In August 1914 Britain had a small regular army, a territorial force and an army reserve. When war broke out Lord Kitchener, the Secretary of State for War, sent what forces he could to France as the British Expeditionary Force (BEF). They were effectively wiped out by the end of 1914. Kaiser Wilhelm II was said to have referred to the BEF as a ‘contemptible little army’ and the few survivors adopted the name ‘The Old Contemptibles’. Kitchener sent the Territorials overseas to garrison the Empire, freeing up regiments of the regular army for service in France. He appealed for volunteers to serve in 'Kitchener’s Army'. Volunteers came from across the Empire as well as from Britain, but even so conscription had to be introduced in Britain in January 1916. Initially restricted to single men between 19 and 41, conscription was soon extended to include married men and 18-year-olds. By the autumn of 1918 men in their late 40s were being called up.
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