To relieve food shortages , in some part caused by German U-Boat action, the government wanted more land to be cultivated in each county.One of the problems for farmers was to overcome the shortage of suitable labour. So, early in 1917 , the government scheme of National Service for civilians was unveilled at Westminster. The aim of the National Service was to recruit 500,000 men aged between 18 – 61 years for agricultural work, forestry work, ship building and construction. Neville Chamberlain made it clear that recruiting women to fill labour shortages would be dealt with as a separate issue.
Volunteers, who were to be allotted to occupations for which they were most suited, were supplied with forms, which could then be sent (without a postage stamp) to the Director -General in London.Those volunteers whose services were needed would then be sent a coupon for railway travel and a warrant for subsistence allowance. The rate of pay would be the going rate for the job in each particular district.
Locally, a Thetford and District War Agricultural Committee was formed and had its first meeting in the spring of 1917.
The government used a range of borrowing structures during WW1 to fund the war effort.One of the most important was the war loans initiative, issued in November 1914, June 1915 and January 1917. Each investor in war loans was effectively lending money to the government to fund the war effort. The loans were for fixed periods, during which interest was paid.War loans were seen as a relatively attractive investment.
For the loans to succeed, they had to secure a broad subscriber base, both geographically and across different sectors of the economy.
In February 1917 a War Loan Association was started in Thetford, with a management committee consisting of local dignitaries and the Barclay and Co., Ltd bank.The association was formed to enable those subscribers who were unable to make an immediate payment, the opportunity of subscribing to the 5 percent war loan by instalments spread over two years. Any person or society in the borough of Thetford ,or elsewhere, could apply for stock, from £25 upwards.