Volunteer Force Certificate of Service

During the Great War there were volunteer home defence units across the country, roughly analogous to the Home Guard a decade later. These units met, drilled and patrolled to provide local defence in case of German invasion. Initially the government of the day had tried to discourage these units, however so many were formed that it instead reluctantly took them on as a limited part of the island’s defence. These units fell under the Aegis of the VTC, or Volunteer Training Corps, which gave some central instruction and order to the movement. By far the greatest number of these volunteers were in London where they were known as the ‘National Guard’.

The men who made up these volunteer units were those who were not otherwise suitable for military service due to age, infirmity or profession. These men were divided into four categories:

A Category Men- undertook to serve as Volunteers until the end of the war and to make themselves efficient by attending the authorised number of drills and passing the recognised tests. These men were fully recognised by the government and provided with equipment and eventually uniform.

B Category Men- mostly men of military age but exempted from service for the time being as munitions workers, miners, or for other reasons. These men were liable to be withdrawn from the Volunteer Force and sent abroad when their tribunal exemption was withdrawn.

C Category Men- boys under military age

D Category Men- no obligation at all and could leave the force at two days’ notice

Men often served for a short period before moving to the regular forces and this certificate was issued to one man who served in the Volunteers for a short time, presumably before being called up the regulars:

Private Frederick Stanley Baxter served for just over a year in London from the 28th September 1916 until the 20th October 1917. As the war still had more than a year to run, one must assume that at this point he was called up for regular service.

These certificates were produced by many different volunteer units across the country, varying as to how elaborate they are. This is a plainer example, but still no doubt well earned and appreciated by the recipient.

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