learning activity

Naval Might

HMS Dreadnought

Britain as an island nation felt itself justified in maintaining a large naval fleet. In its thinking, it accepted Germany’s need as a land-based country to support a large army. However, when Germany began to increase its naval forces, Britain took on the challenge. Enormous amounts of money were spent to build new warships. Britain’s first modern battleship, the Dreadnought, took to the seas in 1906. Germany wasted no time in building a similar battleship and the race to control the seas began. With the naval race in full acceleration, tension between the two superpowers increased.

While the First World War might bring to the forefront images of raging trench fighting and battle encounters, the war was also fought on oceans, seas, and rivers. Countries, including the United States, recruited men specifically for their naval fleets. The illustrations shown on the next page are a few of many campaign posters created for the U.S. Navy. If you find yourself interested in learning more about the marine portion of the First World War, you may want to research and prepare a report on any of the topics listed here: 

Further Investigation: The Maritime War 
  • The Austro-Hungarian Danube Flotilla
  • The Austro-Hungarian Submarine Force
  • The British Grand Fleet
  • The Imperial Russian Navy
  • The Royal Canadian Navy
  • The United States Navy 
Your report can be supported by illustrations of battleships, synopsis of battles and other encounters (for example: the sinking of the Lusitania), reports on personalities and maps showing location of confrontation.

Naval Recruitment

Activity and Further Investigation: Navy Recruitment

The three posters above were commissioned by the U.S. Navy to get recruits. The first two were issued during the war, and the third just after the war. Political posters can also be called propaganda posters. Propaganda falls into many different types. Some, but not all of them are: appeal to authority, bandwagon, euphemism, fear, glittering generalities, logical fallacies, name-calling, obtain disapproval, plain folks, rewards, scapegoating, stereotyping, testimonial, transfer, and use of “virtue” words. Take time to see if you can define each of these types of propaganda before you complete the activities below. Use the three poster examples above to answer the questions below.  

  1. How would you define propaganda?
  2. How does propaganda work on an individual’s emotions and spark a desired behavior?
  3. Is propaganda used only in troubled times? Provide examples of your thinking?
  4. Define in your own words the different categories of propaganda. Refer to the Internet Resources in the Bibliography to check your ideas or use a dictionary.
  5. What type(s) of propaganda is used in the first two posters, “Only the Navy Can Stop This” and “The Sword is Drawn The Navy Upholds It!”?
  6. What emotions are elicited from the third poster, “A Wonderful Opportunity for You?”
  7. Research First World War posters. Try and locate as many different types of propaganda employed. Posters were created not only for recruitment but for other activities associated with the war (i.e., increased production, helping on the home front, redefining the role of women, medical needs, etc.). Britain, France, and Germany also produced a variety of posters. Check the Internet Resources section in the Bibliography to help get you started on this activity. You might want to print the various posters and provide an analysis for each illustration.