Friday, 26 August 2016

Thomas Green, Member of the Friends Ambulance Unit - A WW1 Story

Amy, one of our youth curators has researched the story of Thomas Green, who served with the Friends Ambulance Unit in the First World War

Large amounts of our First World War archives are paper, or ephemera. This object is a certificate of wartime employment, given to Corporal Thomas Green. 

Serving with the Friends Ambulance Unit

This certificate states that Thomas, a former grocer's assistant, does not have to come and fight due to his essential war work. Green was part of the volunteer Friends Ambulance Unit. Perhaps he was unable to fight due to a medical condition, yet on the other hand, perhaps he chose not to fight due to moral or religious beliefs. 

Many Quakers, who did not fight due to their religious beliefs, served with the Friend’s Ambulance. This would have prevented social backlash. For instance many women would give men who were not serving white feathers to show that they were cowards.

Choosing a non-combatant role

However, we know that Green did serve as active member of the Territorial Force, part of the reserve army. He also took on a non-combat role here, with the Field Ambulance. Green was probably a conscript, because he took on the role in 1916, after the introduction of conscription. It is unlikely he would have volunteered at this late stage. In 1919, he was demobilised from the army.

This object is more interesting than it may first appear, due to the enormous impact that this simple certificate had upon Thomas Green.

By Amy, Leeds Museums and Galleries youth curator and Preservative Party Member.

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