The Military Service Tribunals of Derbyshire and Staffordshire: An assessment of their ‘Remarkable Achievements’ in Managing the Effects of Conscription and Safeguarding Britain’s Social and Economic Stability during the Great War

PhD Thesis

Pyne-Edwards Banks, Rebecca 2021. The Military Service Tribunals of Derbyshire and Staffordshire: An assessment of their ‘Remarkable Achievements’ in Managing the Effects of Conscription and Safeguarding Britain’s Social and Economic Stability during the Great War. PhD Thesis
AuthorsPyne-Edwards Banks, Rebecca
TypePhD Thesis

First established in Britain during the latter months of 1915, Military Service Tribunals worked diligently throughout the last three years of the Great War coexisting alongside conscription. For a generation unaccustomed to compulsion, the Government envisioned an egalitarian system of tribunals across the country, providing appeasement for any individual who opposed their conscription. Gaining legal status in March 1916, tribunals worked diligently to evaluate Britain’s manpower needs; either allowing conscription to take its course, alternatively, permitting the possibility of a claimants’ exemption. While the Government sought to protect the country’s major industries and extensively exempting large groups of men based on their occupation, it became the responsibility of the tribunals to evaluate cases within their localities by considering the suitability of an individual for exemption. During the subsequent decades following the war, historical research into the work of the tribunals was thought to be seriously hindered. Ostensibly, a notion resulting from an edict issued from the Ministry of Health in early 1922, announcing to all local councils the opportunity for them to dispose of the accumulated and vast amount of tribunal paperwork. However, some fifty years after the war and following the discovery of a small number of surviving tribunal documents, scholars began to question their original assumption. Today, aware of the potential for more surviving tribunal documents, surveys have been conducted around the country discovering an abundance of paperwork scattered in local archives. Protected from destruction by prudent individuals, it is these tribunal documents which are currently being studied for the first time, papers which improve the academic understanding of conscription and the exemption process. Explored in this thesis are these tribunal documents, new discoveries which record the applications of claimants living in the Derbyshire and Staffordshire area. These case papers are used in conjunction with the officially saved directives contained in the MH47/MH10 files which allow for a unique and extensive understanding of the tribunals working in the north midlands region. Claimant case files have been compiled into a database, supplemented by information acquired from newspapers, directories and online repositories. Combining these sources has assisted in producing a detailed and focused analysis of statistics regarding the north midland tribunals, evidencing their competencies, highlighting their altruism and demonstrating their successes in accurately following their assigned responsibilities. Of particular focus are the constitution, function and procedures of the tribunals, considering both their directives and the measures taken to accurately and effectively follow closely their mutable instructions. Often disparaged for their war work, tribunal members are reconsidered and reassessed, creating a uniquely detailed analysis of their individuality, motivations and the nature of their professional working relationship with others. Furthermore, this work considers claimant statistics, utilising these figures to contemplate tribunal successes and impartiality of work. Lastly, a consideration is explored regarding the efforts of tribunals in sustaining enough workers for vital regional industries. This thesis is a distinctive inspection of the Local and Appeal Tribunals working in Derbyshire and Staffordshire, examining their accomplishments in pacifying the people and impeding what could have been the overwhelming loss of manpower through conscription upon industry in their locality.

KeywordsBritain; Military service tribunals; Great War
PublisherUniversity of Derby
Web address (URL)hdl:10545/626304
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Output statusUnpublished
Publication process dates
Deposited03 Mar 2022, 11:55
Publication dates2021

Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International

ContributorsWhitehead, Ian (Advisor) and Feely, Cath (Advisor)
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