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WW1 - didn't fight, why?

ProfilePosted byOptionsPost Date


Angela Report 4 Nov 2012 21:02

Hi I wonder if it's posible to find out why a great uncle of mine didn't fight in WW1, he would've been the right age and doesn't appear to be in a protected occupation. I guess it must be health related unless he was a conscience objector, many thanks for any help in advance.



Malcolm Report 4 Nov 2012 21:07

My Grandfather was a Merchant Navy captain and simply continued in that line though he would have been able to serve as a Military Naval officer. My father was a Marine engineer and was requisitioned OFF ships and into the shipyards to build fighting ships. JUst as well as the last ship he served on was sunk by the "Hipper" in a convoy not much later.


Reggie Report 4 Nov 2012 22:50

Why do you think he didn't enlist?

What was his occupation?


Angela Report 5 Nov 2012 00:17

Hi, I can only think it was health related, although nothing obvious.

He was 22 at the time WW1 started and was a mill hand labourer in a cotswold textile factory. As far as I know he did that for the duration of the war.


RolloTheRed Report 5 Nov 2012 08:01

The army had various health criteria for enlistment and a guy could be rejected for reasons that did not stop him working e.g. flat feet.

During World War 1 there was a sort of Dad's Army / Home Guard and a lot of non combatant men joined up. Reasons were too old for regular service, in a reserved occupation but wanted to "do their bit", refused by army on health grounds, discharged after recovering from wounds and unfit etc. Many ( not all ) C.O. joined the Home Guard as the possibility of having to kill people was remote. Even some Quakers joined.

As well as the usual sort of home guard duties - guarding things, exercises - members of the Home Guard were awarded a small silver badge which they wore in their lapel. Men were very proud of these and they were usually looked after carefully and passed down.

The silver badge also gave protection from the notorious "white feather" maniacs.

Ancestry has a database of the silver badges with document images.


John Report 5 Nov 2012 12:27

Seeing he was a mill-worker, he may have been excluded or found unfit for military service for reasons of breathing difficulties caused by all the airborne fibres in the factory. He may have had something akin to "miner's lung", a affliction to particles in the air. There may have even been a factory doctor who assessed him BEFORE a military doctor could see him should he have attested.


DazedConfused Report 5 Nov 2012 13:05

Have you checked out the religious aspect. He could have been a Quaker.

However, John's suggestion of his health is the most likely reason.

His death certificate may hold the answer.


lancashireAnn Report 5 Nov 2012 13:29

as he was a textile worker it could have been a reserved occupation if they were making military uniforms - or would that have been one of the jobs taken on by women


+++DetEcTive+++ Report 5 Nov 2012 18:39

"Ancestry has a database of the silver badges with document images."

Which data base is that included on please Rollo?

Chris Ho :)

Chris Ho :) Report 5 Nov 2012 18:48

UK, Silver War Badge Records, 1914-1920

This database contains indexed images of rolls listing military personnel awarded Britain’s Silver War Badge for service in World War I.

Historical Background

The British Empire lost more than 700,000 service personnel killed in World War 1. An even greater number were discharged because of wounds or illness. In September 1916, King George V authorized the Silver War Badge (SWB) to honor all military personnel who had served at home or overseas since 4 August 1914 and who had been discharged because of wounds or illness. The SWB was a small, circular badge made of sterling silver, bearing the king’s initials, a crown, and the inscriptions ‘For King and Empire’ and ‘Services Rendered’.
The SWB was not simply an honor; it also served a practical purpose. At the time, men of military age who were not obviously in the service were sometimes accosted or insulted by civilians presenting them with white feathers — a symbol of cowardice — for shirking their patriotic duty. The badge served as an outward symbol that the wearer’s duty to country had been honorably fulfilled.

Chris :)


Angela Report 5 Nov 2012 19:05

RolloThe Red, John, PigletPal and LancashireAnn, many thanks for your suggestions, particuarly the Homeguard silver badges, which is something I've not heard of before. I don't think he was a quaker as his sister was my gran and she wasn't - anyway off to do some more digging.

Thanks once again



+++DetEcTive+++ Report 5 Nov 2012 21:46

Thank you Chris :-)

was plain ann now annielaurie

was plain ann now annielaurie Report 6 Nov 2012 16:45

How do you know he didn't enlist?

He could have just served in this country and therefore wouldn't have any entitlement to medals (apart from the Silver War Badge, if he was discharged through illness or injury) and therefore there wouldn't be a medal card for him. So many service records were destroyed that it's not unusual not to find surviving service records.

He could also have served with the Navy/Royal Flying Corps etc. rather than the Army.


Von Report 6 Nov 2012 20:44

Have you looked at newspapers for the time for the area in which he lived?
I've found a lot of information on what was going on during WW1 in the village in which my grandfather lived.
This included those who were applying for exemption and all the times when my grandfather was home on leave.
Good luck with the search