Conscription and Tribunals

Poster calling for single men to enlist or apply for exemption before the Military Service Act comes into force on 2 March 1916

Poster calling for single men to enlist or apply for exemption before the
Military Service Act comes into force on
2 March 1916
Wikimedia Commons

As 1915 wore on it became apparent that the number of volunteers for the army was declining and insufficient to fill the ranks of Kitchener’s new armies and replace increasingly heaving casualties.  To ward off conscription, Lord Derby proposed a compromise scheme in autumn 1915 whereby men of military service age, who were not in a ‘starred’ (or essential) occupation, could attest their willingness to serve when called upon.  Under the Derby scheme those who came forward were divided into 46 classes: single men aged 18 to 40 were placed in the first 23 classes, and married men in the remaining 23 classes.  Classes were to be called up in order.  In districts and boroughs tribunals were set up to assess applications for release from army service by men who had attested but felt unable, through circumstances, to serve when called up.  An Appeal Tribunal covering Surrey and Croydon was also set up, along with a National Tribunal, which met in London.  The scheme failed to meet its objective: 38 per cent of single men and 54 per cent of married men publicly refused to enlist.

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Hermann Mardus

A man of German parentage living in Surrey

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Milford - 1915

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