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  • Created by: hannah
  • Created on: 04-01-13 10:54

Pals Battalions

  • At the start of the war th British army was tiny compared to that of Germany
  • Lord Kitchener th Secretary of State for the war was put in charge of raising 100,000 volunteers.
  • By the end of september 1914 he had raised 174,000
  • And 100,000 voluntered each month ater that for the next year.
  • Ofetn men from the same town or organistaion put together 'pals batttalions' this led to towns competing to make sure they didn't look unpatriotic comparred to their neighbours.
  • There were Pals Battalions from Liverpool, Sheffield Accrington, Hull Commercials, Glasow tramworkers
  • These men trained together and developed close bonds.
  • However, the downside was soon realised as with the sever losses there were hardly a street in some towns which hadn't suffered a loss
  • On the first day of the Somme out of the 720 Accrington pals 584 were wounded or missing. 
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The derby Scheme

The great losses in the early war and th realisation that war was not fun meant that in 1915 the army badly needed more men.

The gov consdered conscription and by the end of 1915 set up a natonal register of men aged 15-65

Then initiated the derby Scheme where men were asked to promise that they would sign up if they were asked-it said that married men would be called up after single men and that those with a good rason would be exempted.

But when less than half of the men in the country agreed they were forced to take more extreme action.

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Military Service Acts

In January 1916 the First Military Service Act was passed. It said that all single men 18-41 could be called up.

The second act in May 1916 extended this to married men too. 

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Conscientious Objectors

  • When conscription was introduced in 1916 men with jobs in key industries such as Miners and Engine Drivers were not called up.
  • Small group of men refused to fight because of their conscience or personal beliefs-conscientious objectors.
  • They formed an Organisation called the British Neutrality League to oppose war and in 1916 formed th Non-conscription fellowship.
  • They had to attend tribunals where they faced tough questioning and were accused of being shirkers slackers cowards or conshies.
  • The tribunals had the power to grant unconditional exemption but more often allocated objectors to non-combatant duties such as ambulance drivers/stretcher bearers or workers on the home front.


Most often tribunals rejected applicants and men were made liable for call up, if they rejected they were sent to prison. This happened to 1,500 of the coscientious objectors.

Absolutist-a conscientious objector who refused to have any part in the war effort even non-combatant duties

some were even sentenced to death but normally had their sentences commuted to extensive periods of hard labour.

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