Vimy bombers under construction at Linslade c.1917 [Z50/72/219b]
Thursday 14th September 1916: This afternoon’s meeting of the Linslade Military Service Tribunal saw a discussion about the difficulty of finding labour, especially for farms. The Tribunal was informed by Captain Green, the recruiting organiser for Buckinghamshire, that the War Office is now asking for another million men by next July, which will undoubtedly worsen the situation. One member of the tribunal expressed surprise that farmers did not make more use of soldiers as labour, though another said he had heard they were more trouble than they were worth. Farmers felt they could not push them the way they pushed their own men, feeling “they must be nice to them and give them a sort of picnic” – this caused amusement, as did the comment that this was “like the women workers”. The military representative said that women had done “splendidly” in some places, but that in this area farmers were not used to them and it was difficult to change local custom.
Captain Green told the tribunal of a new scheme for replacing fit men with men who had previously worked on farms and were only doing duty in labour battalions. This would then release men who were fit for general service. The Chairman thought this a good idea, but one that would be hard to make work. Captain Green said a list of men who could be demobilised from the Army would be sent to the tribunal and they could then be sent back to their original work as clearly “it would be useless to send a chair maker to milk a cow”. When asked whether there really were many men in the area who were eligible for service Captain Green stated that a nearby tribunal had dealt with seventy single men who could not be released for the military because they were the only men left. However, it was felt that this was more likely to be the case in rural rather than urban districts, where very few men were now available. This, it seemed, was the root of the problem. All the men who could be called up had now gone, and it would be necessary to turn to exempted men. A Commission was already sitting to decide what industries must be closed down.