Here is a little known fact unearthed from a DWNP past event:
A question came up at Ron Lies’ presentation of The Sign of the Four at the September 2006 meeting as to whether British Army were all volunteers at that time or were they conscripted.
The Staff Surgeon (Stan Moskal) researched this question and found the answer in Mr. Kipling’s Army by Byron Farwell. On p. 80 it says:
“It was and had always been an army of volunteers; not until the middle of the First World War (January 1916) did Britain resort to conscription. From 1783 until 1806 men enlisted for life; then for a twenty-three-year, enlistments were seven years for the infantry, ten years for the cavalry and twelve years for sappers and gunners. In 1829 Parliament restored the life engagement; in 1847 this was changed to twenty-one years – which was much the same thing. In 1870 ‘short service’ was introduced. Men enlisted for twelve years, but spent only three to seven years with the colours and the remainder in reserve.”