Honouring Honour: Motivation in the Trenches

A little over a century ago, on 19th September 1914, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, David Lloyd George, delivered a stirring call to arms against Germany in the Great War.  Honour was cited as the prime reason to fight.  Lloyd George, who became Prime Minister in 1916, invoked “our honour as a country,” compared to the “national dishonour” of reneging upon treaty commitments to protect Belgium.  He offered a vision of the future in which Britain had scaled “the high peaks we had forgotten, of Honour, Duty, Patriotism, and, clad in glittering white, the great pinnacle of Sacrifice”.  A hundred years on, as we approach Remembrance season again, these principles can appear political posturing.  This article will explore their significance at the time.  And, once realisation of prolonged war had set in, far beyond the hopes of it all being over by Christmas 1914, what motivated men in the trenches to endure and fight on.

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