War Diaries Talk

Service contract

  • Stork by Stork

    In the 18th day, this is the first time I've read of a specific time limit to someone's service. I assume that when he volunteered, he signed a contract saying that he would serve for one year. Was this common? For officers or volunteers only? Was a draft in place during the war for enlisted men? How was their time limit determined?


  • marie.eklidvirginmedia.com by marie.eklidvirginmedia.com

    Article re Types of service available up to the declaration of war Includes: Special Reserve/Territorial Force Regular and National. Link: http://www.1914-1918.net/recruitment.htm

    Since 1908 the British Army had offered four forms of recruitment. A man could join the army as a professional soldier of the regular army or as a part-time member of the Territorial Force or as a soldier of the Special Reserve. Finally there was the opportunity to join the National Reserve. There was a long-running battle, with politicians and military men taking both sides, about whether Britain should have a system of national conscripted service. By 1914 this had not come about and Britain's army was entirely voluntary.

    Regular army: It was still possible to enlist into the regular army on standard terms, usually twelve years as described above, throughout the war. In addition to this, on Lord Kitchener's instructions in August 1914 a new form of "short service" was introduced, under which a man could serve for "three years or the duration of the war, whichever the longer". Men joining on this basis, including all of "Kitchenere's Army" and the "Pals" units were technically of the regular army and were serving on this basis.

    The wartime volunteers continued to have, in theory at least, a choice over the regiment they joined. They had to meet the same physical criteria as the peace time regulars, but men who had previously served in the army would now be accepted up to the age of 45. There are many recorded instances of underage and indeed overage men being accepted into the service. It was not necessary to produce evidence of age or even of one's name in order to enlist.


  • marie.eklidvirginmedia.com by marie.eklidvirginmedia.com

    Royal Army Medical Corps: Lt. W.S. Milne RAMC (TC) who left for England on completion of his 1 year contract may have been a civilian doctor.

    I suppose it may have been up to them as to how long they signed up for when they received their commissions.
    Notes from an article re RAMC : The vast military medical organisation which cared for sick and wounded servicemen between 1914-1918, grew from small beginnings. At the outbreak of the conflict about 5,000 medical officers and men - which was about half the required strength - were available to go with the British Expeditionary Force to France. However, numbers were quickly made up by giving commissions to civilian doctors who volunteered in large numbers and enlisting men whose employment in civilian life suited them for work in the Royal Army Medical Corps without further medical training.

    Have seen similar entries in the diaries concerning men in the RAMC finishing their contracts.


  • cyngast by cyngast moderator

    Doctors received special treatment and signed up with one-year contracts. They could then leave at the end of the year or renew their contract for another year.

    I suppose that some doctors felt they wanted to help out, but may have declined to renew their contracts because they felt that their patients at home needed them, too. I've also seen some who left to continue with their medical studies.


  • David_Underdown by David_Underdown moderator

    Chaplains also served on contract. Keeping sufficient doctors available at home was an issue, particularly in Ireland.

    Pre-war territorials did also become "time-expired" during the course of the war. Once conscription was introduced in 1916 the picture changed somewhat with people potentially being liable for conscription even they'd already completed their original term of service. In the territorials if you voluntarily re-enlisted at the end of your term you usually received a bonus payment and leave, and also got to stay with your original unit. If you simply let your engagement expire you'd probably then be conscripted and be sent to whichever unit was most in need (and of course you'd probably be posted almost straight away as you wouldn't need training).