Peace (War) and 11.Ministry of Plenty and 35.The Brotherhood

Jackie Jura
~ an independent researcher monitoring local, national and international events ~