In the United Kingdom, men in certain essential occupations were exempt from military service in World War 2.

  • Which occupations were reserved?
  • Is there an accesible list or reference book I could refer to?
  • Did the list of reserved occupations change during the war?

2 Answers 2


If you're referring to reserved occupations in the UK, you want the "Schedule of Reserved Occupations and Protected Work" published by the Ministry of Labour in 1938 and revised at least once (in 1941). There's a PDF of the 1939 provisional schedule online.

The list changed at least once during the War. At the outbreak of war, mining was not a reserved occupation; it did not become so until December 1943, from when 1 in 10 conscripts were chosen at random to work in the mines.

  • That Times link seems to be dead, but there is a PDF of the 1939 provisional schedule here.
    – AndyW
    Aug 24, 2016 at 14:02

The police were a reserved occupation. When Bomber Command was taking such high casualties that they were having difficulties replacing lost crews policemen were permitted to enlist but it had to be as aircrew. When this happened my father who had been a detective in the Blackpool police joined up and flew as Flight Engineer/Second pilot in a Lancaster.

I’m not sure when that happened, I’m guessing it must have been 1943 because I think Dad was bombing in 1944 and it took some months to train volunteers.

He survived the war and went on to lead a team of investigators into the war crime of the murder of the 50 officers who escaped from Stalag Luft lll, the Great Escape camp. He personally arrested 20 of the SS criminals and I think 11 were hanged. He got a military OBE for that.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.