Sergeant Edward Scotton Huelin; Honourable Artillery Company, 309th Siege Battery – The Derby Scheme

Sergeant Edward Scotton Huelin, Honourable Artillery Company (HAC), 309th Siege Battery

Lived at Alaska, York Road, Cheam

Edward S. Huelin, Photographed 1916 by Knights-Whittome.

Edward S. Huelin, Photographed 1916 by Knights-Whittome.

Edward Huelin was born in 1888 in Paddington the son of Edward and Edith Huelin. Edward was educated at Westminster and then Cambridge University graduating in 1910 with a B.A. In 1913 he married Hilda W Lake of Sutton who lived at Alaska, York Road, Cheam.

Edward was living in Sutton at the time he attested under the Derby Scheme** on 1 June 1916, joining the Honourable Artillery Company (HAC). In his enlistment papers he gave his occupation as “author”. He was posted in France from September 1916 to February 1918. Records show that the 309th (HAC) Siege Battery saw action between April and June 1917.

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Edward aspired to be a writer, but was obliged after the war to work at a succession of uninteresting jobs in London. In 1928 he went with his wife Hilda and son David for a holiday in Mallorca (where his brother-in-law was British Vice-Consul). While there he inherited a legacy which enabled him to give up his job and remain in Mallorca for three years. There he met D H Lawrence, whose work he had long admired, and they became friends.

**The Derby Scheme

In 1915 the government realised that not enough volunteers were coming forward. The National Registration Act was passed as a step towards stimulating recruitment and discovering how many men between the ages of 15 and 65 were engaged in each trade. Anyone within this age range was obliged to register. The results showed there were almost 5 million males of military age who were not in the forces of which 1.6 million were in protected jobs.

A scheme was devised by the Earl of Derby – officially called the Group Scheme but known generally as the Derby Scheme. Under the scheme men would voluntarily register to be called up for service only when necessary at a later date. This was particularly appealing to married men who were told they would only be called up once the supply of single men was exhausted. Anyone who registered was given an arm band to indicate they were not shirking duty.

The scheme failed and was abandoned in December 1915. It was superseded by the Military Service Act of 1916 which introduced conscription.

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