Fighting conscription

First World War certificate of exemption (MH 47)

Why did men appeal against conscription?

In January 1916 the British Government introduced compulsory military service for all single men of military age.  Why did some men decide to apply for exemption from conscription? Students answer this question by critically examining the case papers of the Middlesex Appeals Tribunal, which, between 1916 and 1918, heard the appeals of men who previously applied to a local tribunal for exemption from military service. Through the individual stories held in these records students explore the impact of conscription on British society.

Connections to the curriculum:

  • Edexcel Thematic Study Option 12: Warfare and British society, c.1250–present.

Available as: On site workshop or virtual classroom. Find out more about the types of session we offer.

Session options

This session is delivered as a:


at The National Archives

2 hours

Virtual classroom

in your classroom

1 hour

Available:  All year

Cost: Free to UK schools

Suitability: Key stages 3 and 4

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All activities must be booked in advance.

Tel: +44 (0)20 8392 5365

Fax: +44 (0)20 8487 9202