January

1916 - military conscription introduced in Britain

This cartoon shows a First World War conscript from Bank of Scotland’s London office.  The man shown is thought to be Andrew Barrie, a bank clerk.

We don’t know exactly when the drawing dates from.  But it was probably made around January 1916, when the First Military Service Act was passed by the British parliament.  This made all single men between 18 and 41 eligible for conscription into the army.

Barrie would have been 32 when the Act was passed.  We know very little about his military career, other than he entered the Army Service Corps (ASC) as a Private in 1916.  He is shown wearing spurred boots, which suggests he worked in the Horse Transport Section.

Andrew Barrie was one of 39 men from the London staff that served in the war.  Several of them never returned.  Barrie was one of the lucky ones.  He returned to work when the war ended, and was subsequently promoted to cashier.

This item is part of a large collection of sketches and caricatures drawn by clerks at the London office in the early years of the 20th century.

Originally done on scraps of paper, they were pasted into a blank ledger, cryptically titled Ledger No. 99.

Cartoon of First World War conscript from Bank of Scotland
Cartoon of First World War conscript from Bank of Scotland.

The drawings provide a unique insight into events during the First World War.  You can see several more in our First World War exhibition.

See further events from January.  Or return to the main This Month in History page to see events from other months.