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Remembered Today:

Enlistment/Called to Colours


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Can anyone please tell me the difference between enlistment and called to colours? My grandfather's WWI service record states that he enlisted into the Cheshire Regiment on 27 November 1915. In his notes about the war he states that he was 'called to colours' on 4th October 1916 at Birkenhead Sessions Court.

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He enlisted in to the army in 27 Nov 1915, at this point he had signed up for service, most likely under the Derby Scheme.

One of the aspects of the Derby Scheme was that a man agreed to serve but the army also agreed to allow the man to go home until he was required for service.

The fact he wasn't called up, to join the army for service, until 4 Oct 1916 would suggest that either he was unfit or he had otherwise obtained a deferment to service - a deferment often occurred due to a man being in a vital industry.

Do you know what his employment was ?


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Under various schemes most notably the Derby Scheme a man would enlist but not enter service at once - he would be placed on the army's reserve list. and could go on working in civilian life as normal. When the Army was ready for him (he was needed and training was available) he would be called up (called to the colours ) and be assigned to a unit and draw his uniform etc.

This was different to being conscripted as he had aready enlisted. If he was in a scheduled occupation he wouldn't necessarily need to go for exception as this would have already resulted in his being starred and his call from the reserve being automatically deferred until the government department responsible for his industry and trade agreed that he was of more use in the Army than industry. This happened to a lot of men in Autumn 1916 as it was determined that there could be a combing out of some industries (such as coal mining) as it was agreed that some men should not have been starred in the first place and were not essential to their industry.

There was a statement in the Lords about this at the time

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Thank you for both replies.

His medical record showed that he was fit when he enlisted and as far as I am aware he did not have any medical problems until he got malaria later during war service.

I can't imagine that his service was deferred due to his civilian occupation. He was a clerk for a cattle food manufacturer.

Seven months before he enlisted his wife had given birth to a child with a disability of which it died 3 months after enlistment but I can't imagine that would be considered good reason for delay.

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The farming industry was one of the scheduled industries that was combed out as more men were needed at the end of the Somme campaign so it's possible that he'd initially been starred and this was later removed.

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