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From The Great War 1914-1918

Derby: A man enlisted under the recruiting scheme introduced in the autumn of 1915 by Lord Derby, as Inspector General of Recruiting. Lord Kitchener's appeal of 1914, nobly responded to as it was at first, in the end failed to produce men sufficient to make good the enormous casualties of the war. To supplement it, Lord Derby's scheme of "group-recruiting" was introduced, as a last-hope effort under the Voluntary Enlistment system. It was heartily responded to, and in three months, to the end of 1915, brought in over two and a half million men. The ever increasing losses of the War, however, compelled, early in 1916, the passing of the Conscription Acts. Men of "Groups" or "Derbies" awaiting their turn to be called up, according to indispensability of occupation, wore armlets lettered G.R. (General Reserve). The German newspapers made mock of the scheme and foretold its failure; one comic illustrated paper caricaturing Lord Derby as drummer with a burst-in drum. [1]

References / notes

  1. Edward Fraser and John Gibbons (1925). Soldier and Sailor Words and Phrases. Routledge, London p.75.
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