Reserved occupations WW1

Discussion in 'Military History and Militaria' started by Chef, Mar 24, 2008.

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  1. I'm half way through "The first casualty! by Ben Elton which is a good read, but one of the main planks of his story is a police inspector imprisoned for refusing to be conscrupted, the book opens in Oct 1917, the chapter dealing with the Inspector's trial is set 'some time earlier'.

    The question I have is was the police force a reserved occupation? If so it makes the book a good read, but not confidence building as reguards accuracy, unlike the Flashman series.

    Any comments would be appreciated, as I know some of my older friends were in reserved jobs in WW2 miners, fire brigade, police, etc.
  2. Much as I don't find much of Elton's piece all that persuasive, he is apparently right about police officers not being in excepted from conscription in the latter part of the First World War. A succession of Military Service Acts were passed (the first of which took effect from January 1916) which narrowed the way that exceptions could be identified. Rather than list specific occupations, the Acts said that exceptions had to be for work of national importance. Generally, being a policeman didn't fit this description. Policemen who were military reservists had been called up at the start of the war.

    The more formal use of 'reserved occupations' in the Second World War did include policemen. However, manpower shortages by 1942 meant policemen under 25 were conscripted.

    Would be nice to think Mr Elton is interested in any of that. He seems to revel in making the military look half witted. Maybe could retaliate with a book about smart alec drama student whose parents are both respected academics, but who wants to make out he was brought up under a hedge in Sarf London all the better to show how he hates Fatcher.
  3. oldbaldy

    oldbaldy LE Moderator Good Egg (charities)
    1. Battlefield Tours

    From the Great War Forum:

    On a personal note, I cannot find any of my WW1 Clydeside family serving in WW1 and suspect it was because they were involved in shipbuilding
  4. There's another article here:

    This explains the Military Service Act 1916, and lists, in a broad sense, the reserved occupations but remember that the definitions are very loose so an 'essential occupation' could, with the right circumstances, be just about anything.

    If you Google ''Military Service Act 1916" there is quite a lot to be found, non of it very conclusive though!
  5. Thanks for that it has been very informative.

    As far as Elton's street cred goes I do recall in an episode of "Filthy Rich and Catflap" the passing comment,

    "They may be figures of fun for stand up comedians, but when your house is robbed you wouldn't want a couple of alternative comedians rolling up at the front door instead of a brace of coppers."
  6. Elton didn't even get the uniform details correct (thinking that an officer could just remove his rank badges to look like a ranker, for instance. The hours spent sewing them back on would be a bit boring.). Credibility in that book is pretty low.
  7. It is a reasonable read, 5/10 as a yarn. What annoys the feck out of me though is that a teensy-weensy bit of research or a half decent "military" editor could have made it a 7/10. Well you can't make a silk purse...

    It annoys me so much I may have to go to the pub - even though I'm trying to work! Trying to work with if the truth be told as well...