Britain’s economy affected enlistment. Many working-class men saw the military as an avenue for economic advancement, a way either to improve their skills, gain new ones, or simply find a job. With the pre-war stigma of joining the army [see chapter 6] eliminated by the popularity of the war, workers with economic motives joined without worrying about the social repercussions. These workers judged that the rewards outweighed risks involved in the fighting; here was a chance to break away from economic constriction.

The casualties rates suffered in France makes this look a fool’s bargain, but no more so than the decisions made by men of other classes. Men of all classes enlisted for a variety of reasons and risked death as a consequence. Men of the working-class who enlisted for economic reasons did so in an attempt to create a better life for themselves or their families. That the attempt--for many of them--failed does not obviate the importance and, more critically, the sophistication of the effort.

Beginning in the second half of the 19th century, the Britain steadily lost economic ground to other industrial powers, most notably Germany and the United States. Britain began the half-century the strongest economic power in the world. But while her economy continued to grow in absolute terms, others grew much faster, thus shrinking Britain’s relative lead. By 1900, the United States had surpassed Britain in manufacturing output; by 1913 Germany had also overcome the British lead. Imperial resources balanced the scales somewhat, though the empire proved something of a mixed blessing. The imperial hinterland offered expansive economic resources, but it suffered from occasional unrests such as the Indian Mutiny of 1856-7 which demanded widely spread policing forces. The United States had a more easily controlled hinterland in the vast stretches of the American West. Germany, meanwhile, started a long and draining naval arms race with Britain in an attempt to gain an empire of her own. The result was that Britain undertook a ruinously expensive arms build-up even as her economy struggled. The group who suffered the most from this economic slide (with the possible exception of the colonial natives) were the British working-class. Workers at the very bottom of the economic scale bore the heaviest burden but even those industries which had previously provided secure and reasonably well-paid positions decayed. Shipbuilding, textiles, and steel manufacturing felt keen competition from cheaper factories in America and Germany. The coal industry, although still globally dominant, slipped from its position of near monopoly in the 1880s to mere preponderance in 1900. Wages, which had, on average, risen during the Industrial Revolution, stagnated or declined, and unemployment increased.

As a result, some laborers, like Frank Turner’s father, found work only intermittently. Frank Turner remembered a constant struggle for money: his family only "...just managed to keep out of the workhouse." Others, like E. Patterson, did not experience the downturn directly but nonetheless remembered the economic conditions in pre-war Sunderland:

There was a lot of poverty in the town as shipbuilding was slack, and it was a common sight to see children going to school without shoes or stockings. My father was a coaltrimmer and we were better off than most of the other children.

Going without shoes was a common problem: as J.M. Lane said: "The majority of my class was without shoes." Patterson recalled further that unemployed men had to go to great lengths to acquire other family necessities, travelling long distances to get leftover coal and then struggling back to their houses :

...those with no means of transport carried their sacks of coal back home. Some did not make as it was too much for them and were found dead besides the sacks of coal. There was no dole and it has baffled me since, how these people lived and we were one of the richest countries in the world at that time.

Even those who worked full time jobs worked back-breaking hours to support their family. G. Phippen’s father worked from before dawn until after dusk to support his children:

I was born of very poor parents early Jan 1896. My father was a farrier and general blacksmith, working from 6am until late evening 6pm Saturday, 12 noon if he was lucky.

Such hours kept them only just above the poverty line. Some did not manage even that: the father of a man named Carr worked as a miner six days a week. But the money he brought home was not enough. Other members of the family worked to bring in money:

My Father didn’t make any wage to what we could really call a keeping wage, to keep us alive. My sister had to go out selling with a basket on her head. Sometimes selling herring and I used to hear her shout what she was selling.

George Turner, while he was in school, delivered newspapers part-time. His income proved so important to the family that, as soon as it was legal, his parents, over the strong protests of the headmaster, pulled him out of school.

L.S. Price also found the salary from his full-time work insufficient. He was employed as a house-boy after leaving school:

"A man of Kent, raised in Canterbury, I found on leaving school that there was no work in the area. I moved up to London where I was employed as a house boy for a year, but the hours were long, the wages poor, and I had little liking for city life. I returned home at 15 years of age, not really knowing what I should do. Then came the offer of a post in Sussex, where I remained until [I] turned eighteen.

Some full-time jobs did provide economic stability. W. Slater’s father had a full-time job that lasted throughout Slater’s childhood. As a result the Slater family was relatively well-off:

I was the only child of working-class parents. My father had known real hardship because he was one of a large family that had some difficulty in feeding itself adequately on its meager income. However, during my lifetime he was never out of work as a compositor, so that our small family escaped the poverty that many people suffered when I was a boy, either because of unemployment or because the breadwinner was an unskilled laborer working for 1 a week or less.

But even regular full-time jobs did not prevent workers from feeling insecure economically. The Slaters believed that their position was unstable and could change drastically for the worse with little warning. If his father had lost his job or fallen ill for a long period of time, the Slaters’ comfortable position would have disappeared quickly. Lack of substantial unemployment benefits and medical insurance meant that a working family’s economic position was built on sand:

Although, as I have said, we were among the luckier members of the working-class, my mother, who was a worrier, was haunted during a great part of her married life by the possibility of our becoming the victims of a long spell of unemployment or illness.

A few institutions helped the un- or under-employed. Local authorities in some areas gave some food and clothing to impoverished children . Mick Burke remembered growing up in Ancoats, a slum in Liverpool, and the help doled out by the police and schools:

Many children got free lace-up clogs, which were given out by the police then–you should have heard the clatter in the classroom. The teachers used to come around and inspect our footwear when the weather was bad and they would also ask 'Whose father is out of work?'....[my father was] so I go breakfast and dinner free at Whitworth Street School.

Other support, Frank Turner remembered, arrived through religious avenues:

The poorer classes had to scrounge around and discover all the Charity Associations for help. The various Churches in the district did their best to help with such as Dinner Tickets and aid to Children and Down and Outs.

Possibly the greatest source of relief in the immediate pre-war era and a great improvement on the private efforts was the unemployment or medical insurance introduced by the Liberal government in 1909. Unemployment insurance ended, for many working-class families, the fear over a sudden loss of the primary bread-winners’ job, as Arthur Ward pointed out:

The second great change was the passing into law the pioneer act of present day social security. This became effective in 1911 and provided an insurance against the effects of unemployment and an old age pension. Before this it was a recurring fact of life for thousands of families to be hit by the breadwinner being suddenly without a job. No work, no pay.

Possibly just as important as unemployment insurance were the structures Lloyd-George set up in 1911 to assist the unemployed with job finding. R.S. Patson talked about the new offices:

Things were improving in employment after Lloyd George brought in his National Insurance Bill in 1911, and Labor Exchanges were set up. I registered at one near the Angel public house at Islington, and obtained several interviews for jobs thereby.

Many took advantage of these alternate sources of income, scraped by on what they could, and made do. But unemployment insurance covered only a limited number of people; even though the Liberals broadened that pool in March-April 1914, many remained outside its coverage. William Cowley’s father, a bricklayer, could not receive unemployment insurance payments because he rarely had a single employer for a substantial period of time. Right up to the start of the war, workers’ economic position was fundamentally insecure, with few options for advancement or safety nets against disaster.

Some attempted to improve their economic status in less legitimate ways. E.J. Brownlea ran guns into Northern Ireland to defend against Home Rule and, incidentally, to feed himself. He joined up for the same reasons when the war started. Few went to such extreme lengths. Others emigrated, or sought refuge in the ranks of the military. C.J. Rice outlined the composition of the Army that resulted:

The non-commissioned ranks of the British Army at the outbreak of war were mostly composed of men who had enlisted during a period of unemployment or who sought long term security. The pay was extremely low. Few can have regarded the Army as a career and few had enlisted for patriotic reasons.

J.M. Lane was one of those enlisted men. The son of shipyard riveter in Sunderland and 1 of 3 children, he could only rarely find work before 1914. Often without food or shoes, he finally joined the military: "I was off [from work] and I was sick of doing nothing and I went and joined the Army. E. Rolph also enlisted prior to the war, and he explained the motives of some of the men with whom he found himself:

We exchanged views with each other in the Receiving Room--some men wanted to make a career of the Army, others were escaping from the uncertainty of civilian life. Some were enlisting under a false name and one was running away to avoid marrying a girl who was in the family way.

But in the pre-war era, those who joined were viewed with contempt, as failures and near traitors to their class [see Chapter 6]. The exception to this, as it was for those who sought adventure, was the Territorials. Joining a Territorial unit gave an economic benefit as well as an escapist one. The wages and free equipment proved attractive to poor workers. It made a big difference to E. Patterson and some of his friends:

About that time the terriers were much in our minds, as apprentices we could get 2 weeks camp, 2 shirts, and a pair of boots free with pay, more than we were receiving at work. Most of us decided to join so at the age of 17 most of us became one of the Terriers....

A.E. Smith (whose father [a regular soldier] had deserted in 1902, committed suicide in 1908, and doomed his wife and children to near poverty) joined the Territorials for many reasons, among them economic ones:

I did not enlist [originally] from any patriotic zeal, though I may have been influenced to some extent by the papers or journals for boys with their fictional stories of Britain and Germany at war. It was mainly the prospect of fellowship with others, stirred up by the reports of friends and acquaintences who had enlisted in some of the Territorial Battalions. They were poverty-stricken days, so that the prospect of a fortnight by the sea (ie the Annual Camp) for which one was paid a few shillings was enticing.

Smith’s decision to join in January 1914 created a particularly nasty bind for him when the war started and shows the limits of civilian cooperation with the military in pre-war Britain. Smith was short of the required six months service necessary to force his employer to release him for the the two week summer camp, starting on August 2, 1914. He nonetheless arranged to go:

When at the insurance company, I had joined the Territorials [20th January 1914], the 7th (City of London) Battalion, the London Regiment. In July, my Company Commander wrote to Jays [the firm he worked for] asking if I could have leave to go to annual camp. They replied that in view of my short service with them, they could not give me leave, but would discharge me for a week and if I applied at the end of it,they would take me back. Annual Camp started on the 2nd of August; War was declared on the 4th of August; I was mobilized on the 5th of August; I had lost my job.

Dissatisfaction with their status also spurred economic activism by workers. Perhaps most critically, the contrast between the suffering of the workers and the ostentatious wealth of the owners angered many. E. Patterson remembered looking out his window at night and seeing the line-up of carriages outside Sunderland’s upper-class theaters:

...when [the] theater had some big plays on the carriages used to extend right from the Theater along Fontaine Road waiting for to take their owners home after the show. My brother and I used to look at them from our bedroom window and debated how many bags of coal they could carry.

Many joined or organized unions. The last two decades of the 19th century witnessed much unionization: by 1910, British unions boasted membership of over six million, more than any other industrial power except Germany. Things quieted somewhat at the turn of the century, but as Britain’s economic slide continued , industrial magnates attempted to regain their profitability by resisting further wages and benefit rises. In 1911, a wave of strikes started up which rivalled anything previously seen in Britain: the number of man-hours lost to strike reached 40 million by 1913, ten times the 1901-1910 average. In 1911, the miners in South Wales, and around the country, struck for almost a year. In 1912, the dockworkers in Liverpool attempted something similar, and in 1913-14, workers in other fields fought for better wages by walking out of work. Joseph Leftwich, a working-class Jew living in East London, wrote about the strikes:

There is Revolt abroad. Rebellion everywhere. Strikes, Revolutions, and at the end of them all, things remain as they were. In England there was a General Strike of dockers and a larger one of all sections of transport workers who joined cause with the dockers...

The strike worried the government and press, as can be seen in their reactions noted by Leftwich. The papers raged against the strike. Leftwich said that: "[t]he Press is in a fury about what it terms a 'threatened Civil War'" and as a result it produced numerous stories attacking the strikers, one of which Leftwich quoted:

The 'Daily Express' has an article to prove that strikes cause infant-starvation and mortality. The writer suggests that persons responsible for strike--agitators--shall be treated as criminals or lunatics and incarcerated in an asylum or gaol. He also suggests that John Burns as the responsible minister should compel medical men to put 'strike' on death certificate, where the strike is the cause of 'rickets', 'fever', or 'malnutrition' or any other cause of death. The man who thinks this will prevent strikes must be very ignorant of working class conditions.

The government reacted by sending troops to the affected areas either, as it claimed, to keep the peace or, as Leftwich believed, to settle the strikes by force:

They [the soldiers] look quite a good humored lot of men--and at a word of command they would be ready to shoot down the strikers--that's what they came here for. After such an insult and challenge, it seems strange that the workers should consent to end their strike.

Though the war for the most part ended the strained relations between employers and employees, it did not necessarily end the difficult economic times. In some areas, unemployment at first increased. Many industries lost the markets for their goods, either because of the blockade of Germany or because the European nations at war could no longer afford to purchase inessentials. The shipping and storage industry, dependent on the movement of goods into the European market, suffered almost immediately. This downturn pushed men into the army. Winnie Parker witnessed this process first-hand:

[My Dad]came back in a little while to tell us that the Canal was completely at a standstill and there'd be no more work for who-knows-how long. My oldest brother Tom was seventeen, and he told Mam not to worry, as he'd join the army and give her his pay.’

F. Battersby, who worked in a warehouse, lost his job within three weeks of the war beginning. Without alternatives, a recruiting depot caught his eye:

At that time I worked as a warehouse assistant, a very junior one for 6/- a week, I had to take a tram to get into town and about the 20th of August I was sacked, excuse no work. I still wandered around the town looking for work and on the 3rd of September feeling very fed up, I stood by the Town Hall and watched the enormous queue that wound round the building and finding that I was as big as anyone else I got into the queue.

Even the coal industry suffered. J. Newsted, a miner in Hetten le Hole fell victim to the slowdown at the beginning of the war. He enlisted because "[t]he pits were only working two days a week and we couldn’t get kept."

Also notably affected was the textile industry in the north, which essentially shut down upon the opening of war. The Northern mills closed and Lancashire suffered a sharp economic downturn. As late as the middle of 1915, when other industries were flourishing, cotton mills were still closing. Albert Williams remembered:

It was mid-1915 and for some time there had been some employees laid off, owing to the shortage of cotton. On this particular morning the general manager made an appearance and told the assembled workpeople that, owing to the war, the supply of cotton was curtailed and he was forced to close the mill indefinitely.

As a result, hundreds, if not thousands, of men were thrown out of work. G. Davis was one of them. Believing that employment would remain scarce as the war continued, Davis joined the army:

...I joined up because I thought there would be some slack times and I couldn’t pay my board.

Combined with the rising prices that marked the war’s beginning, and the loss of employment meant severe hardship for many working-class families. Isaac Rosenburg’s desperation echoed not only the wartime employment problems for workers, but also the pre-war problems and alternatives. He and his friend Joseph Leftwich walked the streets of East London, discussing their problems and seeking answers:

I had been walking the streets with Rosenberg for weeks, both hopelessly unemployed, unwanted, before he decided to join the Army, unwilling to go on living on his family; in the Army his mother would received his separation allowance. He had been in the same hopeless plight before, when sick at heart he had in 1911 tried to persuade me to join him in making the journey to America on a cattle boat.

Rosenberg felt little, if any, patriotism. His decision to join came from economic desperation. A letter to Ezra Pound in 1915 illustrated both of these facets:

As to your suggestion about the army I think the world has been terribly damaged by certain poets (in fact any poet) being sacrificed in this stupid business. There is certainly a strong temptation to join when you are making no money.

Rosenburg was not alone; when Bill Albin looked around at his fellow enlistees and tried to discern their reasons, he came to the conclusion that "I think money was the attraction as they were all out of work."

Some of the unemployment had little to do with economics. Unemployed men of a certain age found it difficult to find a job because companies, for patriotic reasons, refused to hire them. Arthur Bonney ran into this when his firm shut its doors at the beginning of the war and he looked for other employment: "Nobody else would take you on, because you were 19, of military age." In the end, he joined up, not out of patriotism, but "for a job, really....[I d]rifted into it."

Strikes, which continued during the war, increased unemployment and, ironically, helped recuriting. George Pollard and his workmates went on strike in September of 1914 and many of them felt the loss of their wages keenly. Some joined up to replace the lost salary:

At that time I was serving my apprenticeship at Howard and Bullough’s. There was a strike on then and this was why so many joined up. I can’t say it was mine. I just wanted to go into the Army. As an apprentice my wage was 10/6d a week. Because we were on strike we got nothing. When you joined up you got 21/- a week.

Though George denied that economic motives impelled him, clearly they influenced his workmates. Moreover, his denial rings somewhat hollow, given his detailed knowledge of the relative salaries of the apprenticeship and the army’s.

The army offered work in a range of specialities and thus gave men a chance to use their skills. Though monetary reasons may not have been his primary motive, A.J. Kingston still made an economic calculation when he joined up by angling for a spot where he could use his blacksmithing skills:

Well the call for volunteers for the army and believe me they came in thousands, being a smith I tried for farriers jobs as horses was the transport of the day.

Motorman T.W. Bedwell took advantage of the skilled position openings, but arranged a commitment from his civilian firm to hold his job for him until the war ended. Frank Turner also mentioned the specialist options when he joined immediately after the beginning of the war:

On August 7th, 1914 Recruiting Offices were opened at Elementary Schools in London. I had another go at joining up. The Army put adverts in Daily Papers applying for men with special trades they wanted and they offered special rates of pay trades like Blacksmith, Fitters and Turner, Saddlers,, Bakers and Butchers, and Motor Drivers. There was also included in this list Good Clerks for special duties. I decided to apply for one of these jobs.

The availabilitity of such openings convinced some who otherwise might have remained civilians. F.J. Orton ignored the initial recruitment call in August 1914. Having just finished his apprenticeship and found a job, he felt reluctant to leave:

I was by then (August 1914), a ‘journeyman’ fitter, having worked my 7 years ‘apprenticeship’ in Machine Tool manufacture, and was working in a lace making factory on the maintenance of lace machines.

His success at finishing and finding a job made him reluctant to join up. But in December 1914, he found a position that suited his skills in the Army. Given the chance to continue in his chosen trade, he enlisted:

In December 1914, I saw an appeal for skilled mechanics to join the Army Ordnance Corps in Armament Artificers. I went to Woolwich Arsenal where I had a Trade Test which lasted a week. I passed this successfully and was then enlisted as an Armament Artificer Staff Sergeant in the AOC.

Some men, employed or not, believed the army offered them training for a chosen profession not available in civilian society. L.S. Price felt that if he gained a position as an officer’s batman, he could go improve his position in domestic service when he left the army. When he joined in September 1914, his motivations included patriotism but also economic calculation:

If there was a motive behind my patriotism, it was perhaps to advance my station in civvie life, though in truth, this could hardly be called more than a secondary consideration. Like a good many at that time, I was employed in service--a footman to be precise--and as you may guess, not overpaid. It occurred to me that if I could obtain a post as officer's batman, it would further my credentials and [might] lead to all sorts of possibilities.

Some men gained new skills by joining up. Charles Burne worked as an apprentice in a car garage prior to the war. The outbreak gave him the chance, he felt, to further his technological education. "I[‘d] always been mad on anything mechanical," and so he joined the Royal Air Service as a mechanic. Others managed to keep their civilian positions by joining the military. John Cordy, a medical officer, encountered a wounded soldier who had "joined the army to be a servant to his civilian life master who had joined up as an officer." Guy Buckeridge encountered another example of this event:

He was about 50...and in ordinary life, a man servant....His civlian chief had re-joined as an Engineer Officer and he had joined in order, if possible, to accompany him, as his Army servant....He was married and gave up all his personal comforts to follow another man, who seemed to be his ideal.

G. Bird aimed for a similar post, explaining his reasons clearly:

I am thinking of volunteering to be an officer’s groom, the commanding officer asked last week....I am out to better myself if I can. I have nothing to against me here no one here would have a grudge against me for I am popular with them all.

The reasonable wages on offer also attracted men to the Army. A.G. Ransley realized that a military wage was more than he earned working as an office-boy and consequently enlisted:

No war hero! Heard through office colleague that we could earn more in the Army! Fought our way in to the recruiting office in New Scotland Yard Whitehall and enlisted into the Army Pay Corps.

Critically, the money offered by the army, while perhaps not rivalling that a full-time worker might receive, did frequently equal or outstrip that earned by young men, a group particularly coveted by recruiting officers. A.G. Ransley [above] was an example of this. Another was R.E. Foulkes, who had just finished his plumbing apprenticeship in 1914 and was starting out as a journeyman plumber. Twenty years old, he had never earned a high wage and the money offered for enlistment attracted him.

Fourteen shillings and all found was great wealth to a Plumber's apprentice who never drew more than 11s per week.

Since the Army provided his clothes and food, the lure of the higher wage proved even greater. For some who had never earned an adult salary, the money even came as a bit of a shock. E.C. Palmer said as much:

I was dumbfounded; I had no idea we would be paid. Let me tell you, three shillings and sixpence was quite a lot of money in those days to a lad not yet sixteen. I don't think I spent it on riotous living but I do know that the little cafe at the end of Sun Street saw my custom for buns and tea now and again.

Palmer’s remark strongly suggests that the economic attraction of joining the Army was especially strong for young men, who had either never been steadily employed or had not had time to work their way into positions of relatively high pay.

The security of the wage attracted G.E. Ramshaw, who worked in a colliery. The lack of business there meant that, when the war started, involuntarily "I was on holiday....it was the first holiday I ever had, really." Upon returning to work, he could only get three shifts a week. The underemployment decided him on enlistment, and justified his long-held interest in the military:

I always liked to be working and I couldn’t get enough work and I always had the desire to be in the Army. It was in my blood somewhere.

Note that here economic motivations seem to serve as something of a rationale. Ramshaw phrased so as to emphasize the rational and emotional economic motives ("liked to be working...couldn’t get enough work") while presenting his attraction to the military on an irrational and almost involuntary level ("had the desire...in my blood somewhere....").

A soldier could send home part of his wages, and the army added an allowance to support the family. P. Carroll’s family lost their father at age 10. Unemployed at the start of the war, he had managed to support his mother and siblings by selling firewood. But the separation allowance offered more: enough that they could live comfortably. J.A. Wilkinson’s army wage and allowance supported his sister’s family while she and her husband tried to find full-time work:

I am sorry to hear that your work is short and that Syd as not been pulling in any extra work....I won't forget to send the money as soon as I get it....If you happen to come out of work altogether let me know right away I will let you have all my pay bar a few coppers...

Further, the Army fed and housed enlistees and if the accomodations were barely adequate and the food often nearly inedible, it was one less mouth at home. Jeff Pritchard enlisted at age 14 because he felt himself an added burden to the household:

I was very keen to get into the army. The only problem was my age--fourteen and a half. My mother was poorly in a country home and my father had six other mouths to feed. So one morning, I just walked away from my job as a cart-handler down the mine and went to the recruiting office.

Again the economic motives appear to have been not the sole motive but a powerful and seemingly decisive one. Pritchard’s phrasing implies that his "keen[ness]" (perhaps an immature motive?) was not enough to override his age but that the task of relieving his family of another burden was (a more mature reason). P. Carroll believed that reducing the numbers his parents had to feed would help greatly and thus "thought it would be best if I joined the army."

For many men it proved the first time that they ate or bathed with any regularity. Robert Roberts, a youth in the slums of Salford, believed that the army food was, for many, the best that they had ever had. F. Perry joined up and found that ""I enjoyed my training...we had plenty of food and a good variety and I was fit as could be." G. Bird found that army training taught him more than just how to fight:

We are learning a lot of arts about warfare, we have learned a lot about cleaniness to clean your teeth well and to keep all the dirt of your heads for it just causes bad berms and they cause deceises [sic].

Many men, stunted by years of hard, indoor labor and malnourishment fourished under the outdoor training and the relatively plentiful food. H. Clegg remembered the process:

Marching, digging and shovelling in the Kentish chalk had worked wonders with the physique of all, everybody grew out of all recognition during the weeks engaged in trenching.

This sort of metamorphasis can only have reaffirmed the rightness of the choice made by enlistees. They returned, remade by their training, their sheer vitality likely overriding any reasoned objections. The same process, in reverse, occurred in 1916 when a stream of dead and mutilated men came home from the Somme. Robert Roberts remembered exactly that reaction:

In the first few months of hostilities many local recruits returning on their first furlough astonished us all. Pounds–sometimes stones–heavier, taller, confident, clean and straight, they were hardly recognizable as the men who went away. Others, seeing the transformation, hurried off to the barracks.

Even those workers who enlisted for non-monetary reasons discussed the economics of joining, as J.T. Baldwin remembered. He and his friends wished to enlist for patriotic reasons, but were reluctant to leave their jobs:

We three friends, Harold Menday, Reg. Walker, and I had for some days talked of enlisting, although we were each in good employment.

The government was aware of these concerns and Army propaganda addressed both the economic issues of, and reasons for, joining the forces. As early as August 1914, recruiting pamphlets emphasized the monetary benefits of enlistment:

You are not asked to serve for the money you can make out of it, but to help your Country. At the same time it is worth mentioning what the conditions of service are....The private soldier in the Infantry on joining gets 6/8.5 a week clear of all expenses. In other branches of the service, the pay is higher. It is also naturally higher for those who become non-commissioned officers or do special duties. For terms consult the nearest Recruiting Officer, whose address you can ascertain at any Post Office or Labor Exchange.

Two interesting features mark this quotation. First, the initial line neatly sidestepped the issue of patriotism by making it clear that the government neither asked nor expected men to join merely for economic reasons. By assuming an unspecified, presumably patriotic primary reason for enlistment, the pamphlet implicitly exempted men from feeling defensive about personal economic considerations. Second, the final line indicated that recruiting officers regularly set-up shop in Labor Exchanges, further evidence of the military’s awareness of economic motives in enlistees. Where better to convince a man that his best interest lay in enlisting than in an office designed to find jobs for those unemployed? William Beveridge, head of the Board of Trade and the man who oversaw the Labor Exchanges, specifically ordered his divisional managers to assist recruiting officers:

[managers] should also draw attention of unemployed men to the posters, and in every way assist the recruiting officers as much as possible.

Nor did the government alone make economic arguments concerning the war. Those opposing the war used similar grounds, understanding the crucial nature of such reasoning. On 21 August 1914, the Independent Labor Party (an offshoot of the Labor Party) passed out a pamphlet at a Welsh colliery, arguing against the war in explicitly economic terms:

Hardly less dread is the position of the women and children at home who are dependent on those who are under arms, and the countless workers and their families who are plunged into unemployment and destitution by the war. Almost no conceivable effort–even if the food supply of the country holds out–will prevent the occurrence of fearful privation amongst them.

This was a more general, class argument than the one made by the government. The ILP used language that appealed to the workers as a group, and emphasized the need for group solidarity to stand against the war. Other anti-war protestors spoke more specifically. At a meeting in London on 4 September 1914, the lead speaker, Ernest Pack, argued that:

"I do say this–a man has no right to volunteer (to join the Army)–if by volunteering he leaves his wife, his child, or his mother at the mercy of the charity of his country....[Claims that separation allowances are too low] Is this the way the richest country in the world ought to behave?...You see at every street corner 'Your King and Country Need You'. I suppose they do, but it's rather a new discovery, isn't it? Charlie Wilson didn't say that during the strike, did he?...Plenty of death and a hell of a lot of 'glory' but precious little grub for your wives and kids at home.

This was a more direct language, one aimed at the day-to-day economic struggle of workers who might enlist. Pack, by emphasizing the specifics of home and hearth, perhaps sought to strike at exactly that Army propaganda which raised the issue. Further by bringing in the pre-war labor unrest, Pack attempted to reconnect the pre-war and wartime, a connection broken in the minds of both public and government. His arguments aimed to undercut economic motivations to join by reminding workers of their subservient and oppressed position in British society.

Of course, in the case of those,who mixed patriotism and a desire for work, this undercutting was unlikely to succeed. As H.J. Cripps demonstrated, the two motives were not mutually exclusive:

[I joined up] partly because I couldn’t get a job and partly out of patriotism I suppose or following the band and seeing what it was all about.

Such a mixture of motivations would effectively deny any connection between pre-war and wartime economic calculations. In such a calculation, August 4th stood as a moment of redefinition when a spirit of cooperation supplanted the hostility of pre-war labor practices. Suddenly, labor-management relations became amicable rather than confrontational. J.W. Paling, whose father managed the Newport Iron Works, remembered exactly that:

When war was declared on August 4th, I well remember the response from those of age to enlist from the office staff. They wanted to volunteer and asked me to go in and ask my father to see them. They wanted to know what their position would be when the war was over. He agreed to make up their army pay to their office pay and, if the war was not over this year, all annual wage increases would be maintained. He commended them for their loyalty and sense of duty and told them he would do all he could for their dependants should they need help at any time.

The economic balance tilted towards the workers as the war progressed. Demand for skilled workers increased both in the military and civilian world as Britain geared herself up to build and equip a mass army. In February, 1915, The Daily Mail claimed that workers never had it better: "There never were such times for the working-class." As early as December 1914, the northern economy, led by the Newcastle coal industry, surged Unemployment shrank during 1915, and labor shortages chronically hampered production. Many industries struggled to find workers. For example, unemployment in the building trade had dropped, by this point, below 2%, the "irreducible minimum," leaving many contractors without enough workers for their jobs. Companies around the country, most notably munitions works and collieries, complained of the difficulty of finding workers.

The poverty driving much of the earlier enlistment dwindled. Robert Roberts recalled the process and its visible signs:

....abject poverty began to disappear from the neighborhood. Children looked better fed...Well before the end of the war the number of pupils taking free dinners at our school fell to one fifth of the pre-1914 figures.

For some, however, their wages did not provide all the money they sought. J.W. Horner felt dissatisfied with his wages, working at an engineering firm in March, 1915. The pay the army offered may not have improved upon his civilian wage, but it certainly rivalled it. That parity made him, and likely other working-class men, more willing to give in to their other motives and enlist:

"It was a gold grey day on March 12th, 1915, when my pal, Bill Hill and I were going back to work in the afternoon. I was in the Engineering trade, Billy in the shoe industry. I was working 48 hours per week for a wage of 7 shillings per week and one and a half pence a day for going in at 7 o’clock in the morning to light the fires--that was my spending money, spent in riotous living--a piece of fish with chips, on a plate, and eaten in a fish and chip shop, in Church Gate, all for two pence, then later, seated in the Gods at the Palace, two pence; up the stairs, waiting in the cattle pens....I was just over 17 years old at that time, and on the way to work, we were discussing things in general, when one of us, I don’t recall who, suggested that we go and join the Army. No sooner said than done.

W.E. Baker, living in North Buckinghamshire, still felt short of cash in the autumn of 1915. He had a job, but was:

...as usual, short of pocket money, I called at the local recruiting office, and signed-on. I received the King’s Shilling for joining, a shilling for the day’s rations, and a khaki arm-band which I never wore.

In late 1915, the growing threat of conscription altered the balance yet again. Enlistment figures had held approximately steady from the beginning of 1915 but the demands of the French battlefields meant that that amount was no longer enough. The British government started to think about starting conscription. If Parliament instituted conscription, men could no longer expect either to remain in work or choose the branch that they entered. For those making the enlistment decision based on patriotism or a desire for adventure, this change probably meant little [although the shame of being conscripted as opposed to volunteering affected those with patriotic motivations. See Chapter 10]. For those with economic motives, the change loomed large. Choosing a particular specialty meant a larger wage and the chance to earn that wage without being wounded or killed. Few outlined their reasoning in detail, but Joe Woollin, a miner from Yorkshire, laid down his own calculations in his memoirs (written in the third person). Woollin’s comments illustrate not only the blunt economic calculation that went into many workers’ decisions to enlist but also their ready willingness to manipulate the system to their advantage. Patriotic or not, workers, as Joe puts it in the following quote, had their "eye on the main chance":

To understand why he enlisted from what could well have been a reserved occupation [coal-mining] it is necessary to know something of his background. When war broke out in 1914 Joe was in his early twenties, married with a young daughter. He was a coal miner and his upbringing had not been easy....Joe will readily admit that he always had his eye on the main chance, and soon found out that in the army the pay in the transport corps was well above that of the humble footslogger. He decided that when he joined up it would be as an ex-driver rather than as an ex-miner....Joe was aware that, being young and physically fit, there would be no question of his future in the event of such concription....He decided that he would not wait to be conscripted, almost certainly into the infantry. He enlisted into a transport corps, diplomatically omitting to mention his occupation as a miner. By so doing he ensured that his army pay, plus his wife's allowance together totalled more than his earnings had been as a coal-miner.

Clearly, Woollin (and likely other working class men analyzed the situation on an individual and general level. Serving their country they might be, but that service gave them personal advantages as well.

Clearly, there is strong anecdotal evidence for economic motivations affecting enlistment. Were the sentiments expressed by the above men general to the larger population of workers? Did economic factors influence a preponderance of the labor force? If economic motivations truly played a large part in enlistment, then workers in trades with rising wages and low unemployment likely would volunteer at lower rates than those in less successful businesses. Enlistment percentages would thus be lower in thriving industries than in failing ones. Fortunately, the British government broke down enlistment by job, allowing a fairly detailed analysis of the percentages of men joining up from individual industries. Because the growth in employment was not uniform, an analysis should reveal some of the effects of economic success on enlistment.

The government ranked occupations according to their necessity to the war effort: those classified ‘A’ were industries in which more than 50% of the workers worked on government contracts, those classified ‘B’ did between 25-50% government work, and those classified ‘C’ did less than 25%. Thus, for example, shipbuilding was an ‘A’ industry; sugar refining was a ‘B’ industry, and lace-making was a ‘C’ industry.

Trade Classifications:

Number Employed (1911 Census):

Number Enlisted (August 1914-July 1915):

Employ-ment growth:

Enlistment %:

Employment Growth [%}

‘A’ Trades

1,821,500

368,800

283,500

15.5

‘B’ Trades

2,198,000

435,200

95,600

4.3

‘C’ Trades

2,353,600

473,500

40,500

1.7

Total

6,373,100

1,267,500

419,600

6.6

Those trades without much government work [the ‘C’ trades, above] grew at a slower rate (1.7%) than those with some government work [the ‘B’ trades] (4.3%) and both expanded at much less of a pace than those industries with a great deal of government work [the ‘A’ trades](15.5%).

This employment trend becomes even more pronounced if female workers are considered:

1. Trade Classifications:

2. Number Employed (1911 Census):

% of Total Workforce:

3. Employment Contraction or Expansion [since July 1914]:

Employment Growth [%}

‘A’ Trades

214,500

+39,200

18.2

‘B’ Trades

475,800

+47,200

9.9

‘C’ Trades

1,696,600

—16,700

—0.9

Total [female]

2,386,900

+69,700

2.9

Women moved in a wave into the ‘A’ and ‘B’ trades. In the ‘C’ trades there was a net loss of women workers, either because they had switched to munitions work or because they had been fired and replaced with men. Combining the two, we reach:

1. Trade Classifications:

2. Number Employed (1911 Census):

3. Employment Expansion [since July 1914]:

Employment Growth [%}

‘A’ Trades

2,036,000

322,700

15.8

‘B’ Trades

2,673,800

142,800

5.3

‘C’ Trades

4,050,200

23,800

0.5

Total:

8,760,000

489,300

5.6

Trade Classi-fications [Employ-ment growth]:

Number of Men age 18-40 and Physi-cally Fit to Serve*:

Number Enlisted (August 1914-July 1915):

% En-listed [Of Total]:

%En-listed [of male workers]:

% En-listed [Of Prewar Male workers plus those hired after the war began]:

% En-listed [Of eligible and phy-sically fit]:

‘A’ Trades [15.8%]:

727,200

368,800

‘B’ Trades [5.3%]:

841,700

435,200

‘C’ Trades [0.5%]:

875,400

473,500

Total

2,444,300

1,267,500

Thus, after the start of the war, the ‘A’ trades grew, overall, by nearly 16% The ‘B’ trades by more than 5%, and the ‘C’ trades remained essentially stagnant, growing only by 0.5%. Clearly, the ‘A’ trades offered more, on an economic basis, to the workers, both in terms of employment and, it is likely, of wages. How did this affect enlistment? Table 4 [below] shows the enlistment rates for the various trade classifications, both overall and of those within the eligible age range and fit.

The figures are somewhat mixed. When taken as a percentage of the overall workforce, enlistment rates are higher in the ‘A’ and ‘B’ trades than in the ‘C’ trades, by a minimum of 24%, a fairly substantial difference. Does this mean that workers in better-performing industries enlisted at a higher rate than those worse-off? Not really: the figures are distorted by the high number of women workers in the ‘C’ trades and relatively few in the ‘A’ and ‘B’ trades: women made up 42% of workers in the ‘C’ trades, and only 11 and 18% in the ‘A’ and ‘B’ trades [see Table 2]. If only male workers are considered, the picture changes. All three enlistment percentages cluster around the average of 19.89%. The spread between the three is less than half a percentage point, a difference of about 3%. No one trade classification does markedly better or worse than another. This again does not suggest that economic factors played a general role in shaping enlistment.

But this only compares enlistment rates to pre-war employment levels and does not reflect the employment expansion in each classification. During the year over which the enlistments occurred the industries were growing either quickly or more slowly, thus changing the level of employment. When the amount of employment expansion is factored in, the percentages change again. The ‘C’ industries stay at nearly a 20% enlistment rate, with the ‘B’ industries nearly as high. The ‘A’ industries, meanwhile, drop back to 17.52%, lower than the other two. When looked at by percentage of eligible men (men of the right age and physical fitness) enlisting, the situation changes even more dramatically. Enlistment in the ‘C’ industries is higher than both the ‘A’ and ‘B’, by more than 4 and 12 percentage points, respectively. Over 50% of those in ‘C’ trades enlisted, compared to 40% of those in ‘A’ trades, a sizeable difference. These figures strongly suggest that economic motives played a role in affecting enlistment on a nationwide basis. Industries which, because of their government work, thrived during wartime sent fewer of their eligible men than industries that did not. This general examination thus backs up the anecdotal evidence and demonstrates a correlation between economic success and lower enlistment rates.

But the ‘A’ and ‘C’ classifications are only a loose guide to economic success or decline. Not all ‘A’ trades expanded enormously; not all ‘C’ trades collapsed. Within each set of classifications, some industries prospered or decayed more than others. What did enlistment do in those situations? Choosing five examples of each (industries that grew or shrank at a much higher than average rate) gives us these ten industries, their growth or shrinkage in employment, and the enlistment rate of their workers [Table 5]

Industry [Class]:

Number of Work-ers Employed:

Number of Workers of Age and Physi-cal Standard:

Growth/Shrin-kage in Employment [Number/%]:

% Growth/Shrin-kage in Employment:

En-listed:

Enlistment Rate [% of Total]:

Enlist-ment Rate [% of those fit and of age]:

1. Brick, cement [B]

77,800

29,200

-11,100

-14.2

14,600

2. Jewellry, watch, and clock-making [C]:

44,300

15,500

-5,600

-12

7,700

3. Quarries [B]:

98,700

35,800

-10,300

-10.4

14,100

4. Tinplate [A]:

22,500

8,700

-1,000

-4.4

3,700

5. Printing [C]:

165,600

63,600

-4,000

-2.4

34,900

6. Small Arms [A]:

6,500

2,200

9,900

152

1,100

7. Explosives [A]:

6,900

3,200

5,800

84

1,200

8. Shipbuilding [A]:

163,800

64,100

49,600

30

27,000

9. Preserved Meats [C]:

12,700

6,200

3,700

29

3,100

10. Leather/ Leather Goods [A]:

66,600

23,700

19,200

29

13,900

Total--Shrinking Industries [nos. 1-5]

Total--Growing Industries [nos 6-10]

At the extremes of growth or shrinkage, the percentage gap is larger: shrinking industries sent 20% of their total workforce to the military, while growing industries sent only 14%. The disparity is even more extreme when only eligible and fit men are considered: 58% for shrinking industries and 29% for growing. The highest enlistment for growing industries is 37% (leather goods) while the lowest for shrinking industries is 46% (tinplating).

Trades [Class]:

Number of Workers Employed:

Number of Workers of Age and Physical Standard:

Growth/ Shrinkage in Employment [Number/%]#:

Enlisted:

Enlisted [as % of total work force]*

Enlisted [as % of those fit and of age]+:

Building

1,022,700

369,200

-46,000

196,400

Brick, Cement

77,800

29,200

-11,100

14,600

Quarries

98,700

35,800

-10,300

14,100

Jewellry

44,300

15,500

-5,600

7,700

Printing

165,600

68,600

-4,000

34,900

Engineering:

588,400

233,900

76,500

114,700

Shipbuilding

163,800

64,100

49,600

27,000

Iron/Steel

311,400

124,400

44,200

56,700

Coal Mining

1,121,400

458,000

40,400

247,800

Boot and Shoes

198,700

64,800

23,300

31,600

Total (Shrinking Industries):

Total (Growing Industries):

But the extreme cases tended to be those with a relatively small number of workers. Together, the ten industries in Table 5 make up only about 10% of British industrial workers. If we examine industries with the largest absolute number of jobs gained or lost [which are also, for the most part, those with the greatest number of workers], what do the figures look like then?

Table 6 shows much the same pattern. In industries which, combined, included 60% of Britain’s male industrial population, declining industries saw enlistment rates of over 57% of eligible men, while growing industries saw rates substantially less than that, about 43%. The evidence both overall and in examinations of particular industries, strongly suggests that economic motives influenced enlistment. Certainly not the only one; had economics alone determined enlistment then those industries thriving through 1915 would have seen volunteering from their ranks disappear. That this did not happen from, for example, coal-mining [one of the quickest growing industries in 1915] is clear from Lord Derby’s appeal in December of that year:

Coal Miners have already joined the Army in such large numbers that the supply of coal, which is of vital national interest, is seriously affected. Miners one and all must remember that upon their efforts the succes of the Country depends, no less than upon the men who are serving with the Forces. Those who offer themselves as recruits will only be accepted on the condition that they go back to work in the mine until they are called upon; they will be given armlets to show that they are willing to obey the call and do whatever will most help their Country; but in the meantime it is vital that they should not desist from producing the coal without which victory is impossible.

George Cole, a miner, remembered that his company had to shut down several seams because too many men had volunteered and left work. Workers earning a good wage, with near-guaranteed job security, still enlisted and in large enough numbers to affect output, at least in the case of the coal industry.

There are a number of caveats, however. First, the number of workers were adjusted by the government for medical rejections: the War Office assumed that 70% of men between the ages of 18-40 would be able to pass the physical exam required for enlistment. There is no evidence to show that that assumption was correct or, more importantly, uniform over all industries. Thus, if workers from growing industries suffered a higher medical rejection rate than did those from shrinking industries, that would skew the enlistment figures. For example, taking two industries--one growing, one shrinking--and assuming a fitness rate of 65 and 75% alters the enlistment percentage dramatically [see Table 7]. If workers from the building trade passed the exam at a 75% rate, while coal-miners only managed a 65% pass rate, then their volunteering rates would actually be about the same; the disparity seen previously would be an artifact of the different physical conditions of the workers in the two industries.*

Industry:

Workers of Age 18-40

Growth/ Shrinkage in Employment

Number Fit (65%)

Number Fit (75%)

Enlistments:

Enlistment Rate [given 65% Fitness]

Enlistment Rate [Given 75% Fitness]

Building

527,400

-46,000

196,400

Coal Mining

654,300

40,400

247,800

Is there any evidence to suggest that workers in economically more successful industries were less likely to pass the physical exam than those in less successful industries? In other words, that the enlistment figures are skewed by other than economic factors? Pre-war statistics indicate that the government significantly underestimated the general medical failure rate of workers enlisting but that such rates remained relatively constant across industries. In 1909, the medical rejection rate ran at 299 men for every 1000 volunteers. Though this is in line with the government’s 30% figure, the height and weight standards were raised in 1910 and remained constant through 1914-1916 [excepting the two month period in late 1914 when Kitchener raised the minimum height] Further, as a recruiting officer explained in 1915, before the war, not all recruits underwent an official medical exam:

In considering the causes of rejection it should be borne in mind that, in the first place, when the recruit comes before the recruiter or recruiting officer, there is a preliminary weeding out, so that all cases do not come before the medical officer. Such cases are not included in the medical rejections as shown in the medical officer's statistics.

Such screening seems unlikely to have taken place in the mad rush of August-October 1914. In the period of late 1914 to early-middle 1915, there may have been more scrutiny, but the second-half of 1915, when pressure mounted to increase recruiting figures, probably saw a fall-off in eyeball rejections.

Later [ie after 1909] figures suggest that both the 1909 failure rate and the wartime figure of 30% were low. The findings of an individual recruiting officer, have enlistees failing the medical exam at a rate of nearer 50%. The number of recruits examined is low compared to 1914-1915, but still seem suggestive. Of 1766 enlistees in this sample, 848 failed the medical while 918 passed, a rejection rate of 48%. Since pre-war enlistees were likely to be from the lower levels of the working-class [given labor’s contempt for military service] this figure may be higher than a similar war-time one would be; nonetheless it implies that the government’s wartime figure of 30% was optimistic.

Beggs broke down his figures by industries. Though his industrial categories coincide only roughly with the official government divisions, the differentiation gives a sense of how the medical failure rate played out over various areas of the economy. The prewar rejection rate stayed at about that level across individual industries. In unskilled industries, the rejection rate was 49% while in skilled it was 47%, not a significant difference. Miner rejection rates ran at 43%, lower than other skilled industries, but still within striking distance of the average. Thus, while it seems that the government probably underestimated medical rejection rates for working-class men, the assumption that they were constant over all industries was justified. The larger point, that workers in less successful industries enlisted at a higher rate remains likely.

There is another source of bias in the enlistment figures. The percentages are figured by dividing those in the service in July 1915 by those working in the industry in the same month. The second figure is reached by adding the amount of growth or shrinkage in the industry to pre-war employment numbers. But that introduces another distortion. Of those enlisted by July 1915, a great preponderance would be between the ages of 18-40 [there was both over- and under-age enlistment]. There is no way of knowing the age breakdown of their replacements, though it likely contained fewer men within the eligible age range than the overall group of workers. If, as with the physical exams, the age percentages of the replacement workers differed, that too would have affected the enlistment rates. If, for example, all enlisting miners were replaced by men between the ages of 18-40, and all enlisting shipworkers were replaced by men over the age of 40, then by the beginning of 1915 the pool of men available to enlist from each industry would have changed drastically from the official figures, a change that would shift the enlistment percentages. But, as far as I can tell, there is simply no evidence one way or the other; either to suggest such a skewing or its absence. Nor is there reason to think that such a skewing occurred. Given that lack, I feel, we can only take the raw figures at face value.

Those industries growing at the fastest rates, especially in 1915, were also those from which workers were forbidden to enlist by the government. Thus, for example, the government quickly forbade coalminers from enlisting. As a result, part of the difference in enlistment rates may relate to coal-miners [or shipbuilders] who attempted to enlist, but were refused. Of course, such a refusal was not always the end result, as W. Watkins found out when he and several of his miner friends attempted to enlist. After being refused the first time, they found a more amenable recruiting sergeant:

We went through it all again and we were asked again, 'Where are you working?' One of the chaps, Frank Wallace, had an uncle who was a foreman in the quarry so we said, 'Oh we're working the in quarry.' 'Oh, that's all right, then,' he said, as long as you're not working underground. Strip off, then.' So we all stripped off and he had a good look at us. Now in those days it was reckoned a bad thing to wash your back, they said it was weakening. So he saw we all had a black patch on our backs. 'Oh yes,' he said, 'I can see you're working in the quarry, you little so-and-so's. Well, I'll pass it over, get on the scales.'

But nonetheless, many miners were prevented from enlisting and this probably affected enlistment rates for coal-miners in general. Similar assumptions can be made for other critical industries. Was this factor responsible for the difference in enlistment rates?

Trades+:

Growth/ Shrinkage in Employment, from August 1914-July 1915 [%]:

Enlisted [as % of of age], by December 1914:

Enlisted between April 1915 and July 1915 [% of men between 18-40]:

Building [C]

-4.5

23.8

5.4

Cotton [C]

2.1

18.7

6.8

Printing [C]

-2.4

23.2

7.1

Furniture/ Upholstery [C]

5.6

25.3

6.5

Bread and Biscuit [C]

15.3

20.7

8.4

Engineering:

13.0

25.2

3.3

Iron/Steel

14.2

24.6

3.2

Shipbuilding

30.3

22.7

2.1

Manufacturing [A]:

10.2

26.8

4.4

Cycle/Motor [A]:

11.3

22.6

4.7

Coal [B]@

+3.6

24.0

4.8

Total (C):

Total (A):

The restrictions were not placed until the beginning of 1915; thus, if they caused the rates to skew, such an effect should not be visible in enlistment rates in 1914. Table 8 examines the enlistment percentages of 10 industries [5 classified as ‘A’ and 5 as ‘C’ by the government, which roughly corresponds with industries from whom enlistment was forbidden [A] and those it was not [C]]. If the enlistment restrictions had significant effects then the December 1914 figures for enlistment should be roughly the same between the two sets of industries, while the April-July 1915 figures should show a sharp disparity between the two, with the ‘C’ industries contributing far more in the way of recruits than do the ‘A’ industries. That is, in fact, exactly what Table 8 shows. In December 1914, enlistees from the ‘A’ trades was slightly higher than that from the ‘C’ trades: 23.77% versus 22.34%. By contrast, the enlistment percentages from April-July 1915 show as almost the exact reverse, with the ‘C’ trades outenlisting the ‘A’ trades by 6.84 to 3.54%.

Does this, then, invalidate our above conclusion that economic success reduced the number of enlistees from a given industry? Possibly, but the effect in Table 8 could also arise from the differing economic growth rates. The ‘A’ trades in Table 8 grew at more than 4 times the rate of the ‘C’ trades. A theory based on that economic growth difference would explain the disparity in enlistment percentages as convincingly as government restrictions on joining up. For example, if the economy shrank, or stayed relatively the same, in the last few months of 1914 [when the British war effort relied primarily on the British Expeditionary Force and the Home Fleet--both built-up prior to the war] and then began to grow dramatically in 1915 [when Britain began seriously to build a mass army], economic influences on joining up would produce exactly the pattern seen in Table 8--equal enlistment in all industries until the end of 1914 and then shrinking enlistment in the expanding industries. How then to eliminate the variable of economic growth?

Trades+:

Growth/ Shrinkage in Employment, from August 1914-July 1915 [%]:

Enlisted [as % of of age], by December 1914:

Enlisted between April 1915 and July 1915 [% of men between 18-40]:

Textile dyeing [C]

8.1

24.3

5.3

Dressmaking/ Millinery [C]

7.9

28.1

9.4

Distilling [C]

7.4

26.0

5.9

Publication of Newspapers [C]

5.4

16.2

6.0

Stationery [C]

5.5

25.5

8.1

Cutlery [A]:

7.1

19.5

3.4

Manufacturing {A}

10.2

26.8

4.4

Wood Boxes [A]:

8.4

23.2

8.5

Total (C):

Total (A):

The answer lies in selecting ‘A’ and ‘C’ industries which grew or shrank at about the same rate. By eliminating economic growth as a variable (or, at least, minimizing it) we eliminate or minimize its effect on the enlistment rate. The average rate of growth for all trades was 6.9%. Taking only those trades which grew within a range of 5.1-10.2%, we arrive at Table 9:

Table 9 again suggests that governmental restriction did have an effect on enlistment from the more critical industries. The numbers closed on each other--the ‘C’ trades had a higher enlistment rate in December 1914 by a small margin and the rate of enlistment in ‘A’ trades from April-July 1915 gained on but did not overtake the ‘C’ trades. The ‘A’ trades again grew at a higher rate than the ‘C’ trades, but the disparity is much closer than in Table 8. What Table 9 does show is that the pattern of enlistment predicted should government restrictions have affected recruiting is present in the numbers, but relatively weak. Certainly, it is not enough to explain the larger disparity between enlistment in economically growing and shrinking industries. In the end, economics motivations played a large factor in both individual and mass enlistments. That they did so is undeniable; the personal testimony of volunteers and the statistical testimony of enlistment figures demonstrates strongly just such motivations. But just as undeniably is the influence of outside factors--age breakdowns, physical fitness levels, and governmental restrictions--in affecting the overall picture. On the personal level, as well, it is clear that other motives besides economics affected decisions to enlist. We have already seen workers’ desires to escape their domestic situation and seek adventure. But perhaps the most important, and certainly the most complex, motivation was patriotism. And it is that we turn to next.