In January 1916 the Military Service Act was passed. This imposed conscription for the first time whereas previously the British Government had relied on voluntary enlistment, and latterly a kind of moral conscription called the Derby Scheme. It came into force on March 2nd, 1916. Initially, the Act specified that single men aged 18 to 41 who were outside of a protected occupation (those jobs considered of national importance) were now part of the army reserve and liable for immediate call-up. Also included were widowers without children. In May 1916 the Act was amended to include married men. By 1918 it had been extended in age range to 51. Men or employers who objected to an individual’s call-up could apply to a local Military Service Tribunal. These bodies could grant exemption from service, usually conditional or temporary. There was right of appeal to a County Appeal Tribunal. Local Tribunals were set up with Launceston Town Council holding a meeting on Thursday, February 11th, 1916 to set in motion the election to the Launceston Tribunal. The Mayor, Mr E. Hicks, Messrs C. H. Peter, R. H. Pyne, and C. R. Gerveys Grylls were elected, and to represent labour Messrs Chas Bassett and R. Walters were also elected. Launceston Rural District Council elected Mr G. Lobb, and Messrs. A. West, A. Henwood, and W. Metherell.
Jury exemptions September 1917
Broadwood Tribunal November 3rd, 1917
Launceston Tribunal December 8th, 1917
Although the armistice of November 1918 ended the war on the Western Front, the millions of men who were serving there didn’t immediately return home. A demobilisation scheme was implemented, to ensure the gradual release of men from military service. On December 14th, 1918, just over a month after the armistice was signed, the first UK general election for eight years took place. The speed of demobilisation and the employment prospects of ex-servicemen were, unsurprisingly, key issues during the 1918 general election. In the end, the coalition won with David Lloyd George remaining as Prime Minister.