Aaron Gill was my first cousin five times removed.
A painter and decorator by trade, Aaron was born in 1876, making him 40 years old when he reported for duty under the terms of the Military Service Act in July of 1916. He was passed by the medical inspectors at the time of his enlistment, but a month later, his superior officers had submitted paperwork declaring that he should be discharged as he was “unlikely to become an efficient soldier.” The reason cited was a large hernia. The discharge was approved.
I wonder at the mixed feelings that this must of created for him. On one hand, the there was the consistent message that everyone must “do one’s bit.” Even among my modest count of 52 soldiers, Aaron had three nephews ( David, Ezekiel, and William Gill) and several cousins in uniform, and the societal and familiar pressure may have been intense. On the other hand, he must have had a sense through the experiences of his personal connections, the consistent casualty lists published in the papers, and families being left without fathers and husbands, that this was not something to take lightly. He had a wife and eight children that he would have been leaving behind had he been sent to the front. It is easy to imagine that being discharged would have been, at least in part, a relief.