As a pacifist church at the outbreak of the First World War, the Primitive Methodist Church had no Army Chaplains, but it quickly realised there was a need for the growing number of its members that were enlisting. The Anglican, Roman Catholic, Presbyterian and Wesleyan Methodist churches already had their own recognised Chaplains, of whom there were 117.
After initial discussions with the Wesleyans about joint Chaplains, the Primitive Methodist Church joined with the Baptist, Congregational, and United Methodist Churches to form ‘The United Army Board’. United Board Chaplains served troops of all four churches. By July 1915, 72 United Board Chaplains had been appointed, of whom 13 were Primitive Methodists.
By 1916 there were 20 recognised Primitive Methodist chaplains, and 120 ‘officiating ministers’.
The introduction of conscription in January 1916 led to a rapid expansion in the number of Army chaplains, rising to 3,416 by August 1918, of whom 248 were United Board chaplains. 43 were Primitive Methodists, although the total number would have been greater than this, as not all were still serving at the end of the war.