On 9 August 1914, as the first troops of the Expeditionary Force embarked for France, the Secretary of State for War, Lord Kitchener, sent the following message to the army. In much the same way that the US army issued Instructions to American Servicemen in Britain 1942, he believed it would encourage good relations with Britain’s ally, France. Extracts from the last three lines of the letter were often incorporated into inscriptions.
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.
Honour the King.