Staffordshire conscription tribunal notes revealed

Youthful conscripts at the Etaples base in France, July 1918

Youthful conscripts at the Etaples base in France, July 1918

Records from Staffordshire’s conscription appeals tribunals are to be documented as part of the commemorations of the Centenary of the First World War.

The authorities intended that the records would be destroyed following the Armistice, but documents relating to around 20,000 still exist at the records office in Stafford.

Professor Karen Hunt, from Keele University, said call-up appeals were often placed by the employer of a man selected for military service.

The Stafford papers reveal the pressures the community was under, she added, with many men already in the forces and many others killed in action.

Conscription enforced

Conscription was introduced in Britain in January 1916 as casualty rates rose and the number of volunteers dwindled, especially following the slaughter of the Pals battalions at the Battle of the Somme.

Under the Military Service Act men aged between 18 and 45 were obliged to register to join the armed forces. In May, the act was widened to include married men and, two years later, the upper age limit was raised to 51.

In 1918 the upper age limit for conscription was raised to 51

In 1918 the upper age limit for conscription was raised to 51

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