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The answer to this depends upon which META-INF directory that you're referring to:
The former can be found in the servlet context path and the latter can be found in the classpath.
using under classes/META-INF worked! the build was placing the files under war/META-INF which had worked previously.
I don't think the OP's issue was related to services...
No, but the change makes META-INF/ accessible to the classloader in WARs too. That means it can locate the service activator file, META-INF/MANIFEST.MF (to read versions out of etc), and also anything else including the OP's META-INF/spring/batch/override/datasource-context.xml file.