The case of George Duckett is notable in that he enlisted at Reading in 5th battalion the Royal Berkshire Regiment on 15 August 1914 but was given an administrative discharge on 3 October that year on the grounds that he was “unlikely to become an efficient soldier”. His character is stated as good but he was medically graded B2 so could not have served in the front line. This was presumably on account of the congenital amblyopia (“lazy eye”) in his right eye noted in his medical records, which would have prevented him from firing a rifle with any degree of accuracy.
Determined to serve in some capacity he joined the Army Service Corps Forage Department, a civilian organisation, on 18 December 1915 when he lived at The Lambdens. The formation of the Labour and Works Battalions of infantry regiments in 1916, consisting of men like himself medically graded unfit to fight, gave him a chance to get back into uniform and he joined the 13th (Works) Battalion of the Devonshire Regiment, based at Saltash, on 12 December 1916 when his address was given as 40 Parker’s Corner. He appears to have spent a short while with the 1st (Reserve) Garrison Battalion the Worcestershire Regiment at Ryde (22 January 1917 to 10 February 1917) before returning to the Devonshires as part of the Labour Corps. He arrived in France on 26 February 1917 and demobilised in March 1919 when his address is given as Kettering.
© 2021 Richard J Smith