As weÂ mark the centenary of the outbreak of the First World War there is a lot of interest in military records. This is hardly surprising, given the vast numbers of men who joined the armed forces, either as volunteers or, from 1916 onwards, as conscripts.Â Every family and every community was affected by the war, and there are war memorialsÂ all around the country, including many in workplaces and schools.
But the men in uniform wereÂ by no means the only ones who contributed to the war effort. Some were too old, too young or simply unfit for military service, while others worked in occupations that were deemed to be of national importance and were therefore exempt from military service. When the supply of volunteers no longer produced enough recruits for the forces, conscription was introduced in 1916. The lower age limit was 18, and while most young men would be working by that age, some were still at school, often hoping to proceed to higher education. Most pupils attended elementary schools up to the school leaving age of 14, butÂ many towns had grammar schools and there wereÂ of course fee-paying schools which educated pupils up toÂ 18, andÂ boys in the sixth forms of these schools were old enough to be called up.