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The Great War (1914-1918) Forum

Remembered Today:

1/6 South Staffs soldier to munitions worker


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A relative of Harold Eccleston contacted me via my website, prompting me to research him further.

3004/240595 Harold Edwin Eccleston

1/6th Battalion, the South Staffordshire Regiment

His service records are on Ancestry, and run to ~20 pages.

A full transcription can be found here

He volunteered in September 1914 and suffered various wounds and sickness during his service with the 1/6th Battalion, but there are two items that appear unusual to me, but may be more common.

Any information on these are welcome:

1. He was promoted to L/Cpl., then Cpl., but later requested to revert to Pte.

2. During September 1917 his employers, the Clyno Engineering Company, requested his release for munitions work, under the Army Reserve Munition Worker scheme, and this was granted. His records reference the correct forms for this transfer (W [A} DR3, W DR3, Certificate Z DR3, a statement from harold that he has no injuries as a result of his service etc.). He was transfered to Class W(T) TF Reserve on 1st November 1917, and disembodied 14/12/1918.

How common was this?

How would a company select Soldiers to recall? (Harold left 10th September 1914, and returned more than three years later!)



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The LLT provides the following information:

Class W Reserve and its Territorial Force equivalent Class W(T) were introduced in June 16 by Army Order 203/16. They were ‘for all those soldiers whose services are deemed to be more valuable to the country in civil rather than military employment’. Men in these classes were to receive no emoluments from army funds and were not to wear uniform. They were liable at any time to be recalled to the colours. From the time a man was transferred to Class W, until being recalled to the Colours, he was not subject to military discipline.

Class T Reserve was introduced in October 16 by Army Order 355/16. There was no Territorial equivalent. Class T consisted of men in about 30 specific skilled trades (almost all industrial/munitions related) who would otherwise have been transferred to Class W. Terms and conditions were as for Class W.

I do not think that it is possible to quantify the numbers involved. There was a constant struggle throughout the war between the rank and file of the ASE on the one side and the unholy alliance of trade union officialdom, the employers and the state on the other over the isue of dilution. Part of the vidictive response of the state to the nationwide strike in engineering in March/April 1917 was to accelerate the conscription of the strikers which created a shortage of skilled and semi skilled workers in the engineering/munitions sector.



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