In the face of a desperate shortage of men for the armed forces, but against strong opposition, the Military Service Act was eventually passed in early 1916.
The Act introduced compulsory military service for all single men aged 18 to 41, but was later broadened to include married men, and the age range extended.
When the Act came into force, men who were called up were permitted to seek exemption from compulsory military service for a number of reasons, including:
- Economic hardship
- The need to look after dependents
- Ill health
- Moral or religious objection.
Men who were opposed to the war and sought exemption from military service on moral grounds were particularly difficult cases to judge.