From the early months of the First World War men perceived to be ‘shirkers’ or cowards were increasingly ostracised. The practice of sending white feathers symbolising cowardice, or shaming men in the street to enlist were commonplace. This worsened as casualty lists grew, bringing the war closer and closer to home. Non-uniformed men backing the war effort or those unable to do so sought ways to promote their contribution to relieve them of the constant fear of public humiliation.
Supported by the government, the men were issued badges marking, at a glance, their willing participation or their unsuccessful attempts at enlistment. Commemorative badges were also introduced for female relatives, reflecting the service and sacrifice made by families. Badges were numbered on the reverse and the names of recipients recorded, though not all records have survived.
Imperial Silver War Badge