Records reveal how people in Lichfield and Burntwood battled to avoid conscription during World War One

Records outlining how people in Lichfield and Burntwood fought conscription in World War One are to be published for the first time.

Some of the military appeal tribunal records

Some of the military appeal tribunal records

The rare collection of military appeal tribunal documents have been made available by the Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent Archive and Heritage Service.

The records show how individuals who sought exemption were able to make their case.

All documentation was ordered to be destroyed after the war, but an oversight meant Staffordshire’s collection survived.

Among the items are a letter from a Yoxall woman objecting to a decision to make a man called Herbert Roe exempt because of his work of ‘national importance’ as a carrier.

She wrote: “He is simply using the carrying business as an excuse for keeping out of the army.

“He has just brought a cow three weeks ago for nothing, only as an excuse if he should be called up.

“The men off the farms have had to go although they were working seven days a week on agriculture while he is left to strut about the roads like a gentleman.”

Documents also reveal how a 19-year-old farmer from Burntwood made his case to avoid conscription, while a bricklayer from the town said being called up would cause his family “serious hardship”.

Others who argued against being called up include a Lichfield motorcycle business owner, a Fradley cattle slaughterer and a Hammerwich insurance agent.

A £37,600 Heritage Lottery Fund grant has helped to preserve the records.

Gill Heath, Staffordshire County Council’s Cabinet member responsible for archives, said the documents offered a real insight into the lives of those fighting conscription: “In almost every other area of the country these records were destroyed, so we’re very lucky to have them.

“This collection is of great interest both here in Staffordshire and nationally and having them available digitally means people from across the world can search through them.

“I would like to say a big thanks to our team of volunteers who made it possible.”

People can search the records online and request copies of the documents.

Founder of LichfieldLive and editor of the site.

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