The Call to Arms

Recruitment in the town

A Leeds Pals Recruiting Tram
The Leeds Pals Recruiting Tram

At the outbreak of the Great War on 4-August-1914, Britain ‘s army was extremely weak compared to those of Germany and France and unprepared for a land war.

The country had relied on the navy to look after its military interests and had not had any conscription for many years unlike its European neighbours.

When the German invasion of Belgium led to war it was necessary to recruit men for the army as quickly as possible and an obvious source was those men who had been reservists.

Morley played its part here and the following cuttings from the Morley Observer shows the details.

Morley Reservists join the colours
Items about Morley Reservists joining the Army

However, Lord Kitchener realised that a large army would be needed and so it would be necessary to recruit men without previous military experience.

The recruiting drive was led by patriotic concerts and visits from military personnel. The Leeds recruiting tram is shown above and the cutting below shows the time when it came to Morley.

Concert and Recruiting Tram in Morley
Recruiting in Morley early in the War

The fighting in the Great War was savage and attritional.  Many men were killed and by 1916 the military could no longer recruit sufficient men for what was deemed to be its needs. Conscription was introduced in the first months of that year. This will be considered elsewhere

The official national records for recruitment in the Great War are now in a poor state and our attempts to build a picture for recruitment in Morley has suffered in consequence. At present we have the names of over 1500 men who fought and were associated with the town.

Morley Librarian Edward J Gentry
Morley Librarian Edwin J Gentry

However, the Morley Observer has stated that the local Librarian Edwin Gentry did compile a long list of such men. We have not been able to find this but the Observer states that it contained over 3500 names. Mr Gentry also submitted a Roll of Honour of men with local links who had perished in the War (MO: 9-April-1926).  We note that the officials used this information only as a guideline when constructing the town’s official Memorial and this, also, will be discussed elsewhere.