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No WW1 record

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No WW1 record

Postby rich40w » Sat Feb 25, 2017 6:39 pm

My great grandfather was prime enlistment/conscription age being born in 1880 for WW1 but I cannot find and record. Any ideas how I can find out if he did serve and if not, why not?
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Re: No WW1 record

Postby brunes08 » Sat Feb 25, 2017 11:46 pm

There may be a few of reasons that I can think of why you may not find a service record for the 1WW. Firstly, not all the records have survived - some were damaged/destroyed in the 2WW (during the Blitz if I remember rightly). I have one such service record that is charred badly over about a third of all the pages. Secondly, he could have been in a reserved occupation - do you know what his job was on the 1911 census? Thirdly, some refused to fight because they were pacifists - if that was the case there might be an account of a formal Tribunal in a newspaper. Lastly, some men were not considered to be physically fit to serve so may have been exempt. Hope that helps a little.
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Re: No WW1 record

Postby Amazinggrace » Sun Feb 26, 2017 3:35 pm

Brunes08 is right, there are a few reasons why they weren't conscripted. In my family they were miners on both sides.Also the health aspect too. I have heard about one person who was exempt because he was colour blind!
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Re: No WW1 record

Postby ianbee » Sun Feb 26, 2017 4:50 pm

If you are talking about Henry Maslin Whiting
Do you know his address in 1918?
In 1920 he seems to be at 132 Ashted Row, Duddeston, with wife Clara, and a Matthew Posthlethwaite (which was Clara's maiden name)
If - and it is if - they were living at the same address in 1918, then he is not on the Absent Voters list (on ancestry).
Could have been in the army earlier in the war of course, and discharged for some reason before the end.
He was a carter in 1911.
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Re: No WW1 record

Postby rich40w » Fri Mar 03, 2017 1:41 pm

Thank you all for the replies. Indeed it is Henry Maslin Whiting I am investigating and have come to the same conclusions as ianbee; a carter for a local brewery I would not consider to be a reserved occupation but perhaps by 1914-18 he had a new occupation. Family history does not identify any major illness nor pacifist tendency although there is little knowledge of him as he died not long after my father was born. Matthew Postlethwaite is indeed his brother in law who did serve in the war and was badly wounded. In addition my grandfather joined up in 1921 which adds to my thought Henry Maslin was not a pacifist but it would be good to get a steer on what he did during the war.
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Re: No WW1 record

Postby brunes08 » Fri Mar 03, 2017 2:13 pm

Just remembered about another ancestor on my in-laws side - there was no apparent reason why, from the 1911 census, he wasn't conscripted - fit, healthy, unmarried etc . He was, from what I understand from family, working in a small engineering works that changed into manufacturing war materials. Perhaps your ancestor started to do something to aid the war effort at the outset, as opposed to volunteering for service, and therefore wasn't conscripted in 1916.
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Re: No WW1 record

Postby AdrianB38 » Fri Mar 03, 2017 9:46 pm

My understanding is that there was no such thing as a reserved occupation in WW1 (apart from Ministers of Religion) Instead, anyone selected who did not wish to serve - or whose employer did not wish them to serve - had to go before a tribunal and ask for exemption. Exemption might be only for a given time period or not, but could be granted on a number of grounds, including ill health or family situation. See http://www.longlongtrail.co.uk/soldiers/a-soldiers-life-1914-1918/enlisting-into-the-army/the-1916-military-service-act/

The tribunals may well have been given guidance that certain occupations were valuable because I have a feeling that the list of Reserved Occupations in WW2 was supposed to have been derived from WW1.
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Re: No WW1 record

Postby brunes08 » Fri Mar 03, 2017 10:21 pm

Sorry, AdrianB38, but there were reserved occupations in the First World War. Many additional occupations were approved by the War Office on top of the expected ones for important war services. If you have a subscription to a newspaper archive, you will find a very long list of those approved in 1915 - so long that it surprised me - printed in many papers. Many occupations were agreed following application by the Board of Trade.
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Re: No WW1 record

Postby AdrianB38 » Sat Mar 04, 2017 12:31 am

Well, I stand corrected on that - actually, I'm not surprised, because, as I said, I thought that I'd seen a reference somewhere to the WW2 list being based on the WW1 list.

But then I don't quite understand how things worked because I once actually looked at the Military Service Act specifically to see if it had a list of reserved occupations. Not quite sure now, but I think that the text of the Act referred to reserved occupations listed in the Schedule to the Act - but the Schedule was attached and the only such occupation was that of minister of religion.

So either the Schedule could be modified without legislation - and reported in the newspapers - or the list was outside the Act and simply guidance to be used at the discretion of the tribunal.

I'll try to find such a report in FMP tomorrow.

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Re: No WW1 record

Postby AdrianB38 » Sat Mar 04, 2017 1:52 pm

For your info, a notice in relation to the Military Service Act of 1916:
MilitaryServiceAct.jpg
Military Service Act notice
MilitaryServiceAct.jpg (86.87 KiB) Viewed 2835 times


From 2 March 1916, according to this notice, single men and widowers with no dependants, who were aged from 18 to 40 inc, were deemed to have been enlisted - actual call-up into uniform was a later step. Except, that is, for such men who were excepted or exempted.

Note - there are 2 such words of exclusion. The list of exceptions is there in the poster and is taken from the Military Service Act. Exemption was done, it seems, by Local Tribunals, and the Reserved Occupations list appears to have been used by Tribunals to help identify "Men more useful to the Nation in their present employments", who would be exempted

So far as I can see from notices in The Times, there was a reasonable chance that people in vital roles would already be known about - The Times mentions the National Register, which is presumably the WW1 equivalent of the 1939 Register. Such people should not be called up. If they were, then they were to see their employer who should ensure that the call-up was cancelled.

So apologies for my earlier statement that there was no list of reserved occupations per se. Having found the list of exceptions in the Military Service Act, which does not invoke a list, I had assumed that there would be no other list, and just ad hoc decisions made by the Tribunals. Not so - the list(s) were published - frequently.

Acknowledgement is made to the owner of copyright of the image.
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