Edward Pamphilon’s Military Exemption Card

Edward lived in Villiers Street, Hertford and was employed at the Stephen Austin Printing Company. He had to carry this card with him at all times during the war.

Edward had originally enlisted in 1915 but he was discharged the following summer as no longer fit for service due to increased deafness, caused by a chronic ear condition he had suffered since childhood.

Some jobs were declared reserved occupations, excusing the men from military service. These roles were diverse and tribunals had to be set up to determine whether someone had a case for being excused. Edward appeared at a Military Service Act tribunal in 1917 where he was excused from further service as his job as an apprentice type machine operator was of benefit to the nation. It is likely that the Stephen Austin printing company, where Edward was employed, were under government contract producing documents for the War.

Hertford tribunals record many cases such as William Smith, a boot maker from St Andrew Street, Hertford exempted for war work in 1916, presumably making boots for the troops. Algernon Avis, a clerk at Webbs leather factory in Hornsmill, claimed exemption on religious grounds. At his tribunal he said “The Son of God loved man and gave himself for him. The taking of his life in anyway was in contravention of the Scriptures.” Avis was given non-combatant service.

Employers on government contracts began to issue war work badges to identify exempted people as men not in uniform were often presumed to be shirking their duty and branded cowards.