In 1915 a scheme was introduced to boost recruitment into the army.  This scheme was the brainchild of Edward Stanley, the Director-General of Recruiting, who was also the 17th Lord Derby, hence the name of the scheme.  The main feature of this scheme was that volunteers could enlist and defer joining the army until a later date, such as sowing/harvesting a crop, seeing the birth of a child getting married etc.  The scheme brought limited success and was short lived.  The British Government then brought in compulsory enlistment – conscription.  The reports below come from the Thetford & Watton Times, now the Thetford & Brandon Times, during WW1.


November –

“A meeting held at Colonel Hamilton’s home to elect a committee to arrange for the carrying out of recruiting in the Brandon district, chose the following gentlemen to make the necessary arrangements. Colonel Hamilton, Dr Trotter, the Rev. Wyatt, the Rev. Williams, Messrs. A Rought Rought, G Wood, Raed, L Barber, F Ridsale, W Brown and F Mount, with Mr Shearman, London Road, as Hon. Secretary.”

December –

RECRUITING UNDER LORD DERBY’S SCHEME – The result of the recruiting under Lord Derby’s scheme in Brandon and district may be regarded as very satisfactory, and has raised the total number who have joined the colours in this area to somewhere about 400. Besides the town of Brandon the district includes Weeting, Feltwell, Hockwold, Lakenheath, and Methwold.  The scheme was worked by a local committee, consisting of Col. Hamilton (Chairman), Dr W.O. Trotter (Vice-Chairman), Messrs F.W. Gentle, G.Wood, A. Lee Barber, Read, A.W. Rought Rought, A.J. Winter, A. Goddard, S. Gates, J. Cooper, E. Wilby, F.J. Mount, W. Brown, H. Lingwood, and O. Lingwood. There were about a dozen canvassers working in couples, and their duties were very efficiently and tactfully carried out. In the Brandon district about 200 men were canvassed. Of these 187 were attested under the group system, leaving only a score or so who did not come forward.

There were altogether about 252 men of military age in the area, the balance between this total and the number attested being men who are medically unfit or otherwise ineligible for enlistment. Approximately 70 per cent of the recruits attested were married men.”


Single young men in Groups 2, 3, 4 and 5 of the Derby recruits, who are now under summons to join the colours on January 29th, have until December 30th in which to lodge appeals to be placed in a later group.  The grounds of appeal are indispensability to their employer or their own domestic responsibilities.

Official instructions how to appeal state:-

  • A claimant should obtain the official forms of notice of claim from the local tribunal.  In most cases the office of the local tribunal is at the office of the local municipal authority.
  • The local tribunal, on receipt of notice of claim, forwards it at once to the military representative.
  • The military representative, in consultation with his advisory committee, considers the claim, and if they agree that it is reasonable the claim is assented to.  In this case no formal proceedings before the local tribunal take place, and the claimant is simply notified by the local tribunal that his claim has been assented to.
  • If the military representative and the advisory committee consider that the claim should not be assented to, either because
  • The case is not one in which postponement should be allowed, or that postponement for more groups than is necessary has been claimed, the military representative notifies the local tribunal that the claim is objected to.  In this case the local tribunal fixes a date for hearing the claimant and the military representative.  If the claimant is dissatisfied with the decision of the local tribunal he has a right of appeal to the Central Appeal Tribunal.


January –

DRILL FOR RECRUITS – The Derby recruits in Brandon are invited to learn their drills with the Volunteer Training Corps, and the names of those desiring to avail themselves of the opportunity should be sent to Quarter-master Sergeant Wilby.  This plan has been adopted in other places, and enables recruits to join their units with at least some useful knowledge of their drills, their rifles, and the use of them.”

May 1916 –

LAST DERBY GROUPS – A proclamation to be issued on May 13th calling for service with the Colours as from June 18th the remaining groups under the Derby Scheme. These are group 24, covering married men of 18, and groups 42 to 46, which include the married men of 36, 37, 38, 39 and 40.”