Compulsory conscription was introduced following the Military Service Act in 1916 to initially include men between the ages of 19-41 years of age. This age and criteria was later extended. It was possible to claim exemption from conscription and regular tribunals were held across the country, for men who considered they met the necessary criteria such as: work which had national importance, business obligations or ill health.
At the tribunal Ernest stated that: ‘Since the death of his father ten years earlier he had taken over the management and financial control of the business for his mother, who was a licensed victualler. He was the only son at home and if he were called up it must inevitably mean the breaking up of his mothers business. A niece was also dependant on them for support’.
Ernest’s claim does appear to meet the exemption criteria but the Clerk refused the application stating: ‘If you are called up and you cannot get a manager, the licence will have to be transferred to someone else’. Ernest was given three weeks exemption to allow him to find a suitable manager but a month later he was back, appealing against the decision but once again it was refused and he was forced to volunteer.