The Archives team at Cambridge Assessment have compiled some compelling resources that illustrate the effects of war on the examinations system, felt by those taking them and presiding over them.
The extract below from a 1914 examiner's report applauds the hard work and "calmness" shown by those who ensured examinations went ahead, including the safe delivery of exam papers to Mauritius, Bermuda, Belize and other far-flung places, "in spite of certain difficulties arising out of the war." We do know of some scripts being lost during the First World War, however, when a ship was torpedoed off the Indian Coast.
During the Second World War applications for special considerations like the ones below documented the particular hardships endured by candidates in Britain, with candidates listed as being absent due to their homes being demolished, having had no sleep due to being up all night fire fighting and doing salvage work, and the deaths of family members.
The headteacher of the school the affected students, above, attended also notes that candidates were "reluctant to single themselves out as undergoing special hardship" and confined themselves to "laconic understatements" when asked why they may need to apply for special consideration.
During both World Wars many staff left to join the forces and those left behind sent comfort packets to troops. The extract below is from a record of war bonuses paid out to examinations clerks. The extra payment amounted to £2 at the start of the war but by the time it was raised to £4, two clerks named below, Reed and Ford, were no longer "with us", having been deployed into action.