Netherlands Nationale Militie

Compulsory military service existed in the Netherlands from 1811 until 1996.  Until the French occupation, the army consisted of foreigners, vagrants and adventurers.  In 1814 it was ruled that one out of every 100 inhabitants had to be drafted for military service.  On 27 February 1815 the first law was passed.  Two years later it was replaced by the law establishing a Nationale Militie (National Guard).

Every young man had to register for military service during his 19th year.  This registration took place in the municipality in which his parents lived and the municipality maintained the registration records.  The registers were maintained year-by-year.From these registers, alphabetical lists were made and a copy sent to the Military Council.  The Council considered requests for exemption based on physical attributes (or lack of them) or because one or more brothers was already in service or other special situations.

The Military Council then handed its registers to the Queen’s Commissioner and a copy was sent back to the respective municipalities.  After it was determined how many conscripts were required, the Queen’s Commissioner ensured that the municipal Mayors obtained their required number of conscripts by the lottery system.

For each draw, the numbers were matched to the number enrolled.  Initially each person had to draw his own lot number, thus determining his own fate.  This method was time consuming and subject to mistakes.  In 1928, a different lottery system was introduced where only one lot number was drawn.  This number was linked to the number on the enrollment register.  The remaining lot numbers were then assigned in order of registration.Young men entered military service in their 20th year.

Apart from volunteers, the corps included conscripts drawn from the lottery.  Until 1898, anyone conscripted through the lottery system could replace himself by finding a replacement.  This was usually laid down in an authenticated certificate.  An amendment to the law in 1898 abolished this scheme and personal conscription was introduced.  The lottery system was abolished in 1938.

A conscript could also appeal sometime later – in my Roosen family, some appeals were made just before marriage.  The appeals granted were signed by the Governor of the Province.