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Remembered Today:

Which occupations were reserved?

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I am relatively new to the forum and keep finding more questions than answers so any help would be great.

In WW1 were there reserved occupations and if there were what sort of occupations were covered?

Reason for asking is that my great grandfather does not appear to have served in WW1 although he was in his 20's and I would have thought he would have been the "right age" if there is such a thing. He worked as a warehouseman for Tate & Lyle in Liverpool for the whole of his working life and it seems strange that when others signed up he didn't.

My only other thought would be that he failed the medical perhaps? Is there any way of finding out? I presume not.

Can anyone help?



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In WW1, they were much less concerned to keep skilled men in their occupations than in WW2, and far too many skilled men, artisans etc, ended up dying in the trenches. (Not that their lives were worth more than unskilled men, but they could have contributed more to the war effort using their skills). Without wishing to denigrate warehousemen, I am a little surprised that it was considered essential work and that he didn't volunteer or be conscripted, and a medical reason seems most likely.

That said, my own paternal grandfather was an electrical engineer at GEC in Coventry and stayed there throughout the war as it was a reserved occupation.

I don't know if forum members who use the National Archives would know if medical records of volunteers are available.


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Hi Tracey

Welcome to the forum, I also do not think a warehousemen would have been a reserved occupation. My own great grandfather tried to get in the army during the war but was refused because he had flat feet.


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Yes, there were reserved occupations in WW1 - especially when the war industries, particularly munitions, realised they had lost skilled labour to the rush to the colours. But these kept shifting and changing. The clearest single explanation is in Ian Beckett's "The Home Front 1914-1918" published by the National Archives a couple of months back. The list of occupations were regularly published in The London Gazette as the evolved as well.

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