Loss and sacrifice on the Home Front, 1914-1918
Today’s blog post, using the Military Service Tribunal papers from MH 47, will look at the emotional impact of the First World War on the Home Front. We will specifically see how the shared experiences of military service, loss and sacrifice affected individual households and the local communities they formed a part of.
97 years ago, on 25 May 1916, compulsory military service into the Army was extended from single men and widowers without children to cover all men – single and married – aged between 18 and 41, and who had been resident in Great Britain since 4 August 1914. This extension of conscription was a result of the continued difficulties of manning the army due to the number of casualties overseas.
The story of John Gordon Shallis is one of the many interesting finds from our MH 47 pre-digitisation work. Mr Shallis appealed for exemption from military service on grounds of domestic hardship, having lost four of his brothers during the war. John’s mother is described as a “cripple” on his appeal form, having broken her leg, and his father was away carrying out Home Defence duties with the Territorial Force. 1 This left John as the only son left for the family.
The first of John’s brothers to lose his life was George Victor Shallis, a member of the Merchant Navy. George was on board the armed merchant ship HMS Viknor when it went down off the coast of Northern Ireland on 31 January 1915. The Admiralty case file in ADM 116 reveals that the Viknor most likely struck a mine having been blown off course by bad weather. 2 George is listed as a Steward, with his wife and their address listed under Next of Kin (see image, below).