When men left the armed forces they were usually signed up to the National Reserve. This was a register of trained officers and men kept by county associations and they could then be called upon in times of national emergency, such as the outbreak of World War One. The men were divided up into three categories:
- Class I: officers and men under 42 years of age who satisfy the medical requirements to join a combatant unit for service at home or abroad;
- Class II: Officers, Warrant Officers and Sergeants under the age of 55, and men under the age of 50, who satisfy the medical requirements to join a combatant unit for home defence or for duty in fixed positions or administrative work at home;
- Class III: for those unable to undertake any obligation. This was divided into three sections: [a] those who were qualified for Class I; [b] those who were qualified for Class II; and [c] all others, who will be regarded as honorary members of the National Reserve.
- On reaching the age limit a man would be struck off the register for that Class but could voluntarily transfer his name to the next Class.
To show that they had served and were registered, county organisations presented the men of the National Reserve with an enameled lapel badge to show they had served their country and were prepared to do so again. These badges usually contained the name of the county organisation so many versions can be found, today we are looking at a rather battered example from Cheshire:
This is the most common version of the badge and has a crown surrounded by an enameled ring saying “National Reserve Cheshire”. It originally had a half moon lapel clip to the rear, but at some point this has been twisted and snapped off:
The War Office would inform each County Association of the number of Class I National Reservists required for each arm or department of the service. The relevant Territorial Force Association would receive specific orders regarding the number, where and when men should report and would issue necessary railway warrants and cash orders. Class I National Reservists would be medically inspected and then attested for service for the period of war, clothed and equipped and sent to the unit to which they were detailed. Service in the National Reserve would not count towards the qualifying period for Long Service awards.
Newspapers of 24 August 1914 were reporting that men of Classes I and II were being called up and would be able to enlist in the reserve battalions for one year or the duration of the war. They would be allotted to an infantry unit of the regimental area in which they lived, although men formerly of the cavalry, Royal Field Artillery, Royal Engineers, Royal Army Medical Corps, Army Veterinary Corps or Army Ordnance Corps may be appointed and posted to their own corps.