York Cafe : Derby Recruitment Scheme

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A final attempt to obtain recruits voluntarily was attempted by Lord Derby (Director-General of Recruiting) in October 1915. Eligible men (those aged 18 to 40) were to be visited by canvassers who were to invite them directly (‘without bullying’) to voluntarily attest to serve in the Army. Those who agreed would be allowed to return to their current occupations, but would be obliged to come forward if called up later on. Attesting under the Derby scheme had a number of benefits. The men were allowed to wear a special armband, indicating they had shown their willingness to serve, so avoiding accusations of being ‘slackers’. They were also assured that they would be allowed to appeal when called up. They were to be placed into groups according to marital status and age. The single men would be called up first, starting with the youngest age groups. It was made known that voluntary enlistment would end on 15 December 1915.

The process took place in the York Cafe, located in the Alexandra Buildings and overlooking King Edward Street