Posted 24 February 2012 - 01:31 pm
Pre-war the Special Reserve (being the pre-1909 Militia) would have attracted candidates who had no "steady" job but who didn't want to commit to Regular service. I have seen quite a few service papers for men who after a while did switch to the Regulars, but the majority were content to do their 6 months then turn up for the annual trainings.
Though a little simplistic as a survey, their occupations as I've noted in passing were those which would allow them to take so much time off (bear in mind that few employers would be happy to see their workers disappear for 3-4 weeks each summer) - painter, knife grinder, agricultural or other labourer, and so on. I also know of at least one gipsy, and some would probably have been more accurately described as "tramps".
The SR was obviously still enlisting at the start of the War, but (recollecting here a post by Grumpy on this subject) the numbers of recruits soon dwindled and by the start of 1915 there were hardly any takers, since as you say the terms offered by the New Army - in addition to expectations of a short War - made them competitive in this particular market.
I can only quote one personal account in this respect, of an agricultural labourer from Anglesey who in his memoirs recalled being so impressed by a recruiting serjeant in full scarlet uniform about Sept/Oct 1914 that the next thing, he was in a pub signing some papers whose import (being in English) was lost on him. He had seemingly signed up to the SR for a full 6-year term of service and didn't get out till at least 1920.