THE TOLL: SOCIAL CHARACTERISTICS
The National Situation
Over 6 million men served in the British Army, Royal Navy and RFC/RAF during the First World War. Roughly 58% of all Englishmen, Scotsmen and Welshmen aged 15-59 in 1911 served in the war. About 1 man in 4 of eligible age volunteered in these 3 countries. Overall, 1 in 8 was killed and more than 1 in 4 was wounded. The age distribution of those from England and Wales who served and were killed is provided in the table below.
Table 1: Age distribution of men from England & Wales who served and who died in British Forces during the First World War
|Total served||Total killed||% Killed
|% Killed of 1911 population|
For England and Wales, 70% of the men who served were under the age of 30 as were 74% of men who died on active military service.
Gaunless Valley: Age Structure & Marital Status of those Men Killed 
The age distribution of men killed in the Gaunless Valley was:
- 5% were under the age of 21
- 78% were under the age of 30
- 22% over 30
71% were single men and 29% were married.
Table 2: The Gaunless Valley: Age distribution of those men killed, single and married men
in the Age Range
The oldest serviceman to be killed was 51 year old Private James (Samuel) Martin, 2nd Battalion, the Northumberland Fusiliers KIA 26 May 1915.
The youngest, all 18 years old, was either: 
- Private Percy Little, 15/DLI KIA 27 September 1918 [St. Helens]
- Private Frederick Tazey, 15/DLI KIA 16 September 1916 [Etherley]
- Private Ralph Heaviside, 22/NF died of wounds 6 September 1918 [Evenwood]
- Private Walter Greavison, 1/6 DLI KIA 14 April 1917 [Etherley]
- Private Charles James Russell, 1/9 DLI died of wounds 8 November 1916 [Cockfield]
Nationally, those employed in industry made up the largest sector of recruits, 57%. The financial and commercial sector provided 16%, 10% were employed in mining and quarrying, agriculture 8%, transport workers 8%, central and local government staff 7%, entertainment 2% and professional staff provided 2%.
By way of a rough comparison, in Germany, 46% of volunteers were employed in industry comprising 17% tradesmen & craftsmen, 17% skilled urban manual workers and 13% unskilled urban manual workers. Those working on the land represented about 4% comprising 3% farmers and 1% waged agricultural workers. Almost 50% were associated with non-industrial/manual jobs, as follows 13% businessmen & property owners, 12% white collar workers, 5% professionals & academics, 12% students and 7% pupils and school leavers. Arguably, the German volunteers were a more educated group of people with a large proportion/number of young students.
The occupations of 200 local men are known:
- 73.5% were coal miners
- 1% were quarry men
- 5% had some manufacturing trade [blacksmith, fitter, coach-smith]
- 9% worked in the service sector, mostly independent shopkeepers or co-operative store employees
- 4% were farmers or farm labourers
- 5% worked in the building trade, [bricklayer, mason and joiner]
- 5% clerical staff, 2% teachers.
Nationally, 10% were employed in mining and quarrying. In the Gaunless Valley, coal industry employment was dominant at 73.5%. Locally, jobs in manufacturing were virtually non-existent. White collar workers were few. Further details are provided below.
Of the 200 local men whose occupations are known, 147, 73.5% were coal miners or worked in the coal industry. The breakdown of occupations on the local war memorials is as follows:
- Helens 100% [Being a Colliery Company Memorial]
- Evenwood 82%
- West Auckland 72%
- Cockfield 68%
- Copley 57%
- Butterknowle 53%
- Etherley 52%
- Woodland 42%
- Quarry men 2 [1%]
Agriculture & Forestry
- Farmers and labourers/hinds 8 [4%]
- Tree feller 1 [0.5%]
- Blacksmiths, fitter, coach-smith, machinist (steelworks) 5 [2.5%]
- Shop keepers and similar workers 18 [9%] which included grocers, butchers, hairdresser, fruiterer, draper, boot repairer, bakery van man and Co-op workers
- Joiner, mason, bricklayer 3 [1.5%]
- Teachers and student teachers 4 [2%]
- Policeman 1
- Highway Labourer 1
- Clerical 3, 1.5% which included a booking clerk (railway station), gas works clerk and brewery clerk.
- Student 1
H.M. Armed Forces
- Army [Regular] 2
 Britain’s “Lost Generation” of the First World War J.M. Winter 1977 p.450
 Table 5 Britain’s “Lost Generation” of the First World War J.M. Winter 1977 p.451
 The 1911 population figures for each Parish have not been researched so a direct comparison with the % killed of the 1911 population cannot be given. Similarly the total number of those who served has not been researched.
 There may be marriages not yet identified
 More research required to ascertain dates of birth
 Derived from “A Nation in Arms” 1985 I.F.W. Beckett & K. Simpson Table 1.2 “Sectoral distribution of enlistment in the British Forces, August 1914 to February 1916” p.9 Original source “Britain’s lost generation of the First World War” J.M. Winter – % figures rounded in my analysis
 “Ring of Steel” 2014 A. Watson Table 2 “Social composition of German volunteers 1914-18” p.86 – % figures rounded in my analysis
 This is an assumption and a reference is required to substantiate the comment.