Talk:Recruitment to the British Army during the First World War

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"Pal's battalions" were not unique to the UK in WWI: according to family tradition, when my maternal grandfather volunteered to fight in the American Expeditionary Force with the rest of the prospectors/miners in county, they did so with the ding that they all would be in the same combat engineering unit.

(Feel free to incorporate this in the relevant article.) -- llywrch 21:33 Dec 24, 2002 (UTC)

It's still true in the US military (at least as of a few years ago). You can enlist with a friend with the guarantee that you can serve together, so long as the jobs you apply for are located together. -- Zoe

The US National Guard worked this way in WW2. (Probably still does.) The AIF certainly worked that way. Tannin

Well the point I was trying to make was that the entire group of miners or prospectors in the town -- I have the impression we are talking a company-sized group of men here -- wanted to serve together. Which would be a daunting number of men for a relatively small group of officers -- both COs & NCOs together -- to manage. (Would *you* want to be the outsider commanding 20 men who have been close friends since childhod?)
I'll concede that the US military may still make -- & honor -- a promise like this; there's a lot about the military a civilian like me only knows at second-hand. But the problems that would result from a promise like this makes this me surprised that it happened. -- llywrch 04:34 Dec 26, 2002 (UTC)
It was the rule vs. the exception during the American Civil War, but it changed during the Spanish-American War. -- Zoe

British Conscientious Objectors sentenced to death in WW1[edit]

I would be very interested to know the source of the author's figure of 41 COs sentenced to death. According to both Hansard (HJ Tennant, Under-Secretary for War), 26 June 1916, and The Tribunal, 29 June 1916 (derived from the Friends' Service Committee), the figure was 34. According to the N-CF Souvenir, 1919, the figure was 30 (with no explicit reconciliation with the earlier figure). Whence is the figure of 41 derived - and is a list of precise names available? I have already done much work on a number of the names in both lists.

A less important issue is whether Lloyd George had anything to do with overriding the sentences, rather than previous directive by the Prime Minister, Herbert Asquith.

William Hetherington

Honorary Archivist,

Peace Pledge Union


Is it true that 1 in 4 of the TOTAL male population in Britian served, or just simply 1 in four of those that were liable to serve?( i. e. those of military age). Britian had about 46 million people in 1914, I had always thought that the ratio of the male population that served in WWW1 in Britian was among the lowest of the European powers if not THE lowest. 15:36, 4 August 2006 (UTC)

Gerald Oram's book Worthless Men mentions 75 COs in non combatant units sentenced to death on p48 (none executed) mostly for disobedience. If you have the patience, you can identify them in his companion publication Death sentences passed by military coiurts of the British Army 1914-1924 which lists all men sentenced to death (ISBN: 0953238806)
Roger 20:42, 6 May 2007 (UTC)

Can we have some facts about age, height, weight, fitness requirements ?[edit]

This article really needs some facts about what the minimum age, height, marital status etc was for volunteers, and how physical fitness was assessed. Rcbutcher (talk) 10:04, 29 March 2009 (UTC)

Women's movement[edit]

I believe the section about women's involvement to unencyclopaedic and inaccurate. The piece suggests women marginally supported the movement Suffragettes did Suffragists however, didn't, it needs citation and evidence to support these points - I would do it but I'm writing an essay atm! --Thelostlibertine (talk) 19:11, 19 April 2009 (UTC)

British Army during World War I[edit]

Copied across from British Army during World War I for safe keeping and adding to this article when I have time.

In the early stages of the war, many men, fuelled by promises of glory, decided to "join up" to the armed forces; and the Army increased the number of battalions to cope with this influx of volunteers. Most new infantry battalions were raised within existing regiments; the Northumberland Fusiliers were most prolific, fielding 51 battalions, by the end of the war.[1] However, some new regiments were created, such as the fifth regiment of the Foot Guards, the Welsh Guards, which was created in 1915 in order to complete the national complement of regiments of Foot Guards identified with the nations of the United Kingdom.[2]

In August 1914, 300,000 men had signed up to fight, and another 450,000 joined by the end of September.[3] Recruitment remained fairly steady through 1914 and early 1915, but it fell dramatically during the later years, especially after the Somme campaign, which resulted in 360,000 casualties.[4]

A prominent feature of the early months of volunteering was the formation of Pals battalions, which in some cases formed complete brigades such as the Tyneside Scottish and Tyneside Irish brigades.[5] Pals battalions were whole units recruited from the same town or workplace, such as the Football battalion that became part of the Middlesex Regiment and was formed from professional footballers.[6] Many of these pals who had lived and worked together, joined up and trained together and were allocated to the same units. The policy of drawing recruits from amongst a local population ensured that, when the Pals battalions suffered casualties, individual towns, villages, neighbourhoods, and communities back in Britain were to suffer disproportionate losses. With the introduction of conscription in January 1916, no further Pals battalions were raised.[7]

As a result, conscription for single men was introduced in January 1916, and four months later, in May 1916, it was extended to all men aged 18 to 41.[8] The Military Service Act March 1916 specified that men from the ages of 18 to 41 were liable to be called up for service in the army, unless they were married (or widowed with children) or served in one of a number of reserved occupations, which were usually industrial but which also included clergymen and teachers. This legislation did not apply to Ireland, despite its then status as part of the United Kingdom (but see Conscription Crisis of 1918).[9]

The conscription legislation also introduced the right to refuse military service, allowing for conscientious objectors to be absolutely exempted, to perform alternative civilian service, or to serve as a non-combatant in the army, according to the extent to which they could convince a Military Service Tribunal of the quality of their objection. Around 16,000 men were recorded as conscientious objectors,[10] with Quakers, traditionally pacifist, playing a large role. Some 4,500 objectors were sent to work on farms, which was deemed 'work of national importance';[9] 7,000 were ordered to non-combatant duties as stretcher bearers; and 6,000 were forced into the army, where they were sent to prison if they refused orders.[9] Thirty-five of those imprisoned were formally sentenced to death, although they were immediately reprieved.[9] Of those conscientious objectors sentenced to a term in prison, 10 died while in prison, and over 60 died afterwards as a result of the way they had been treated.[9] Conscientious objectors who were deemed not to have made any useful contribution were disenfranchised for five years after the war.[11]

By January 1916, when conscription was introduced, 2.6 million men had volunteered for service, and a further 2.3 million were conscripted before the end of the war and by the end of 1918, the army had reached its peak strength of four million men.[7]

Women also volunteered for service and served in a non-combatant role, and by the end of the war, 80,000 had volunteered.[12] They mostly served as nurses in the Queen Alexandra’s Imperial Military Nursing Service (QAIMNS), the First Aid Nursing Yeomanry (FANY), the Voluntary Aid Detachment (VAD); and from 1917, in the army when the Queen Mary's Army Auxiliary Corps (WAAC) was founded.[13] The WAAC was divided into four sections: cookery; mechanical; clerical and miscellaneous. Most stayed on the Home Front, but around 9,000 served in France.[13]

The Kitchener poster[edit]

It was recently pointed out in a TV programme that the "Your country needs you" poster was never in fact used as a poster. I am currently far away from my resources, and I merely remark on this as a matter of record Everybody got to be somewhere! (talk) 12:17, 30 August 2013 (UTC)

In fact it proves to be remarkably easy to find evidence of this story see Everybody got to be somewhere! (talk) 12:33, 30 August 2013 (UTC)

August 1914[edit]

and four divisions overseas is incorrect. I do not have the Tuchman book to hand, so can someone check the citation given, please? I would cite

  • James, Brigadier E.A. (1978). British Regiments 1914–18. London: Samson Books Limited. ISBN 0-906304-03-2. 

to back my position, or Conrad. I would like to remove this. Hamish59 (talk) 11:04, 25 August 2014 (UTC)

The Tuchman text is available at Gogle Books. If you can provide cites from other sources that disagree, then you can rewrite the text appropriately so that it is consistent with all provided cites as long as you provide the other cites. Please, no more inserting changes that you "know" are correct without citing them; by doing so you imply to readers that the existing cite supports your changes. Ylee (talk) 17:01, 25 August 2014 (UTC)
The link you provide says "No eBook available". Am I missing something? Hamish59 (talk) 17:09, 25 August 2014 (UTC)