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Records show changing views

By Leek Post and Times  |  Posted: August 24, 2014

Van driver George Astles is pictured second from left.

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THOUSANDS of rare records detailing appeals made by people looking to avoid conscription into the First World War are to go on display.

The Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent Archive Service is looking to unveil the records after winning £37,000 from the Heritage Lottery Fund.

Historians believe more appeals were made as attitudes to the Great War changed.

Levison Wood, aged 61, secretary secretary of Blythe Bridge, Forsbrook and Dilhorne Historical Society, said: "These records highlight the changes in attitudes towards the war and show the contrast between how the war started, with people enthusiastically joining up, to the war-weary end. It is important to remember war wasn't a glorious adventure – it came with a darker side – and this demonstrates that."

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One case study is George Astles, a van driver at a bakery in St Edward Street, Leek, who had previously been discharged from military service prior to conscription.

The bakery's owner Jane Maskery told the tribunal her business would suffer if he was called up as most of her staff had gone to war.

She said: "He is my van man and in my business it is absolutely necessary to have one.

"I supply bread to about 18 shops in town and country. The man has been discharged from military service and I claim that it is in the national interest that he should be continued in his present occupation."

'Staffordshire Appeals: Opening Access to Staffordshire's Great War Local Military and Appeal Tribunals', will begin in September.

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