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Bart150

Volunteering procedure 1914-15

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Bart150

 

I have always had the impression that volunteering for the army in 1914-15 was a one-stop process. A man turns up at a recruitment office. All being well, he goes through medical and attestation procedures there and then. When he walks out a couple of hours later he is legally in the army.

 

A newspaper today reports the sale of a man’s diary and other documents.

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-5531287/First-World-War-soldiers-Western-diary-comes-light.html

 

One of these documents (item 5) is army form B2565A. This implies that volunteering was a multi-stage process:

1, The man turns up at a recruitment office and gives his details.

2, Soon after or possibly on the spot, he receives form B2565A telling him to report at the recruitment office again on a certain date.

3 On that date he comes and goes through the attestation procedure. Only after that is he legally in the army.

 

So was it normally a one-stage or multi-stage process?

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clive_hughes

The Regular/New Army attestation forms contained a question "Did you receive a Notice, and do you understand its meaning, and who gave it to you?"  The Territorial version likewise had the question phrased "Have you received a notice stating the liabilities you are incurring by enlisting, and do you understand them?". 

 

5ab507f69664f_RecruitingNotice1914.jpg.4da22c5eac1c7d6629ad3f1c87d9cc1a.jpg

 

It seems to have been standard that such a Notice form was handed to an intending recruit, but what happened next might have varied somewhat.  Some men needed to sort out work or domestic matters before they left, and asked for a day or two's grace to see to this before they departed for wherever their unit was.  Others might have had a chance to read and digest the document, but needed little more delay before they were taken before a magistrate or other qualified officer to be sworn in.  

 

There is a photo of civilian recruits in 1914 lined up outside a magistrates court either about to be, or having just been, attested.  Many of them have their overcoats, small suitcases or bags etc. with them,  ready to go off to wherever they would be sent as soldiers.  

 

Those who were told to turn up would likely go back to the recruiting office on the given date/time, and after being attested (and received their King's Shilling plus a day's allowance payment of 9 pence) receive a rail warrant and be shepherded to the station.  Otherwise it wasn't unknown for recruits to leg it after getting the cash, and try again under a different name somewhere else...

 

I think this is  what was advised at the time but will check it out later.

 

Clive

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BIFFO

If  a territorial force who were about to go abroad would they  have to sign a form?,

if yes what would be the form  number what would it say ,

if the territorials unit moved overseas and he refused to sign 

what would happen to him ?

would he be kept back for home service

:poppy:

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ss002d6252
6 minutes ago, BIFFO said:

If  a territorial force who were about to go abroad would they  have to sign a form?,

if yes what would be the form  number what would it say ,

Pre-military service act, yes.
Form E624
image.png.778e5b7ef7e8b6e7b7f07f1f24ab9f00.png

Craig

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ss002d6252
Quote

if the territorials unit moved overseas and he refused to sign 

what would happen to him ?

would he be kept back for home service

He would have remained on home service (until the option was done away with).

Craig

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clive_hughes

Hi Biff,

relevant form kindly pictured above by Craig.  The TF weren't obliged to offer themselves for "Imperial Service" as it's called and in 1914-15 a lot signed up for Home service.  The option was withdrawn for new recruits in March 1915, I understand. 

 

But unless the Home Service men changed their mind and said they wanted to go after all, I gather the legal situation after May 1916 (when the second Military Service Act was passed) was that if they still refused to sign up they should be discharged.  This would have made them liable to be conscripted anyway, so not much of an option unless they could appeal to their local Tribunal on the usual grounds.  Having said that, it seems in quite a few units their commanding officers just assumed they were now no longer allowed to refuse, and just sent them abroad (unless unfit for such service).

 

Clive

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BIFFO

thank you chaps,that's cleared that up for me at least  :thumbsup:

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ss002d6252

1916 has always puzzled me as it seems men started to be discharged to release them from the TF home service agreements (so they could then be conscripted) but then they just seem to have been retained.

 

Presumably there was an instruction issued at some point to just retain them in their units and the discharge/conscription process would simply be administrative.

 

Craig

Edited by ss002d6252

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clive_hughes

Craig,

quite possibly - we'll hope someone can come along to quote chapter and verse on the subject, which otherwise seems based on the whims of any given commanding officer!

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ss002d6252
3 minutes ago, clive_hughes said:

Craig,

quite possibly - we'll hope someone can come along to quote chapter and verse on the subject, which otherwise seems based on the whims of any given commanding officer!

It's certainly a strange one  - it was discussed in Parliament but it appears they soon got over any issues of 'legality' and moved on to other issues.

Craig

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rolt968
3 hours ago, ss002d6252 said:

It's certainly a strange one  - it was discussed in Parliament but it appears they soon got over any issues of 'legality' and moved on to other issues.

Craig

I've been trying to gather what was going on. A number of men from 2 Fife and Forfar Yeomanry appeared before local (Fife and Forfarshire) Military Service Tribunals. As far as I can remember most of them seemed to be on some mysterious kind of leave or detachment. In some cases this was actually to assist on farms but I have begun to think that it was suspiciously convenient.

 

RM

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Bart150

 

Thanks for that, Clive. Here is the picture I’m getting of the normal system for straightforward volunteers - leaving aside special cases, but including major variants:

 

Stage 1 

A man goes a into recruiting office spontaneously. There he is given a cursory medical examination and other simple checks (eg age, criminal record, nationality) are made.

If he passes (ie usually) he is handed Notice B2065A which contains:

- summary of conditions of service;

- his appointment (time and place) for stage 2

 

Stage 2

This entails filling in some forms and formally attesting. There are these major possibilities for time and place of the appointment for this given on the B2065A:

Either A straight away in another room of the same building

or B as quickly as possible the same day in some other place in the same town or nearby (eg in a large town there might be several recruitment offices, but one location such as a magistrates court for all stage-2 procedures)

or C a day or two later back at the recruitment office or in some other place in the same town or nearby

 

Post-Stage 2

The man is legally in the army only after completing Stage 2. There are then these major possibilities:

Either A the man is sent away to a depot immediately

or B the man is given a document (a standard form, I suppose) telling him to report at a certain depot at a certain date

or C the man is told to go home and wait for the document in the post telling him to report at a certain depot at a certain date.

 

The photo you mention sounds interesting. It seems to show men whose B2065A gave them a case-C appointment for Stage 2, and who were then Post-Stage 2 Case A.

But how did they get the foreknowledge that they would be whisked away to a depot immediately, and should therefore bring suitcases?

I don’t think that everybody knew that this was what usually happened, because I have the impression that it wasn't;  the other two Post-Stage 2 possibilities, B and C, were quite common too.

Notice B2065A doesn’t say anything about being sent to a depot immediately after attestation. Therefore I suppose there must have been some other document, used when appropriate, which did (saying, eg, to bring a change of socks and underwear). But I haven’t seen it.

 

Interested to know of any significant refinements or corrections to the above.

Bart

 

 

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clive_hughes

Bart,

I think your Stage 1 & 2 summaries are about right; though they wouldn't have checked a recruit's age - he was the age he stated, and no birth certificate was required at a time when these cost 1 shilling.  If he looked the age he said he was, that was that (subsequent confessions of real age, or complaints from parents etc. might have altered the case - but not on the day, as it were!).  Likewise they would have no easy means to check for a criminal record, as there was no centralised index of crimes and criminals.  Indeed some men it is said enlisted so as to get away from the police.  It was fairly easy to enlist under an assumed name anyway (given as stated that a birth certificate wasn't required).  

 

I've looked up a first-hand account by a 1914-15 civilian recruiter, Coulson Kernahan - Experiences of a Recruiting Officer (London 1915) - and I reproduce the sequence he states should happen:

 

Recruit enters office, and a simple check on his physical state is carried out by eye.  Maybe the recruiter/clerk carries out a simple chest or height measurement, and eye-chart test.  

Same person also asks formal medical questions as to whether the man suffers from fits, rupture, varicose veins.

Army Form B2505A produced - "The Blue Paper" - containing the eleven Questions, Declaration of truth of statements, Oath of attestation, Magistrate's/Recruiter's certificate.  The Questions & declaration at least are completed.   

 

Recruit given Army Form B178, Medical History Sheet, and taken to see medical examiner, who applies the tests and completes the sheet.  If rejected, Recruiter can let the man have the AF B2505A endorsed to the effect that he had volunteered his services but was rejected on medical grounds.  NB "Special Permission" could be sought at times to enlist a man who fell outside the medical parameters.  In the case of youths, it could be argued that they would "fill out" during training and so qualify re. minimum height/chest measurements.  

 

If he passes, he might be attested as soon as convenient.  He would be asked which branch of service he wishes to join, and the recruiter will be aware which are currently open/closed for new recruits.  He might also have to be persuaded to join a different corps if he would clearly be unsuitable (in terms of physique or lack of specialist qualifications) for his first choice.  [NB, recruiters were kept regularly up to date with which corps had vacancies or closures, and were also told which units should be specially recommended to men who hadn't determined where they wanted to go].  

 

The recruit would then get his 1s. 9d. day's pay and allowances (which Kernahan divides as 1s 3d. pay, 6d allowance).  At that point the man would be asked not just where (which unit as above) but when he wants to go.  Kernahan says that towards the start of the war, men were rushed through the process in a day and packed off there and then.  After a while, however, it was commoner for the recruit to respond that he needed a few days to give notice to his employer, or otherwise settle family matters.  A week or more wouldn't be unusual in terms of a notice of resignation.  If already attested, the man would be paid by the Army throughout this intervening period. 

 

Earlier on in the war he might also be given a 10 shillings fee by the Government for the "loan" of his civilian clothes & boots which he would have to train in (and the cost of their return carriage to his home would also be paid by them once uniform was issued).  The day and date of his departure would be agreed, and he would return to the recruiting office by a stated time in order, say, to be sure of a given train to his relevant camp, barracks, or depot.  At the time he returned, he would be given a rail warrant for his journey.  Seemingly if he needed a rail warrant to get back home on the day he enlisted, this could also be arranged.  

 

Other paperwork:  A recruit medically passed would then generate Army Form B2505, a very pale blue/white document, similar to B2505A  with the same details as that.  Two copies were produced, one to go to the Regimental or Corps Record Office, and a Duplicate to follow or precede the soldier to his destination.  The light blue medical Army Form B178 would be included with the Duplicate attestation form.    

 

Army Form D418A in light khaki would be completed, for both married and unmarried recruits, either containing on one side the details of the wedding and any children under 14 years, or any dependants for whom separation allowances might be claimed; or a certificate by the man that there were no such persons.    This would be sent to the Regimental Paymaster for the relevant Command under which his new unit fell.  Apparently a khaki AF B100 would be added to the sheaf on which "Pay Lists" and various final certificates would be entered, but this required no input from the recruit.  

 

The recruit would then be given his "Blue Paper" B2505A above to be presented by him at his Depot, both as ID and to be allowed to enter the site - after which it was of no further value.  NB the rail warrant was exchangeable at the Railway station for a one-way ticket to the relevant destination. 

 

So much for Kernahan; though I'm sure there were many times when things weren't so cut-and-dried, and that the sequence varied somewhat.  But he was someone who carried out the process, so his detailed testimony is valuable.

 

Clive  

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Bart150

Very interesting, Clive. That account doesn’t mention the form B2065A reproduced at the start of this thread. I can guess how it probably fits in. I am now presuming a process with the following structure:

 

Stage 1 

A recruit goes into a recruiting office spontaneously. There he gets a screening intended only to eliminate anybody who is manifestly unsuitable (eg if he has some obvious physical handicap or says he suffers from fits or varicose veins or says he is only 14 or admits he is a criminal or that he has German nationality etc)

If he passes this screening (ie usually) the recruit is handed notice B2065A which contains:

- summary of conditions of service;

- his appointment (time and place) for Stage 2

 

Stage 2

The recruit turns up for Stage 2, identifying himself with his B2065A.

He gets a proper medical examination and, if he passes, ends up with a form B178, documenting his medical history and current state of health, filled-in and signed off by the medical examiner.

 

Stage 3

The recruit turns up for Stage 3, bringing his B178.

He fills in form B2505A; on it he answers various questions to declare his loyalty. Before a magistrate he swears an oath that he means what he has said on the form. The B2505A is signed off by the magistrate.

The recruit is then legally in the army.

 

On the B2065A received after Stage 1 there are these major possibilities for time and place of the appointment for Stage 2:

Either straight away in another room of the same building

Or as quickly as possible the same day in some other place in the same town or nearby (eg in a large town there might be several recruitment offices for Stage-1, but one location for all stage-2 procedures)

Or a day or two later back at the recruitment office or in some other place in the same town or nearby.

After Stage 2 there are these analogous possibilities for the Stage 3 appointment:

Either straight away in another room of the same building

Or as quickly as possible the same day in some other place in the same town or nearby

Or a day or two later back at the recruitment office or in some other place in the same town or nearby.

(However, there seems to be no analogue to B2065A: ie there is no document after stage 2 telling the recruit his appointment for Stage 3).

 

Thus for one recruit all three stages might follow in the same place without a break; he would be in the army within a couple of hours of entering the recruitment office. At the other extreme, another recruit might have to make three separate trips over several days or a week to the same or different offices before he was actually in the army.

 

 

I hope this is not making too many arbitrary assumptions.

 

BTW I’m relying on my memory of the account in John Harris, Covenant with Death, although I don’t have the text with me at the moment.

 

Bart

 

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Magnumbellum

A further detail regarding age. It appears not only that a birth certiciate was not required (for the reason stated), but age (in years and months) was asked, rather than precise date of birth.

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kenf48

I'm not sure you can give a typical account as easily as that, or as linear. 

 

Before the war the Army recruited 30,000 men annually, or around 100 a day across the United Kingdom (including Ireland). 

 

Between the 4 and 8 August the total number attested was 8,193, on Sunday 9 August 2,433 enlisted, almost half that number (1,100) were recruited in London. In the first week existing recruiting offices across the country could not cope many turned up at recruiting offices and Drill Halls for a long and fruitless wait outside.  There were not enough doctors, or clerks to deal with the numbers who wished to volunteer.

By the 2nd September, even in London men were waiting eight hours to enlist, while across the country as a matter of civic pride Mayors had opened recruiting offices in the Town Hall and were using Town Hall staff to process the recruits, with so many recruits there was not only shortage of personnel but the forms ran out.

 

Originally the men were required to have a cold bath before their medical, but the numbers and shortage of doctors meant this requirement was dropped and the medical examination was cursory to say the least.   The civilian doctors recruited to conduct the examination were paid 2/6 for each recruit so the incentive was obvious to do as many as they could as quickly as they could. Some men avoided the medical altogether.

"The system was this 600,700 or a 1000 men went to the depot. The recruiting officer went outside and fell in the party and called the roll and the party was put in the command of an officer, an NCO or civil policeman, whoever was handy and marched off to got to say the 9th Surreys at Shoreham.  Bill Jones in the back row said 'I don't want to go to Shoreham' and before the party marched off 20 or 30 men had changed places with other men who had not been medically examined. '

Lt Col Clay Chief Recruiting Officer London District cited in Kitchener's Army Keith Simkins

 

Around this time on the 27th August George Coppard enlisted in Croydon, the day before he had gone to the recruiting office and given his true age, told to come back when he was nineteen he returned on the 27th and attested 'in a batch of a dozen others, the Sergeant winked when he gave me the King's Shilling plus one shilling and ninepence ration money for that day'. Later that afternoon 'our motley crew of new recruits shuffled off to East Croydon Station' to catch the train for Guildford and Stoughton Barracks, on arrival there was a rush for the canteen and the roll call revealed two or three absentees apparently having taken their 2/9 and scarpered.

 

Elsewhere there were recruitment rallies, which were not always successful but after K1 there was the phenomenon of 'locally raised' or 'Pals'  Battalions as well as the involvement of Territorial Force Associations raising men for both the TF and Kitchener Battalions.  There was quite a lot of 'poaching'.

 

Ken

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r.m.willis
On 25/03/2018 at 23:30, clive_hughes said:

Bart,

I think your Stage 1 & 2 summaries are about right; though they wouldn't have checked a recruit's age - he was the age he stated, and no birth certificate was required at a time when these cost 1 shilling.  If he looked the age he said he was, that was that (subsequent confessions of real age, or complaints from parents etc. might have altered the case - but not on the day, as it were!).  Likewise they would have no easy means to check for a criminal record, as there was no centralised index of crimes and criminals.  Indeed some men it is said enlisted so as to get away from the police.  It was fairly easy to enlist under an assumed name anyway (given as stated that a birth certificate wasn't required).  

 

I've looked up a first-hand account by a 1914-15 civilian recruiter, Coulson Kernahan - Experiences of a Recruiting Officer (London 1915) - and I reproduce the sequence he states should happen:

 

Recruit enters office, and a simple check on his physical state is carried out by eye.  Maybe the recruiter/clerk carries out a simple chest or height measurement, and eye-chart test.  

Same person also asks formal medical questions as to whether the man suffers from fits, rupture, varicose veins.

Army Form B2505A produced - "The Blue Paper" - containing the eleven Questions, Declaration of truth of statements, Oath of attestation, Magistrate's/Recruiter's certificate.  The Questions & declaration at least are completed.   

 

Recruit given Army Form B178, Medical History Sheet, and taken to see medical examiner, who applies the tests and completes the sheet.  If rejected, Recruiter can let the man have the AF B2505A endorsed to the effect that he had volunteered his services but was rejected on medical grounds.  NB "Special Permission" could be sought at times to enlist a man who fell outside the medical parameters.  In the case of youths, it could be argued that they would "fill out" during training and so qualify re. minimum height/chest measurements.  

 

If he passes, he might be attested as soon as convenient.  He would be asked which branch of service he wishes to join, and the recruiter will be aware which are currently open/closed for new recruits.  He might also have to be persuaded to join a different corps if he would clearly be unsuitable (in terms of physique or lack of specialist qualifications) for his first choice.  [NB, recruiters were kept regularly up to date with which corps had vacancies or closures, and were also told which units should be specially recommended to men who hadn't determined where they wanted to go].  

 

The recruit would then get his 1s. 9d. day's pay and allowances (which Kernahan divides as 1s 3d. pay, 6d allowance).  At that point the man would be asked not just where (which unit as above) but when he wants to go.  Kernahan says that towards the start of the war, men were rushed through the process in a day and packed off there and then.  After a while, however, it was commoner for the recruit to respond that he needed a few days to give notice to his employer, or otherwise settle family matters.  A week or more wouldn't be unusual in terms of a notice of resignation.  If already attested, the man would be paid by the Army throughout this intervening period. 

 

Earlier on in the war he might also be given a 10 shillings fee by the Government for the "loan" of his civilian clothes & boots which he would have to train in (and the cost of their return carriage to his home would also be paid by them once uniform was issued).  The day and date of his departure would be agreed, and he would return to the recruiting office by a stated time in order, say, to be sure of a given train to his relevant camp, barracks, or depot.  At the time he returned, he would be given a rail warrant for his journey.  Seemingly if he needed a rail warrant to get back home on the day he enlisted, this could also be arranged.  

 

Other paperwork:  A recruit medically passed would then generate Army Form B2505, a very pale blue/white document, similar to B2505A  with the same details as that.  Two copies were produced, one to go to the Regimental or Corps Record Office, and a Duplicate to follow or precede the soldier to his destination.  The light blue medical Army Form B178 would be included with the Duplicate attestation form.    

 

Army Form D418A in light khaki would be completed, for both married and unmarried recruits, either containing on one side the details of the wedding and any children under 14 years, or any dependants for whom separation allowances might be claimed; or a certificate by the man that there were no such persons.    This would be sent to the Regimental Paymaster for the relevant Command under which his new unit fell.  Apparently a khaki AF B100 would be added to the sheaf on which "Pay Lists" and various final certificates would be entered, but this required no input from the recruit.  

 

The recruit would then be given his "Blue Paper" B2505A above to be presented by him at his Depot, both as ID and to be allowed to enter the site - after which it was of no further value.  NB the rail warrant was exchangeable at the Railway station for a one-way ticket to the relevant destination. 

 

So much for Kernahan; though I'm sure there were many times when things weren't so cut-and-dried, and that the sequence varied somewhat.  But he was someone who carried out the process, so his detailed testimony is valuable.

 

Clive  

 

This something that I have been trying to understand for a while, so thank you Clive for the excellent summary.  There are still one or two missing bits of the puzzle:

1) You mention that some (many) men just upped and left home on the day they enlisted / attested.  What about giving notice for jobs / settling their affairs in order (whatever that means), leaving family and home?  How was that process undertaken and how quickly?

2) What about employers who rejected the request for someone to leave, especially small businesses?  Were they compensated for losing a valuable employee?

3) You mention choosing a regiment - how did this work in reality?

4) I've not seen any information listing skills on the form, so did men just say they worked with horses or were a labourer or had some other skill?

I just don't necessarily believe that one day a man is at home with his family; next day he's on a train to some distant depot without even telling his next of kin he's going.

On 25/03/2018 at 23:30, clive_hughes said:

 

 

 

 

 

 

This something that I have been trying to understand for a while, so thank you Clive for the excellent summary.  There are still one or two missing bits of the puzzle:

1) You mention that some (many) men just upped and left home on the day they enlisted / attested.  What about giving notice for jobs / settling their affairs in order (whatever that means), leaving family and home?  How was that process undertaken and how quickly?

2) What about employers who rejected the request for someone to leave, especially small businesses?  Were they compensated for losing a valuable employee?

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clive_hughes

There are numerous exceptions to any rule, and there were times the "standard" procedure wasn't followed.  I can't be dogmatic about things, but have read a great many personal accounts, as well as some of the official instructions and orders on the subject.  

 

However, some commentators of the period made remarks suggesting that at the very start of the war, quite a few recruits were jobless or in employment where they needn't give extended formal notice: eg. self-employed hawkers, seasonal workers, and so on.  Some simply told their bosses that they were going off to join up - others told them after they'd enlisted (and so in either case, effectively resigned).  This was especially true for those who defied the no-enlistment instructions put out by the Civil Service, Post Office, and Railway companies.  How much notice was given to an employer must have varied: the recruit would know, and presumably asked for that sort of space before turning up for the journey to the depot.  

 

Employers would not be compensated as such: either they lost an employee (and looked for another one), or accepted the fact that the man would be back someday and kept his post for his return - even to the extent sometimes of paying the man the difference between his civil job and Army pay.  Settling one's affairs: aside from the employment side of things, maybe the family had to have help arranged for them, or the Bank told (or other financial issues to be sorted), or any of the various other things one needs to sort out before a protracted absence.  

 

Some did not tell their families because they didn't want their course of action to be stopped, or to be persuaded not to do it.  This would apply to lots of the under-age lads.  It has to be said that I suspect for others, they didn't mind effectively deserting their families.  Wives and children could be walked out on in peacetime, so it probably also happened in wartime.  It is clear that for whatever reason, men were able to join up under an assumed name so that someone, somewhere, wouldn't find them.  

 

But these (and other) scenarios might be unusual, compared to the many volunteers who gave due notice of leaving their work, made their preparations, told their loved ones what was happening, and in due course turned up ready to serve their country.  There's a picture of a group of them standing in lines outside a magistrate's court, either just before or just after being formally attested there.  Some have proper coats and hats and have brought little suitcases or bags, others are just in jackets and flat caps, with no belongings.  I cross that courtyard regularly, and I think of them each time. 

 

Hope this helps

 

Clive 

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Bart150

 

12 minutes ago, clive_hughes said:

There's a picture of a group of them standing in lines outside a magistrate's court, either just before or just after being formally attested there.

 

Clive, do you know for sure that those are the only two possibilities?

Isn’t a third possibility that after attesting they were told to report the following Tuesday at the magistrate’s court where there would be a bus to take them away to the depot?

 

 

 

 

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clive_hughes

Hi Bart,

They're not the only two possibilities; but the RWF Depot is only a mile away so in those days they'd have been marched off afterwards (no buses).  However, if they weren't all RWF volunteers, it is possible that men recruited locally for a different corps might have been separated from the group and marched to the railway station (even less distance away) to await that form of transport to their respective depots. 

 

The courthouse location strongly suggests that they are present for the legal purpose of attestation before a magistrate.   

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Skipman

Not certain this is relevant but it's interesting enough

 

From the Scotsman 28/1/1916 Friday

 

Proclamations are now being posted calling up the third batch of Derby recruits, Group 10, 11, 12, and 13, which consists of bachelors from 27 to 30 years of age. They receive the customary month's leave between the posting of the proclamation and the drafting to their depots, which latter work begins on February 29th. This makes 12 Groups now called up. Numbers 2-5 have already been sent away for training and 6-9 come up on the 8th February. It may be pointed out that claims for exemption should be lodged with the clerk of the Recruiting Tribunal not more that ten days after the posting of the proclamation.

 

Mike

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Bart150

Covenant with Death by John Harris is a documentary novel based on the experience of the 12th (Sheffield) bn, York & Lancaster regt. This was a pals bn.

 

The volunteer goes to the Town Hall recruiting office. There he has a screening interview and forms are filled in.

Immediately after that he and others go in a group to the Corn Exchange. There the volunteer has a medical examination. Having passed that, he and others are attested together. This doesn’t involve a magistrate. They simply repeat words read out by an officer. At that point they are legally in the army.

Then the volunteer is told to go away and wait to hear further. The book isn’t precise but it seems to be a couple of weeks before he receives a summons to report at the Drill Hall. He is surprised that he is not told to bring pyjamas or shaving gear or anything of the sort.

At the Drill Hall training starts, but in the weeks that follow the volunteer still lives at home, and still drills and trains in civilian clothes.

After some weeks men of the bn receive a uniform (albeit not a real army uniform) and the next day they all go off to camp.

 

 

Make of that what you will. I’m inclined to think that it describes the experience of the majority of 1914 volunteers in pals bns.

 

Edited by Bart150

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kenf48

As previously noted there was no common experience of either recruitment, or enlistment.

 

 As Clive has already pointed out the initial recruits for K1 came largely from the traditional pool of men who had joined the Army in peacetime.  Middle class recruits who enlisted at this time were horrified by the coarseness and general lack of manners of their comrades.  These early recruits  were shipped off to the local Depot or Barracks either the same day or the following day after enlistment.  Here in East Sussex that was Chichester which became a 'melting pot' as the Army attempted to manage these new recruits.  One man writing home describes how men were sent off never to be seen again, yet at the same time a group of miners from Northumberland ended up at the Barracks and in the Royal Sussex. As previously mentioned a soldier enlisting in Croydon would be sent to the Queen's Barracks at Guildford.  Many middle class recruits found adjusting to Army life and sharing barracks, or more often a tent, was an assault on their senses.

 

In the fictitious example above, in common with other Pals Battalions a recruit would have to wait until the Battalion was brought up to strength, which was not universally easy.  If he was amongst the first batch of recruits he would be sent away until such time as the men were processed.  In Birmingham, where they had learned from Manchester who were overwhelmed by recruits, men were asked to put their names forward to the local newspaper.  Their names were printed in the newspaper and they were called for in batches of 200 or so, easing the administrative burden.  Men were commonly attested in groups either by the Lord Mayor or Magistrates, it was a matter of civic pride.  However the sheer numbers often meant the attestation was conducted by an Army officer.  A major difficulty was finding the clerks and doctors to cope with the process.  Any delay reflected more on the Army's ability to absorb these Battalions and create training camps and was not built into a system.   Initially the Pals or locally raised Battalions were funded locally so it made economic sense for them to remain at home until the organisation caught up.

 

The first locally raised Battalion was the Stockbrokers (they were unlikely to call themselves 'Pals') or the 10th (Service ) Battalion Royal Fusiliers.  The recruiting office was opened in Throgmorton Street on the 21st August and 210 men were enrolled.  By the 27th August 1,600 men were enrolled.  They were inspected by Lord Roberts on 29 August  and then marched to the Tower where they were sworn in, or attested as a body by the Lord Mayor of London.  Five days later they left for training at Colchester.

 

This from the IWM explains the process in 1914 in  more detail

https://www.iwm.org.uk/history/from-civilian-to-first-world-war-soldier-in-8-steps

 

By the time the Derby Scheme came along in October 1915 the organisation and structure of enlistment was so streamlined the process, including applications for exemption from military service, was more or less adopted for universal conscription under the terms of the Military Service Act.  By the time Harry Patch turned eighteen in June 1916 (he was one of many who did not want to join up) he knew, 'from that time onwards a telegram requiring my services was only months or even weeks away.  Notification came by post and with it a railway warrant from Bath to Taunton to report by such and such a time the following day.'

 

 

Ken

 

 

 

 

 

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