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The Great War (1914-1918) Forum

Recruitment-what age?


Rog123
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Hello,

could someone please clarify what the maximum recruiting age was during 1914-1918 for the British army.I keep reading different accounts that it was 18-38, then when conscription was introduced in 1916 it went from 18-41, but that if you had previous military experience you would be accepted up to age 45 (was 45 inclusive?).Also did the final amendment to the military service act in april 1918 raise the age limit to 50?Surely this would not have produced many conscripts?

Thanks for any info.

Ron

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I was also wondering if the age of conscription was actually raised during WWII in Britain to 50.I have read that this increase in age was part of National service act No.2 (december 1941).Elsewhere, I have read that the age of conscription was 18-41.Am I correct in thinking that the vast majority of the forces (army,Navy,RAF)would have been drawn from the 18-40 age classes and that age groups above would have served principally in the Home guard or served in war-related industries.

I would appreciate some clarification on these issues of conscription both for WWI and WWII.

Thanks alot in advance

Ron

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  • 2 weeks later...

Ron

According to Trevor Royle in "The Best Years of their Lives" which deals with National Servicemen post 1945, but has an historical section on conscription, the National Registration Bill of July 1915 required all men and women aged between 15 and 65 to register. From this emerged the Derby Scheme which required men between 18 and 41 to sign up or attest that they would be called up if needed. In 1916 the Military Service Bill was passed tansfering all attested single men on the register to the Army Reserve and conscription became law in May 1916 with the passing of the National Military Service Act.

In April 1939 Military Training Bill gave the power to call up for military training all men between 20 and 21. The Services still relied mainly on volunteers. In 1941 National Service (Armed Forces) Acts adusted the age range for conscription to 18 - 41, and again in 1941 the upper age was extended to 51.

Tim

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The next paragraph is taken from Martin Middlebrooks book: The First Day On The Somme " One of the most remarkable members of the Army of 1916 must have been Henry Webber. In 1914, Webber was 66 years old, Over 20 years past the army's normal age limit, and his family of four sons and four daughters" etc. It then goes on to say that "Henry Webber went out to France as a Battalion transport officer at the ripe old age of 68". Its on Pg 24 if anybody wants to read the whole paragraph

Conor

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Out of interest, Lt-Col Jasper Myers Richardson was slightly older than Webber, at 69. He was wounded on the Somme in March 1918, and died of wounds at Etaples, where he is buried. He was an RGA officer attached to the Staff. There is a description of him in Charles Douie's The Weary Road.

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Hello,

thanks alot for the reply. I'm sure that soldiers in there sixties were certainly a rarity!Am I correct in thinking that the the majority of the British army would have been aged below forty?Given that the age limit was not raised to 51 until april 1918,most of the army would have been below 41 for most of the war, apart from a few volunteers over that age?

Even when the age limit was raised to 51 there cannot have been that many in the older age-groups (i.e over 41) who went to France before the wars end in November 1918,as they would have had to await call-up and then go through training.

Thanks for any further clarification.

Ron

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