A SchoolsHistory.org.uk project. Online for testing and editing by participating students. Please excuse any typographical errors, inaccuracies or broken links: or better still, e-mail me and let me know where they are!
Interactive Timeline of the First World War
Conscription - The First World War - 1916
Conscription was something that the government had sought to avoid at all costs. The war of attrition in France and Flanders had however brought about a situation whereby the armed forces were severely weakened. The original British Expeditionary Force had been shattered and the enthusiastic volunteers mauled on the battlefields of Western Europe. In great need of a victory, and the manpower to achieve it, the Prime Minister, Herbert Asquith, introduced the bill for compulsory attestation of men in early January 1916.
This act of parliament would require none married men to join the army, it was enforced enlisting: conscription. Below is a contemporary report on the introduction of conscription:
Thursday January 6, 1916
Asquith introduced the Government's bill for the compulsory attestation
of single men of military age in the House of Commons yesterday. At
the end of his speech he said that the bill would prove to be a dead
letter if the men would come in now of their own free will, for the
group system was reopened and the military authorities would continue
to allow them to attest under it.
The Act to come into operation on a date fixed by proclamation within 14 days after it has received the Royal Assent. The appointed day will be the 21st day after the day the Act comes into operation (i.e. a maximum of five weeks and a minimum of three weeks after the Royal assent). 2. Men in holy orders or regular ministers of any denomination. Applications for exemption may be made at any time before the appointed day in respect of any man or any class of men.
entitled to exemption will include men engaged on necessary national
work, single men who are the stay and support of their relatives, those
suffering from ill-health or infirmity, and conscientious objectors
to the undertaking of combatant service.
Other Schoolshistory.org.uk resources about the First World War