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Press gangs

Navy and army recruitment in the 17th and 18th centuries was achieved both voluntarily and by coercion

Conscription WW2

From the beginning of the Second World War, men and women were conscripted into military service on an even larger scale

Conscription WW1

Serious shortages of men during the early stages of the First World War gave little option but to impose conscription

Home front

In both world wars the government assumed extensive powers over many aspects of people's lives

French threat

Britain's wars against revolutionary and Napoleonic France required huge additional forces to defend the nation from invasion


Parliament has played a vital part in in providing support for the armed forces and shaping how the British have defended their nation in war

Victorian armies

Serious doubts emerged in the mid-19th century over Britain's ability to defend itself

National Service

After the Second World War a system of National Service was retained

Parliament and the First World War