Vintage Video - British Recruiting Station, 1914

In the face of both popular and mainstream political opposition to mandatory military service, Britain was the sole major European power not to have in place a policy of conscription when war began in August 1914.

Although prominent individual politicians, including Winston Churchill, came out in favour of a policy of conscription in 1914, it wasn't until January 1916 that the British government introduced the first of a series of Military Service Acts which set out call-up regulations.

The introduction of the bill comprised a tacit acceptance on the part of the government that the previous approach to military service - the voluntary registration Derby Scheme - had failed to generate sufficient new recruits to stem the flow of losses on the various British battlefronts around the world.

Between August 1914 and the introduction of the first Military Service Act as many as three million men volunteered for military service.  From January 1916 until the close of the war a further 2.3 million men were formally conscripted into service.

'Alleyman' was British slang for a German soldier.

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