About the film archive
Learn about the history behind our documentary film archive from the 1940s.
Featuring footage of World War One and military training manoeuvres of all kinds, Britain Shoulders Arms explores the British army as it modernises and goes to war.
The re-birth of the British Army
'After the Great War of 1914-1918 Britain was left with one predominant desire - to live in peace. Fifteen years later, however, world-stirring events brought a new threat to democracy and a new spirit became evident at the Ministry of War. The ranks of the Regular Army were expanded by an intensive recruiting campaign. As the war-clouds gathered Britain forsook the traditional system of voluntary recruiting and adopted compulsory service, thus ensuring that if the need arose a vast army could rapidly be set on the march.
When war did break out, the Army was ready, and it was able to embark for service overseas with efficiency and confidence.'
(Films of Britain - British Council Film Department Catalogue - 1940)
All films are subject to the Creative Commons licence guidelines.
Learn more about how to use to the film archive.
Keep up to date with the latest film news from the British Council.