Recent weeks have seen a steady number of military service recruits returning to the Island – discharged as unfit to serve in the British Army. The trend has raised questions over who exactly is being sent to serve, and who is receiving exemptions from the Military Service tribunals. It all adds to a growing belief that town residents are bearing the brunt of conscription, while those in the country parishes are managing to avoid their duty.
The latest recruit returning home is Herbert John Romeril, from St Helier, who joined the Hampshire Regiment in April 1917 following call-up under the new Military Service law. The 18-year-old only lasted until this week, however, having been unable to stand more than a few days’ training. Young Romeril had to spent two subsequent months in hospital recovering before being discharged.
Local commentators have raised the case of Romeril and others returning as examples of Jersey sending men least suitable for military service ahead of those being held back in essential occupations – chiefly farming. And, therefore, the whole imposition of the Military Service law being unfairly biased in favour of those living in the countryside.
A/E/5 contains correspondence on the implementation of the Military Service law in Jersey, including a June 1917 letter from the Lieutenant Governor noting that it had ‘not been too hard on the country to date’.