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Remembered Today:

Reserved occupation


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I was looking on the main site about conscription, and read:

'A system of appeals tribunals was established, to hear cases of men who believed they were disqualified on the grounds of ill health, occupation, or conscientious objection.'

I have heard of men being in a reserved occupation, but have never known how this was decided.

Bob

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I was looking on the main site about conscription, and read:

'A system of appeals tribunals was established, to hear cases of men who believed they were disqualified on the grounds of ill health, occupation, or conscientious objection.'

I have heard of men being in a reserved occupation, but have never known how this was decided.

Bob

Bob

The same tribunal was used in all cases. This Military Service Tribunal would decide if you ended up in the army on not. Conscientious Objection was one reason to stay home, and doing "important" work was another. The man himself could apply to be exempt, but more often than not his employer did so. Some funny ideas about what could exempt you from the fighting too.

I believe that I have mentioned in the forum before about the man from Brighton who worked in a gents outfitters. His employer asked that the man be exempt from call up because all of the rest of his pre-war staff were in the forces, and had been replaced by women. The man in question was the only person left in the shop who could take customers inside leg measurements!

During WW1 those in reserved occupations were known as "Starred Men". You will probably find more information if you put that into a search engine.

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There were actually two classes of 'reserved occupation' (and this applied also in WW2).

The first class was of men who could apply - or whoe employer could apply for them to be exempt. School teachers are an example. But they could volunteer to give up their exemption.

The other class was those whose work was deemed to be 'equivalent to the armed forces', and they were simply not allowed to even volunteer.

In WW2 my father was in the naval Stores Department (now RNSTS) and as he was over 21 (the magic age) he was deemed to be an essential worker and not allowed to volunteer. In fact, he was not even allowed to join the Home Guard. He remained in civilian clothes - although doing the same job as if he had been in the RAOC - which caused him to be given white feathers and, of course he got no privileges associated with being a serviceman - use of Red Cross facilities when travelling, etc. It was, thus, an embarrassing status.

When I worked for the same department there was one senior officer there who had also served throughout the war, and he showed me a letter from the Naval recruitment department, telling his director in no uncertain terms to tell this chap to stop volunteering as he was in an essential job and it was just wasting their time!

He was in Malta during the siege and manned a Lewis gun on the roof of his office.

Pretty good stuff for a mere pen pushing civil servant (in fact, when he recounted his tale to a committee looking into using civilians in war zones in the late 1960s, they crept away and little more was heard of them).

If in WW1 or WW2 any member of a civil service department intimately connected with the forces, went to a position where they were likely or possibly subject to capture, they would go into uniform and into the appropriate list. I was officially Lieutenant Commander RNR (Special Duties).

In WW1, the system was slightly different , but the same in the end. You could be forbidden to join the services (and you still got white feathers).

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I had heard that mining was a reserved occupation, but have come across numerous references to miners serving.

marc

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For some reason that I don't know it was deemed by 'them' that if you were under 21 you were dispensable, and if you were over 21 you were indispensable.

Thus, someone under 21 could volunteer or be called up.

In some circumstances, an under 21 could be deemed indispensable. For example, if he was serving on a supply ship, or if he was in a battle zone - as the ex-colleaugue in Malta was. In this particular situation (which didn't affect many people, of course) things were sometimes a bit wobbly, but that was the general rule.

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Thanks Healdav

That's a bit of a mad view on things!

I have often wondered why my Grandfather wasn't called up for WW2 as he was born in 1923 and would have been 18 in 1941 so could have been called up then. he was a cinema projectionist in Bristol from the age of 14 until he got married in 1948 when he back to Wales. His employer might have objected?

Thanks again

Kathryn

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I didn't mean that this 21 years old related to everyone. As far as I know it only related to those who were in jobs 'deemed equivalent to active service'.

Mind you,perhaps cinema projectionist was essential. I wouldn't know.

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