Kitchener's Army

Unit British Army
Accession Number ART03605.020.002
Collection type Art
Measurement backing sheet: 45.5 x 28.8 cm; image: 12.5 x 7.5 cm
Object type Drawing
Physical description pencil on paper
Place made Malta
Date made September 1915
Conflict First World War, 1914-1918

Item copyright: AWM Licensed copyright


A figure study of a soldier from Kitchener's Army wearing an ill-fitting oversized uniform and a topee hat several sizes too big. Kitchener's Army, or the New Army, revolutionised the British military. For the first time, the nation and its people was committed to a massive land force fighting against other powers of Europe, with the Royal Navy playing a secondary, but nonetheless important, role.

Initially, Kitchener's Army was an all-volunteer army formed in the United Kingdom following the outbreak of First World War, upon the recommendation from the then-Secretary of State for War, Horatio Kitchener. In theory, new recruits were to be sent to their Regimental depot, where they would receive their kit and be given an introduction to army discipline and training, before being sent to the main training camps to join a battalion. In reality, however, no Regiment was stocked with adequate equipment, or enough manpower to train the flood of recruits, men were trained in their own clothes and shoes. Some were issued with old stored uniforms, including First Boer War vintage red jackets. It is likely that the serviceman in Benson's sketch is one of these recruits, wearing an old uniform with the cuffs rolled up and the topee helmet pulled down over his eyes.

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