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Is there any difference between the above two terms?

My g-g-fathers service record papers show attestation papers at Stamford Lincs (Army form E 501), but later in his file on his medical history (Army Form B 178) shows enlistment at Peterborough.

Both refer to the same date.

Any ideas?



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Jim - "Attestation" was one of the the provisions of the Derby Scheme. This was a sort of last ditch plan which it was hoped would avoid the need for full conscription. In many quarters conscription was not a welcome option because it was considered "un-British." The Derby Sceme was introduced after the flood of voluntary enlistments of 1914-15 had dried up to a trickle. It was aimed at men who were willing to serve if needed, but who were unwilling to just drop everything and join up there and then.

It allowed a man to declare a willingness to join the forces should he be required at a later date. When a man had attested, he would be sent home and called up when he was needed.

There's a very complete description of the scheme on Chris's Mother-Site HERE.

As to why your soldier appears to have attested and enlisted on the same day, I'm not sure. I believe that voluntary enlistment ceased soon after the Derby Scheme was introduced. Perhaps the only way of getting in straight away after that was to attest and enlist on the same day. Hopefully someone with greater knowledge of the system will help us out here.


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Attestation predates Derby and was part of the routine whereby a man came in off the street, was 'recruited', medically examined, passed fit, 'attested' to the truth of his age, previous service, marital status, citizenship etc, and was then enlisted. It was not unusual for attestation and enlistment to be separate, but always in that order. At any stage up to enlistment the contract could be broken.

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On CEF attestation papers there are five places for dates and signatures, as follows:

1. Declation to be made by the man on attestation

2. Oath to be taken by the man on attestation

3. Certificate of Magistrate

4. Certificate of Medical Examination

5. Certificate of Officer Commanding Unit

A typical example is 69638 Pte.William McAusland, born in Glasgow, who enlisted in the 26th New Brunswick Battalion. He signed the first two (his oath and declation) on Nov.19,1914. The Magistrate's signature is Nov.22, as are the signatures of the Medical Officer and finally the CO.

In determining the exact date a soldier "joined the army", would McAusland have joined on Nov.19 or Nov.22?

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Thanks for the answers guys.

Appreciate the definitions of the different terms and procedure involved.

My g-g-father was a pre-war territorial attesting on 23 Feb 1911 at Stamford (shown on the bottom of his form E501).

The form reads "TERRITORIAL FORCE."

"4 years' Service in the United Kingdom"


And then goes into the questions which are very similar to the Canadian examples online.

A second page in his file (perhaps the back to the above form?) refers to his Medical Inspectation Report, and is dated two days later, but also at Stamford.

On another page the date again appears as "service reckoned from".

As the two towns are but a short train ride apart (about 10-20 mins) maybe he was packed off to enlist the same day...

Anyway, thanks again.


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