Primary Documents - Lord Kitchener's Guidance to British Troops, August 1914

Kitchener: Your country wants you! By the time of Britain's declaration of war against Germany on 4 August 1914 preparations to send a British Expeditionary Force (BEF) to France were well advanced.  Heading the BEF was Sir John French (and later Sir Douglas Haig).

Each British member of the BEF in the early days of the war was handed a document bearing the advice of the Minister of War, the legendary Lord Kitchener (of Khartoum fame).  Certainly reading as somewhat quaint today - as was the case even in 1914 - Kitchener's guidance was intended to ensure that the conduct of the British Army in France did not hinder Anglo-French wartime relations.

Lord Kitchener's Guidance to British Troops

This paper is to be considered by each soldier as confidential, and to be kept in his Active Service Pay Book

You are ordered abroad as a soldier of the King to help our French comrades against the invasion of a common enemy.

You have to perform a task which will need your courage, your energy, your patience.

Remember that the honour of the British Army depends on your individual conduct.  It will be your duty not only to set an example of discipline and perfect steadiness under fire but also to maintain the most friendly relations with those whom you are helping in this struggle.

The operations in which you are engaged will, for the most part, take place in a friendly country, and you can do your own country no better service than in showing yourself in France and Belgium in the true character of a British soldier.

Be invariably courteous, considerate and kind.  Never do anything likely to injure or destroy property, and always look upon looting as a disgraceful act.

You are sure to meet a welcome and to be trusted; your conduct must justify that welcome and that trust.  Your duty cannot be done unless your health is sound.  So keep constantly on your guard against any excesses.

In this new experience you may find temptations both in wine and women.  You must entirely resist both temptations, and, while treating all women with perfect courtesy, you should avoid any intimacy.

Do your duty bravely

Fear God

Honour the King


A 'Tour' was a period of front-line service.

- Did you know?

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