A Tribunal system operated during the first world war. I became interested in this while researching my grandfather’s diaries. In particular, I was interested in family members’ personal experiences of the war, see Chapter 9. A number of them appeared before Tribunals.
Tribunals heard applications for exemption from conscription. Broadly, they could issue exemptions where a man’s work was in the national interest, where serious hardship could ensue, in cases of ill-health or infirmity or in cases of conscientious objection.
A Three-Level System
Three levels of Tribunal were established – local, county and central. Appeals could be made from a lower to a higher level. Applicants and the Tribunals’ Military Representatives could make appeals. There were more than 2,000 Local Tribunals including one in Kirkby.
I came across a report of the work of the Kirkby Tribunal in a newspaper archive when I was looking for something else. I thought it would be interesting to look into this. My main focus was on whether the newspaper archive mentioned anything about my relatives and Tribunals. However, I did seek to document the work of the Kirkby Tribunal more broadly. This included documenting, each individual that came before them and each hearing. This is available here as a PDF table.
The Tribunal is Established
At a special council meeting on 10 February 1916, a circular was read from the Local Government Board with reference to appointing Local Tribunals. The Tribunal was to be a small body usually made up of not more than five members. The Council appointed Councillors Blackburn, Mattley and Shacklock and Messrs Abbott, W J Baines and Henry Toone to be the Local Tribunal. Subsequently, Mr Baines wrote to say he could not act as his son had joined the army and his time was fully occupied. Edward Hayes was appointed in his place.
At an earlier meeting, on 1 February 1916, the composition of the Local Tribunal was discussed. The Summit Colliery Branch of the Notts Miners’ Association had written requesting a representative on the Tribunal. They proposed Mr H Toon. It seems that the Tribunal was already in existence and the Council’s Acting Clerk was concerned about increasing the size of the Tribunal. He also pointed out that miners had their own Tribunal, although the Local Tribunal would hear appeals from miners on personal grounds. There was a dispute about how many members a Tribunal could have. The Clerk quoted a circular which said that the number should not normally be more than five but Mr Rawson quoted the Military Service Act, see Chapter 9. He said that this specified that Tribunals should not be less than five members nor more than 25.
The Tribunal had some other members in addition to those originally selected. These represented particular groups. For example, Mr Bircumshaw (or Burcumshaw) represented the Colliery Employers, Mr Abbott represented the railwaymen and Mr Edge was the Agricultural Representative.
In addition, the Tribunal was attended by a Military Representative who was later termed the National Service Representative. His name was G G Bonser. The Council Clerk also attended meetings. During this period, this was variously W Gamble and W D Rawe.
G G Bonser
I believe this was George Gershom Bonser. He was born in Sutton in 1851 and died there in 1947. He wrote a history of the town. Of note, his only son Geoffrey Alwyn Gershom Bonser was killed during WW1 in September 1918. He had been a Captain in the Royal Army Medical Corps. He died when he was hit by a shell while attending the wounded near Armentières in France.
The Tribunal was chaired by Mr J G Shacklock. When he was not available, Councillor Blackburn presided. This most commonly occurred when the Tribunal heard cases brought by the East Kirkby Co-operative Society, of which Mr Shacklock was the Secretary.
Other “Conflicts of Interest”
The Tribunal had the practice that a member would withdraw when a case in which they had an interest was heard. This happened particularly for Councillor Shacklock as the East Kirkby Co-operative Society often brought cases.
However, it also applied in other cases. For example, the Agricultural Representative, Mr Edge, retired when hearing the case of a horseman and shepherd and Mr Bircumshaw retired when hearing Kirkby Colliery cases. However, it is perhaps noteworthy that Mr Toone, the miners’ representative, did not withdraw when hearing such cases.
At a council meeting on 5 June 1917, Councillor Blackburn submitted a letter resigning from the Tribunal. This was because he was of military age, he had been called up and wished to seek an exemption. He appeared before the Tribunal twice, in July and December 1917, and received a time-limited exemption on both occasions. He was urged by fellow council and Tribunal members to withdraw his resignation letter which he appears to have done. However, this incident triggered a newspaper article questioning whether it was wise for men of military age to sit on Tribunals.
Role of the Military Representative
While the military representative could attend and speak at Tribunal meetings, he was not part of the formal decisionmaking process. However, he could ask the Tribunal to review their decisions or could appeal them at the County Tribunal.
The Tribunal’s process varied during this period. Later, from 27 June 1916, the Tribunal first heard all cases and then deliberated. However, at other times, the Tribunal deliberated after each case. This led to the following observation after the Tribunal’s meeting of 20 June 1916, “the spectacle of the Military Representative leaving the room while each case was discussed, caused some amusement”. Presumably, this amusement may have had some role in leading to the change in process! However, the Tribunal did seem to revert back to its former practice or that may just have been how it was reported in the newspaper.
Location and Frequency of Meetings
Meetings took place in the Council Chamber. They were most frequently held on Tuesdays but there were instances of meetings being held on both Mondays and Wednesdays.
Frequency of meetings varied, presumably to reflect the number of hearings needed. In some cases, there were two or more meetings in a month.
The number of hearings at each meeting varied but sometimes there were more than 20. On some occasions, hearings were carried over to a subsequent meeting. For example, on 6 March 1916, 15 cases were carried over to the next week.
It seems that there was also a specific Colliery Tribunal. I found some newspaper articles of their meetings in the archive. It seems that they were meant to consider cases of miners in relation to their work being of national interest. However, miners could apply to Local Tribunals in cases of hardship. In addition Local Tribunals considered cases of other colliery staff, e.g. clerical workers. While in some cases, referrals were made from one Tribunal to another, this situation also sometimes caused confusion with some miners appealing to both Tribunals.
In most cases, news reports named the individuals involved although in a few cases they did not.
A 40-Year Old Shop Manager
For example, on 16 May 1916, the Tribunal considered the case of a 40 year-old unnamed shop manager who was objecting on medical grounds. He was advised that this was a matter for the Medical Board and the appeal was disallowed.
An Unnamed Butcher
The same Tribunal considered the case of an unnamed butcher who was supporting his aged mother and “crippled” father. His brother was on active service. No exemption was allowed.
A Colliery Wagon Repairer
Also, an unnamed wagon repairer at a local colliery produced an exemption certificate issued to him since his appeal. He was allowed to depart without any discussion.
A Butcher’s Manager
An unnamed butcher’s manager applied for a total exemption on the grounds of being in a reserved occupation. He was allowed two months.
Managing Partner of a Bootmaking and Repairing Concern
One particular case heard at that meeting interests me as it could possibly be the case of my father’s brother Cyril Parkin. The article reads, “the managing partner of a bootmaking and repairing concern appealed. He was 25 years old and his father was the senior partner but was not scholar enough to look after the business himself, and knew nothing of the retail trade. He asked for three months to get over the coming busy time – No exemption at all was allowed.”
The first mention of Cyril and Tribunals in grandad’s diaries is in 1917. However, this does not mean that this item did not relate to Cyril as I do not have any diary for grandad from 1916. The role and relationship between the son and the father would fit Cyril and Henry Parkin. Cyril was born in December 1890. So, in May 1916, he would have been 25. On balance, I suspect it was him but I don’t know for sure.
On some other occasions, applicants were also not named. For example, on 6 March 1916, a miner applied on the grounds that he supported his grandparents. But, they had a lodger and the Military Representative took this as a sign that they could “do something“. Nevertheless, the applicant was concerned that without him they would end up in the workhouse. The Military Representative asked if it was more important to live with them than to defend the country. The applicant said it was his first duty to care for them. The application was denied.
In some cases, applicants requested for their case to be heard in private.
Number of Cases Considered
Over the period of the war, the Tribunal considered applications for exemptions from 299 individuals across 542 hearings. While the majority of individuals (172, 58%) only appeared once, some appeared four or more times. The stories of these multiple attenders are shared here.
John Bond was a master baker and farmer in his thirties, His address was The Hill. Between June 1916 and July 1917, he appeared before the Tribunal five times. In addition to his bakery business, he was cultivating nine acres of land. He was also a member of the Fire Brigade. Following medical assessment at the end of 1916, he was classified as C1. The Tribunal gave him a number of temporary exemptions. When he appeared before them on 24 July 1917, the Chairman asked him if he ever managed to sleep given all the things he was doing. The Tribunal granted him absolute exemption.
Edward Boot was a grocery manager for the East Kirkby Co-operative Society. He lived in Welbeck Street. He was in his early thirties. Between June 1916 and December 1917, he appeared before the Tribunal five times. In July 1917, following medical assessment he was classified as C2. In December 1917, under a different medical classification system, he was classified as grade III. Given this low medical grade, he was given a conditional exemption.
J William Brentnall
J W Brentnall was a bootmaker. His address was The Hill. Between March and November 1916, he appeared before the Tribunal four times. He pleaded serious hardship and asked for a private hearing which he was granted. In the first hearing, the Military Representative stated that he would be an asset to the army as soldiers’ boots needed mending. He was given three time-limited exemptions but, on the fourth occasion, his appeal was dismissed.
John Clarence Bunfield
John Bunfield was a grocery manager and buyer for the Kirkby Co-operative Society. At the time of his first application, he was 33. He lived on Forest Street. Between May 1916 and July 1917, he appeared before the Tribunal five times. The President of the Society, Mr Sharpe, argued that his buying expertise was essential but the Military Representative considered that this was not necessary. Following medical assessment in April 1917, he was classified as A. The Tribunal initially gave him a conditional exemption and then subsequently gave him three-month exemptions.
John Chantry was a smith, employed by Tate and Sons, based in Station Street. At the time of his first application, he was 36. Between June 1916 and July 1917, he appeared before the Tribunal four times. He and his employer considered his work to be of national importance. Following medical assessment in July 1917, he was classified as C3. The Tribunal gave him a series of conditional exemptions.
Harry Cope was a clothing/drapery manager and buyer for the East Kirkby Co-operative Society. He lived in Clumber Street. At the time of his first application, he was 36. Between March 1916 and December 1917, he appeared before the Tribunal six times.
On the first occasion, the Military Representative asked if he was suggesting that if he went people would not be able to get boots and shoes. He replied that they were struggling to get boots and shoes and their customers would not go elsewhere. The Military Representative commented that it was not a case of choosing a shop with the Germans coming. Mr Cope replied that they sold a lot of men’s clothes and he did not think the Military Representative was suggesting that a woman should measure a man for clothes.
In July 1917, following medical assessment, he was classified as C2. Initially, he was given a temporary exemption and then a conditional exemption. However, in December 1917, he was said to be awaiting further medical examination.
Wilfred Coupe was a fruit and potato merchant whose age was given as anywhere between 36 and 39. He lived on Crocus Street. Between June 1916 and December 1917, he appeared before the Tribunal four times. In August 1917, the Military Representative said that he had had a final decision from the Tribunal three times! That month, he was given a further exemption conditional on him continuing to cultivate the land. In December 1917, he was reported to be awaiting medical examination. He had previously been variously assessed as A1 or B1.
James Cresswell was a master butcher. He was reported to be 40 in January 1917. He lived on Low Moor Road. Between June 1916 and July 1918, he appeared before the Tribunal four times. Initially, he was given a conditional exemption. Following a medical assessment in July 1917, he was categorised as A. In July 1918, he said he had killed ten beasts that week. The National Service Representative stated that if a woman could not kill she could not distribute meat. He was granted a further exemption of six months. He was excused the Volunteer Training Corps (VTC) as he was a special constable.
William A Curtis
William A Curtis was a master butcher. In some news articles, he is referred to as J W Curtis. He was reported to be 28 years old. He lived on Urban Road. Between May 1916 and April1917, he appeared before the Tribunal five times. His initial arguments were that his wife could not continue the business alone and he also cultivated a little land. In February 1917, he said he was working 16 hours a day.
Following a medical assessment in February 1917, he was categorised as B1, . He was given a number of short temporary exemptions but, in February 1917, he was given a final exemption of two months. In April 1917, Mr T Davison made an appeal for a re-hearing for a butcher called Curtis. The Chairman asked by whose authority he made this appeal. It turned out it was “one of the UDC’s servants“. The appeal was not entertained.
Henry Green was a horseman and shepherd who was reported to be 28 years old. He lived at Vernon Farm. Between March 1916 and January 1917, he appeared before the Tribunal four times. He was represented by his father and a solicitor, Mr Jackson. Following a medical examination, in January 1917, he was passed in Class A. The Tribunal gave him until April 1917 to find a replacement.
W H Hibbert
W H Hibbert appeared before the Tribunal four times and was represented by the solicitor Mr Jackson. In March 1917, the Tribunal gave him a final two months’ exemption.
Charles H Hill
Charles H Hill was a general carter. His name was also sometimes recorded as Charles E Hill. He was 35-36 during this period. He lived on Milton Street. Between May 1916 and August 1917, he appeared before the Tribunal four times. Initially, he was given two temporary exemptions. Following a medical assessment in July 1917, he was categorised as C2. He was given a further three months extension. Then, in August 1917, he was given a conditional exemption.
John Henry Hutchinson
John Henry Hutchinson was an insurance/assurance agent. During this period, he was 35-36 years old. He lived on Kingsway. Between July 1916 and December 1917, he appeared before the Tribunal four times. Initially, a news article reported that his appeal had been refused. But, a correction was later issued saying that exemption was granted based on a certificate from the Medical Board. Following a medical assessment in July 1917, he was categorised as C2. It was also noted during that hearing that a brother had been killed in the war. He was given a further exemption in October 1917 conditional on him working two days per week on the land. However, in December 1917, following a medical examination which categorised him as grade 2, he was given a final extension of one month.
Fred Hutton was a grocery manager. During this period, he was 24-25 years old. His address was variously given as Gladstone Street and Balfour Street, but the latter may be a mistake. Between May 1916 and December 1917, he appeared before the Tribunal four times. Initially, he was exempted by the Medical Board. Following a medical assessment in July 1917, he was categorised as C3. He had two further hearings and received further temporary exemptions. In at least one of those hearings, he was represented by Mr E S B Hopkin, a solicitor. However, in December 1917, his case was adjourned for further medical examination.
Samuel R Kirk
I came across five entries for a Samuel R or S R Kirk who lived in Nuncargate. I linked these together even though two of them, in 1916, were for a 30-year old assistant in the furniture trade while the other three, in 1918, were for a 38-year old grocer and miner. My reason for linking them is that, in his first 1918 hearing, the National Service Representative stated that Mr Kirk had appeared before the Tribunal two years previously and had been given two months to get work on munitions.
Samuel R Kirk – Appeal to County Tribunal
In his first hearing, Mr Kirk noted that he had two jobs. One of his employers appealed for him. He was given a one month exemption and was recommended for munitions. Then ,he was seen one month later when his employer, Mr Bower, said that he would be unable to cope without him. He was again recommended for munitions. However, it seems he appealed to the County Tribunal who “rejected it“. When he was asked about this, he said that he had not received notice to attend the County Tribunal and did not hear the results from them.
Samuel R Kirk – Work of National Importance
Because he had previously appealed to the County Tribunal, in May 1918, the Kirkby Tribunal referred him back to them. However, they sent him back. Following medical examination, he had been categorised as grade 3. In June 1918, he received a further exemption conditional on him remaining engaged on work of national importance. In July 1918, he appeared before the Tribunal again. He argued that he should be excused the volunteer training corps (VTC) but he was willing to be a special constable. The National Service Representative objected arguing that the harvest had to be brought in. Nevertheless, the Tribunal agreed to his request provided that he join the special constables.
Frank Leivers was a grocer’s assistant/grocer/grocery manager for the East Kirkby Co-operative Society. During this period, he was reported to be between 38 and 40. He lived on Low Moor Road. Between July 1916 and December 1917, he appeared before the Tribunal six times. He was given a number of time-limited exemptions. Following a medical assessment in July 1917, he was categorised as C2. He received a further three months exemption. Then, in October 1917, he received a conditional exemption. However, in December 1917, he was referred for another medical examination.
Lewis Leivers was waterworks manager for Kirkby Urban District Council (KUDC). He was also Captain of the Fire Brigade. During this period, he was reported to be between 36 and 38. He lived on Forest Street. Between May 1916 and April 1917, he appeared before the Tribunal five times.
Lewis Leivers – Requirement to Substitute Waived Because of Medical Grade
In May 1916, the Chairman of the Council, Mr G H Hunt, appealed for him arguing that no-one could take his place. However, the Military Representative argued that if he went none of the works would stop. Nevertheless, the Tribunal granted him a conditional exemption. Following a medical assessment in January 1917, he was categorised as C2. He was advised to find a substitute. However, at a further hearing in April 1917, the Military Representative argued that it was unnecessary to send away a C2 man to make room for someone of the same trade. He noted that it would have been different if he was Class A. He was given a conditional exemption.
Albert Mattley was a boot/shoemaker and repairer in Low Moor Road. During this period, he was reported to be 38 years old. Between May 1916 and January 1917, he appeared before the Tribunal four times. At his first hearing, he argued that it was unreasonable for him to give up his business and he had a brother serving in the Forces. He was given an exemption for two months. Following a medical assessment in January1917, he was categorised as C3. He received a conditional exemption.
Thomas May was a hairdresser in Skegby Road in Annesley Woodhouse. During this period, he was 35-36. Between July 1917 and May 1918, he appeared before the Tribunal four times. He was given a number of time-limited exemptions. Following a medical assessment in October 1917, he was categorised as C3. He was granted a conditional exemption. However, in December 1917, he was categorised as grade 3. Then, in May 1918, he was given a final two months extension.
Arthur Moore was a master printer on Kingsway. During this period, he was reported to be between 37 and 39. Between June 1916 and October 1918, he appeared before the Tribunal six times. At his first hearing he argued that all his capital was invested in his business and that his colliery printing was of national importance. Following medical assessments in 1917, he was variously categorised as B1 and B3. He received a number of conditional exemptions.
Joseph Sanders was a horseman and shepherd at Kirkby Hardwick Farm. During this period, he was reported to be between 27 and 28. Between May 1916 and April 1917, he appeared before the Tribunal four times. He was represented by his father and a Mr Lewis. After the hearing in December 1916, the Military representative commented that Mr Lewis had presented the case well. He was given a number of time-limited exemptions to find a replacement, the last one being for two months in April 1917.
Thomas H Shacklock
Thomas Shacklock was a drapery manager for the East Kirkby Co-operative Society. During this period, he was reported to be between 33 and 34. He lived on Diamond Avenue. Between May 1916 and December 1917, he appeared before the Tribunal seven times. His case was presented by Mr Sharpe, the President of the Society. Following a medical assessment in July 1917, he was categorised as B3. In December 1917, he received a further medical assessment and was classified as grade 2. He received a number of time-limited exemptions including, for example, an exemption of three months in December 1917.
George E Shaw
George E Shaw was a grocer/grocery manager for the East Kirkby Co-operative Society. During this period, he was reported to be between 34 and 35. He lived on Welbeck Street. Between January and December 1917, he appeared before the Tribunal five times. His case was presented by Mr Sharpe, the President of the Society. Following a medical assessment in July 1917, he was categorised as C2. In December 1917, he received a further medical assessment and was classified as grade 2. He received a number of time-limited exemptions including, for example, an exemption of three months in December 1917.
Arthur Smith was a draper in Station Street. During this period, he was between 32 and 33. Between July 1917 and May 1918, he appeared before the Tribunal four times. Following a medical assessment in July 1917, he was categorised as B2.
At his first Tribunal hearing, he argued that, if he went, his business would have to close. He also noted that he had chronic rheumatism. He felt that he would not be much use in the Army. The Military Representative pointed our that being in the Army did not necessarily mean fighting. There could be work in stores which he could do. In October 1917, he was represented by a solicitor, Mr Gamble. They argued that his medical classification was unfair. In December 1917, he had a further medical and was classified as grade 3. Based on this low grade, he was granted a further conditional exemption.
Arthur S Smith
Arthur S Smith was a house scavenger and horseman at Heath’s Yard. During this period, he was reported to be between 37 and 39. Between May 1916 and June 1918, he appeared before the Tribunal four times. His work was considered of vital importance by both Mr Banks, the Chairman of KUDC, and the Sanitary Inspector. As a result, he was given a number of exemptions despite being medically classified as grade 1.
Harry Smith was a dispending chemist on Urban Road. During this period, he was reported to be between 37 and 38. Between June 1916 and February 1917, he appeared before the Tribunal five times. At his first hearing, he was given exemption as he was a “panel chemist under the Insurance Act“. This refers to the provision of the 1911 National Insurance Act which specified that any working male could register with a GP selected from a panel of participating doctors. At the end of 1916, his case was adjourned for medical examination. However, I am unsure of the outcome of that. It appears to have been reported following a meeting in February 1917 but this seems to confuse him with someone else.
Samuel Smith was a gravedigger and cemetery caretaker based at Cemetery Lodge. During this period, he was reported to be 29. Between May 1916 and March 1917, he appeared before the Tribunal five times. He was supported by Mr G H Hunt, Chairman of the Council. As early as January 1917, attempts were being made to replace him but this was proving difficult. The Council appointed a committee to manage this chaired by Mr W Davison. At a meeting on 20 March 1917, he asked for a further month to sort this out. The Tribunal gave him until 1 April 1917.
T Thorpe was described as a farmer, carter and jobmaster. He lived in Factory Road. During this period, he was reported to be 39. Between July 1916 and August 1917, he appeared before the Tribunal five times. He was represented by the solicitor, Mr Jackson. Following a medical assessment in March 1917, he was categorised as B1. At a hearing in August 1917, he was described as a very useful man and he was given a conditional exemption. .
Basis for Granting Exemptions
As stated above, there were several broad reasons why a Tribunal could grant a man exemption from military service, namely where a man’s work was in the national interest, where serious hardship could ensue, in case of illness or infirmity or in cases of conscientious objection.
Errors in the Application
In addition, the Tribunal sometimes rejected applications that had not been completed properly. For example, in the case of Leslie Forest Horsley, the application had been filled out in the name of William Horsley, his father. The appeal was declined.
In the case of Edgar Coleman, the assumption was made that he was deaf as he misunderstood questions. Nevertheless, the Tribunal did grant him two exemptions of six months each.
Work in the National Interest
Work in the national interest was also sometimes described as being work of national importance. During World War 1, a number of occupations were considered essential to running the country, These were described as reserved, scheduled, certified or starred occupations. These included clergymen, farmers, doctors, teachers, coal miners, train drivers, those working in the shipyards and those in the iron and steel industries. In some occupations, only married men or men above a certain age were exempted. In many cases, for example coal mining, these occupations had their own ways of issuing exemptions which did not require going through the Local Tribunal. Nevertheless, there were some cases from these professions that were considered by the Kirkby Tribunal.
The Case of a Doctor
In March 1916, the Tribunal considered the case of a medical practitioner Horace Edward Kayton. They granted total exemption because of the scarcity of doctors. However, in April 1917, he appeared before the Tribunal again and was referred for medical assessment.
The Tribunal did not hear many applications from teachers. However, when they did, they did not appear to treat teaching as work in the national interest in terms of issuing an exemption. For example, while they did issue a temporary exemption in the case of Alec Watkinson Bowmar, in July 1916, this was on the grounds that he had not yet reached the age of 19.
In two cases, the Tribunal denied applications from teachers. For example, in April 1917, a teacher H I Unwin was due to appear before them. However, he did not turn up. His case was dismissed. In addition, in March 1917, the Tribunal heard the case of a teacher J G Anderson. However, he did not appeal on the basis of his job but on grounds of conscientious objection. His case was dismissed.
Assumptions of National Importance?
Sometimes, applicants seemed to assume that their work was of national importance. Their focus was then on explaining that only they could do the role. Examples of this included Edgar Davison, a grocer’s assistant and subpostmaster, Frank Greensmith, a motor mechanic, Samuel Mellows Johnson, a wheelwright and Albert Mattley a bootmaker. However, in the case of Edgar Davison, the Military Representative disagreed with this. He expressed the view that a female could do the work.
If the work was not clearly in the national interest, the Tribunal tended not to issue conditional exemptions. For example, in March 1916, T Eyre, a butcher, argued that he was running the business as his father no longer could. The Tribunal gave him an exemption of only one month.
There was wide consensus that farming and food production were in the national interest. Indeed, this is one of the few areas where the Military Representative supported exemptions. In March 1916, at the appeal of A W Belton, the Military Representative urged his employer Mr Edge to go on producing as much milk and corn as possible as “they were as good as munitions“.
Many of the cases the Tribunal considered were from farmers and/or other people who worked on the land. The Tribunal granted some conditional exemptions for farmers, for example in the cases of S J Bee, A W Belton and T McKinley.
Also, in the case of Henry Green, the argument was made that food production was of national importance. However, while he was initially granted a conditional exemption, he was told in January 1917 to find a substitute. Presumably, his medical classification, as grade A, would have been a factor in this.
In other cases, the Tribunal appeared to overrule arguments made on the basis of food production. For example, in March 1917, a farmer Frank Stirland, was represented by his father but did not attend himself. The Tribunal Chairman noted his displeasure at that. Mr Stirland’s father quoted remarks made by Bonar Law along the lines that food production was more important than men. He also questioned if a Tribunal could interfere with a man of 35 on the land. Perhaps the absence of the applicant or the attack on the Tribunal may have been factors but the Tribunal agreed an exemption of only one month. Other cases of farmers where the Tribunal gave short exemptions rather than longer conditional ones included W H Baguley.
Some applications from farmers were made for specific purposes, e.g. to complete harvesting. In July 1917, Mr Gardiner asked that his farm hand, Henry Claypham (possibly Clayton or Clayphan) be exempted for harvest. He was given a final exemption of one month.
Andrew Bonar Law
Although Conservative politician, Andrew Bonar Law, was later Prime Minister from October 1922 to May 1923, at the time of this appeal, he was Leader of the Conservative Party, Leader of the House of Commons and Chancellor of the Exchequer in the Government of David Lloyd George. I have not been able to find details of the particular statement to which Mr Stirland referred.
Perhaps more contentious than food production was whether food distribution and sales constituted work in the national interest. For example, in May 1916, Maypole Dairy Co, claimed that the work of A T Wilson, their Grocery Manager, was in the national interest. But, the Military Representative disagreed. The application was not allowed.
When Edgar Davison, a grocer’s assistant and subpostmaster told the Tribunal that no-one could take his place, the Military Representative asked him if he considered his business more important than the defence of his country and where would we be if we all thought that! No exemption was granted.
Edwin Marriott considered his work as a butcher to be of national importance. However, it seems the Tribunal did not agree with him as they allowed him an exemption of only six weeks.
I guess bakers were involved in both food production and distribution. In May 1916, the Tribunal granted 25 year-old baker Ernest Mitchell conditional exemption. However, following a medical examination at the end of 1916, which passed him in Class A, he was given a final exemption of one month. This was despite him pleading that he was in a certified occupation.
In the cases of John Clarence Bunfield and Harry Cope, East Kirkby Co-operative Society argued that their buying skills were essential for their business. However, the Military Representative disagreed arguing, in the case of Mr Bunfield, that an expert buyer was not necessary.
In June 1916, John Chantry expressed the view that his work as a shoeing smith was of national importance. This seems to have been accepted by the Tribunal as he was granted conditional exemption. However, I wonder if the Tribunal took his age (37) into account as they only granted a younger smith, William Mason (23), two short exemptions.
In May 1918, the firm employing Harry Judson argued that his work as a stoker was important. It seems that the Tribunal did not agree as they gave him a final exemption of two months.
Also earlier, in March 1917, appeals were made by the Urban District Council Gas Manager for W Rabbitts and W Shacklock described as gas stokers. The Tribunal granted each an extension of three months.
Joiner and Wheelwright
In June 1916, when Tate and Sons appealed for wheelwright and joiner Frank Newcombe, they argued that his work of repairing farming implements was of national importance. They also noted that they were producing horse shoes for the army and produced a letter from the Army Horse Shoe Department. However, the Chairman commented that the applicant was not a blacksmith. While the Tribunal granted an exemption of two months, this was final in nature.
Conversely, in July 1916, when wheelwright Samuel Mellows Johnson appeared before the Tribunal, he argued that he was the only wheelwright in Annesley Woodhouse. He was given a conditional exemption. However, he attended a further hearing in November 1916 and was advised to appear before the Medical Board.
In August 1917, S Jones, a sanitary plumber, appealed on the basis that he was in a certified trade. He was given a conditional exemption.
I had not realised this previously but there is an argument that bootmaking and repairing was of national importance, particularly in a mining area. For example, when E Alcock applied for exemption in October 1917, he emphasised that his boot and shoe business was “75% miners’ boots“. This may also explain why John A Crabtree, boot shop manager for East Kirkby Co-operative Society, in his application, emphasised that he did a lot of work on pit boots. Both these men were given conditional exemptions as was my great uncle John Joseph (Joe) Dovey, see Chapter 10 and another bootmaker, Albert Mattley.
However, the importance of this contribution was not always recognised at the Tribunal. For example, in March 1916, when bootmaker J William Brentnall applied, the Military Representative noted that he would be an asset to the Army as soldiers’ boots needed mending. Although he was granted three exemptions, his appeal was dismissed on the fourth occasion.
My great uncle, Thomas Cyril Parkin, had his application denied twice. I am not sure why this was but the application emphasised his managerial role rather than a direct role in boot manufacture, see Chapter 9.
Cotton’s Patent Operative
In May 1916, John W Burton, a Cotton’s patent operative with Walker and Sons applied for an exemption. However he was told this was not now a reserved occupation. He was given a temporary exemption of one month. He appealed again in August 1916 but this appeal was dismissed.
However, in July 1917, another Walker’s employee S Jameson, who was described as a hosiery mechanic, applied on the basis that he was in a certified occupation. The Tribunal granted him a conditional exemption. Similarly, in December 1917, the Tribunal granted J R Pike, a Cotton’s patent hand, a conditional exemption. However the National Service Representative appealed this decision.
As early as 1916, when William Walker appeared before the Tribunal, he noted that girls were being trained to operate the Cotton’s patents.
In May and December 1916, Herbert S Charles applied for exemptions. He was a waterworks engineman and his appeal was supported by Council members. At the second meeting. Mr Davison declared that he was indispensable. He was given conditional exemptions on both occasions.
In January 1917, Percy Cupit was given an exemption conditional on him continuing to work in his employment as assistant overseer and collector of water rentals.
In the case of Lewis Leivers, the council’s waterworks manager, the council argued that no-one could take his place. However, the Military Representative considered that, if he was sent, none of the works would stop. He did, however, agree to his conditional exemption but this was on the grounds of his medical ranking.
In March 1916, the son of Mr Owen applied for an exemption. His occupation was given as “carrier“. I am not entirely sure what that was. Anyway, he was told that his role was not indispensable in a district with good railway facilities. The Chairman also told him that he would be more use to the State shouldering a gun than by driving “that horse” in Nottingham. He was not granted an exemption.
Responding to an application for 20 year-old Chemist’s Apprentice/Assistant, Henry/Harry Sheldon, in March 1916, the Military Representative stated that chemists were not exempted unless they were dispensers. The applicant claimed to dispense half of his time and provided a note to that effect. However, no exemption was agreed.
Conversely, in June 1916, Harry Smith was given a conditional exemption as he was a panel chemist under the Insurance Act,
In June 1916, when Arthur Moore applied to the Tribunal, he argued that his colliery printing was of national importance. Although he was given a final exemption of two months in January 1917, he appealed again in March 1917 claiming he was fully occupied with colliery and factory work. He submitted letters in support of those claims. From that point on, he was given a further three exemptions each of six months each.
Perhaps the most amusing exchange occurred on 16 July 1917 when W H Wightman applied for an exemption. He was asked by the Military Representative if he considered his work to be of national importance. Mr Wightman replied that people needed to know the time!! He was granted exemption conditional on him remaining a special constable.
In March 1916, an application was made for stonemason Albert Edward Hutchinson, by his father. The basis for the application was that the business was dependent on him because of his father’s infirmity. However, the Military Representative commented “it is not in the national interest that you two should be putting up gravestones.” Mr Hutchinson replied “people keep dying anyway” to which the Military Representative responded that they were dying at the Front too.
In June 1916, as part of his application, insurance agent Willis Smith claimed his work was in the national interest. However, it is not clear that the Tribunal agreed with this as, when they did issue exemptions for insurance agents, e.g. John Henry Hutchinson, they did it conditional to him continuing to work on the land and not related to his insurance work. This was in spite of him mentioning that, as part of his work, he sold war bonds.
In January 1917, Thomas Lee, colliery head clerk, was granted a conditional exemption provided he stayed in his present employment. Presumably, this was not because he was a clerk per se but because he was head clerk at a colliery.
I confess I am not absolutely sure what a house scavenger was but it seems to have been some kind of environmental health role. I asked about it on the Kirkby Living Memory Facebook Group and received a few responses. Suggestions included an old name for a dustbin man/street cleaner, someone who searches through and collects items from discarded material, someone who goes through unwanted items (which today would be recycling) and a person who collects things discarded by others.
In May 1916, in relation to the cases of George Baker, Clifford Knowles and Arthur S Smith, the Tribunal Chairman expressed the view that house scavenging was not important work and that others could easily be found to take on that role. However, in an appeal in June 1918, the applicant noted that he considered his work vital, This view was supported by the Council Chairman, Mr Banks, and the Sanitary Inspector.
Painting and Decorating
In June 1916, an application was made by John H Dixon, a painter and decorator. He argued that he had a lot of work coming in. The Chairman responded that his work was not as important as keeping the Germans out of the country!
Size of Business
On some occasions, those making their appeals emphasised the size of the business.
Large businesses tended to highlight their turnover and the number of staff they employed and managed. Companies that did this included East Kirkby Co-operative Society. When William Walker appeared before the Tribunal, twice in 1916, he received exemptions. The Tribunal commented that the industry of the country should carry on.
Staff Already Serving
In some cases, firms, such as the East Kirkby Co-operative Society and W A Baines, emphasised the number of their staff already serving in the Forces.
Families Took a Similar Approach
Families sometimes took a similar strategy when they had other family members serving in the Forces. For example, when Fred Farnworth applied, he emphasised that three brothers had been called to colours and one had died of his wounds. While the Tribunal did grant him an exemption of three months, this was final in nature. Edward Henry Sharpe’s father said he was “best at home” as he had two other sons in the army. The Tribunal gave him a final exemption of two months. After that period, another appeal was lodged but this was denied. D Shore noted that he had five brothers that had all been called up. Thomas Wilcox noted that he had two brothers in the army.
In contrast to large businesses, those with small, “one-man” businesses were concerned about losing these. Arguments were quite frequently made that, if a man was sent, their business would close. Examples of applicants who used this argument included E A W Cupitt, William A Curtis, Arthur C Dovey, T Eyre, Henry Gregory, W Harvey, Arthur Smith, Arthur Titterton, and Henry Whitehead. This same argument was made by W A Baines in relation to the case of W A Peach and by Mr Wilbourne in relation to the case of George White.
Clearly, this issue links closely to the one related to hardship. However, in the case of Arthur Titterton, the Military Representative pointed out that millions of compatriots had joined the Army and asked if it was right that a fellow like him should be standing behind a counter. The Tribunal granted him an initial exemption of two months and, at a subsequent hearing, a final month.
When considering whether work was in the national interest or of national importance, the Tribunal did not consider only this in isolation. They also considered whether someone else could more appropriately take on a particular role. This involved thinking about the nature of the role and potential replacements. In addition, certain men were more likely to be left in these roles depending on factors such as age, marital status, number of children and medical classification category.
Could Others Do the Work?
Sometimes, the argument was made that particular jobs required the physical strength of a man of military age. For example, in the application of William Mason, a 23 year-old shoeing smith, his employer noted that an older man would not be able to shoe big horses.
In the case of slaughterer/butcher Harold Cupitt, one of the arguments used by The Co-operative Society was that the work was “too heavy for females“.
Some applicants argued that they could not be replaced because of the skills they had. For example, when farmer William Sanders applied for his two sons, Joseph and Samuel, he argued that they had released five men and replaced them with boys below military age but there was a need for some skilled men. However, although both initially received conditional exemptions, they later received shorter exemptions and were advised to find substitutes.
A number of applications noted that while it was theoretically possible to replace someone, it often proved difficult in practice. For example, the East Kirkby Co-operative Society reported that they had advertised for a replacement for shoeing smith William Mason. However, they had been unsuccessful.
Similarly, when applying for the two brothers, Joseph and Samuel Sanders, Mr Lewis quoted a Department of Agriculture report which documented labour shortages in Nottinghamshire.
When hearing an appeal from the father of farmer W H Baguley, the Chairman commented that he had a relative who could do the work. The father had stated that his son was necessary for the work. The article in question is not completely clear whether this was a relative of the Chairman or of Mr Baguley although I assumed the latter.
Many businesses had to adapt so they could operate with men above, or boys below, military age. For example, James Cresswell, master butcher, mentioned that he was managing with four boys. Alfred F Kemp, a hairdresser, noted that his only assistance was two lather boys. William Sanders, a farmer, noted that he had replaced five men with boys below military age.
In March 1916, a carrier, the son of Mr Owen had his appeal disallowed as he was told his work could be done by a man over military age. In April 1916, a pony driver, J H Martin, had his appeal disallowed. One of the reasons given was that the work could be done by a younger boy.
Some Jobs Were Taken on by Women
In some cases, particularly retail, women did take on jobs previously occupied by men. For example, in May 1916, Maypole Dairy Co explained that they now employed 1,350 females whereas they had employed none before the war. In the case of Philip H Newcombe, a draper, he asked for an exemption of three months so that girls could be trained. The Tribunal initially agreed two months but, following another hearing, agreed a further month.
When William Walker appeared before the Tribunal, he noted that girls were being trained to operate the Cotton’s patents. In an application by the East Kirkby Co-operative Society in May 1916, the Society’s President stated that, in July 1914, they had had 44 males employed. At the time of the application, they only had 12 of military age with three over that age, 15 boys and juniors and 14 females. He also mentioned three “rejected” which presumably relates to those rejected for military service.
There was some Reluctance to Employ Women in Roles Previously Occupied by Men
Some applicants expressed or implied reluctance for women to take on jobs previously occupied by men. In these cases, Tribunal members sometimes challenged them. For example, when Edgar Davison, a grocer’s assistant and subpostmaster, claimed that no-one could take his place, the Military Representative stated that a female could do so. In November 1916, the Tribunal also pointed out to George Coaton that women were now acting as “postmen“. In commenting on an application by horseman, W Lee, the Chairman noted reluctance by farmers in the district to employ women.
Some Jobs Women Couldn’t Do
However, there were some jobs that applicants, and/or Tribunal members, thought women couldn’t do. For example, Harry Cope, clothing manager for East Kirkby Co-operative Society thought it incredulous that the Military Representative might be suggesting that a woman measure a man for clothes. James Cresswell perhaps implied that a woman could not be expected to kill beasts. However, the National Service Representative commented that if a woman could not kill she could not distribute meat, although I don’t quite follow the logic in that!
Were Women Considered Inferior to Men?
Some of the comments made at meetings appear to imply that having women do a particular job was, in some way, inferior to a man doing it. For example, as part of S F Huskinson’s application, he argued that he only had female help. Similarly, in appealing in the case of Thomas Shacklock, the President of East Kirkby Co-operative Society, Mr Sharpe, argued that he only had female assistance in the branch. In the case of Frank Thompson, grocer’s manager for Burton’s he argued that, at the branch, there were only three females and two boys.
In the case of Albert J Goacher, a baker with the East Kirkby Co-operative Society, the Military Representative asked if machinery could be used instead. Although Mr Goacher was granted conditional exemption in May 1916, a further appeal in January 1917 was disallowed.
Alternatives to Main Employment
In some cases, the conditions applied by the Tribunal relating to work of national importance did not apply to a person’s main employment but to other types of work, e.g. work on the land, work at the Colliery and/or work as a special constable.
Work on the Land
For example, when Arthur Shirland, the publican at the Nag’s Head, appealed in July 1918, he was given an exemption of six months conditional on working on the land three days per week. Others who noted working on the land as part of their application or who were given a conditional exemption based on working on the land included John Bond, John George Burrows, Wilfred Coupe, William A Curtis, A H Fryar, John Henry Hutchinson, Alfred F Kemp, G A Kirk, R Rowe and Cyril Mason Starr. G Judson, a house scavenger, was said to support the farmers.
However, some of those who claimed to be working on the land did not receive exemption. For example, fruiterer J Kirby (or Kirkby), noted that he worked four days per week for Mr Hayes, a farmer, but his case was dismissed.
Work at the Pit
One of the conditions of the exemptions of E A W Cupitt, William H Holmes and Percy White was continuing to work at the pit. In the case of William H Holmes, the Tribunal explained that work at the pit did not need to be full-time and that four days per week would suffice.
The Special Constabulary was a part-time, volunteer organisation established under the Special Constables Act of 1914. Applicants exempted on condition that they become or remain a special constable included James Cresswell, Arthur Edwards, G Judson, Samuel R Kirk, Joseph Priestley and W H Wightman.
One example of someone who did a lot of activities, outside of his business interests, was Tribunal member J W Blackburn. He worked with the Soldiers’ and Sailor’s Families’ Association and the Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Aid Society two days per week. Also. he was a special constable. He was also interested in farming some land and he was a member of the Urban District Council.
Some applicants were given exemptions because they were working on munitions. Examples included George Coaton and Horace O Massey. In most of the meetings of the Tribunals, applicants were asked if they preferred working on munitions to military service. In the Tribunal’s meeting of 5 June 1916, it was noted that this question was “now customary“. Perhaps unsurprisingly, in most cases, applicants preferred munitions work but a few did not. When R W Rowe was asked about munitions work by the Military Representative, he replied that his health would not permit it. He was then asked if he would prefer to go to the Front. He responded by questioning if he was getting fair treatment. Then, he said that if he was compelled he would do munitions work. The Military Representative responded “then why did you not say so at first“.
Working with Others
When considering whether an applicant should be granted an exemption based on their work being of national importance, the Tribunal considered a number of other factors including age, marital status, number of children and medical classification.
In general, the Tribunal was more likely to leave older men in particular roles than younger men.
William Davis was a grocery manager with the East Kirkby Co-operative Society. When he first applied to the Tribunal, in June 1916, he gave his age as 30. The Military Representative remarked that he was a “fine young fellow to be serving groceries“. The Tribunal granted him an exemption of one month. The next month, when he returned to the Tribunal, his age was given as 39! I am not sure this helped though as the Tribunal granted him a final exemption of one month.
In March 1917, the Military Representative asked F Wilson his age and was told he was 39. The Military Representative pointed out that Mr Wilson had been born in 1880 but the applicant stated that he was 39 anyway.
In the case of J William Gill, his father argued that the son was now running the butcher’s business as he, the father, could no longer work. The Military Representative argued that a single man of 19 could not be allowed to stay at home when married men were going. The Tribunal allowed him an exemption of one month but the Military Representative indicated that he would probably appeal. One month later, the father made a further appeal to the Tribunal which again exempted him for a further month.
The case of J William Gill above indicates that marital status was considered, at least by the Military Representative, in these applications.
News cuttings related to the Tribunal’s hearings often noted how many children applicants had. Clearly, the Tribunal took this into account in its deliberations presumably because sending someone to the Front who had many children was more likely to result in hardship than if the applicant had no children.
Potential military recruits were required to undergo medical examination and, as a result, they received a medical classification, see Chapter 9. The Tribunal used this information, often requiring applicants to be examined medically before making a decision. The Tribunal seems to have used two systems. Initially, they used the letter and number system but later they just used the number system.
Under the letter and number system, each applicant received a letter (A-D) as their main grade. Each main grade could be sub-divided into a number of numerical sub-grades, e.g. C1, C2, C3 etc. Essentially, those considered grade A were considered suitable for active service, those considered grade B could be deployed overseas e.g. to lines of communications while those in grade C were considered suitable only for home service.
The Tribunal Used This Information
The classification given was a crucial factor in deciding whether someone should be exempted. For example, in the case of Lewis Leivers, the Military Representative noted that he would not oppose his exemption as he was a C2 man. He noted that had he been a Class A man, things would have been different.
Concerns About Reliability
However, while great reliance was placed on this system, there were also concerns about its reliability. Applicants frequently challenged the classification they were given.
In the case of J J B McKinley, a 33 year-old, market gardener, he had a partly paralysed right arm and was classified C2. One of the Tribunal commented that the Medical Board “wanted kicking” for such a classification. The Tribunal granted him total exemption on medical grounds.
Many of the applications either explicitly or implicitly related to the hardship that would be caused if the applicant was sent away. In many cases, it appeared that a temporary exemption could reduce any hardship by allowing a limited amount of time for alternative arrangements to be put in place.
In June 1918, Harold Bradbury’s mother asked for her 21 year-old, single, grade 1 son to be given an absolute exemption on grounds of hardship. However, the Tribunal dismissed the case. J William Brentnall pleaded serious hardship and explained this to the Tribunal in a private hearing. Although he was given three temporary exemptions, his appeal was dismissed at his fourth hearing. Horace O Massey pleaded serious hardship and offered to do munitions work. The Tribunal granted him an exemption of two months. When he returned, he was doing munitions work and they granted him a conditional exemption.
In the cases of Franks, Harrison, Mason and Parkinson, in April 1918, the Annesley Branch of the Notts Miners’ Association explained that they were operating a quota system and that they would substitute others if cases of hardship, such as these ones, were withdrawn. This was agreed and these cases were withdrawn.
“Fifty Per Cent Rule”
A number of applicants, for example, J Green, J B Horabin and D Shore, referred to the so-called “fifty per cent rule” which was said to mean that the number of family members in military service should not exceed fifty per cent. D Shore, in his application, read a long statement and cited a newspaper cutting. However, I have not found a clear documentary basis for this rule.
In practice, this ruling did not appear to have been binding on the Tribunal. In the case of J Green, the Tribunal Chairman said that he did not want to state an opinion but a fact and that was that some families “had sent 100 per cent“. The case was adjourned for one month but it does not appear to have been re-heard. In the case of J B Horabin, he claimed the fifty per cent rule but his application was dismissed.
D Shore noted that five of his brothers had been called up. The Chairman told him that the most recent Royal Proclamation made a clean cut up to 23 and that their head had to overrule their heart. He noted that it was their bounden duty to do their best for the nation. Nevertheless, the Tribunal agreed a proposal that this case be withdrawn for it to be worked out between the Army and the colliery authorities.
Illness and Infirmity
The Tribunal granted a number of exemptions either explicitly or implicitly on grounds of illness or infirmity.
General Assertions of Ill-Health
In many cases, there were general assertions about ill-health. In these cases, the Tribunal usually granted a temporary exemption. Examples of this included James Barker. In some cases, e.g. A Davenport and A H Fryar, applicants claimed medical problems but without any certificate. In these cases, the Tribunal usually referred them for medical assessment.
Specific Issues that Led to Temporary Exemptions
More specifically, J E Attenborough was described as a “one-legged man” and he received a conditional exemption. E A W Cupitt was said to have one eye and asthma. He was granted a number of temporary exemptions. L Martin was also said to have one eye. He was given a temporary exemption of two months. As part of his application, Joseph Priestley noted that he was missing a finger. The Tribunal granted him a temporary exemption of two months. Harold Webster reported that he had had a serious illness and accident including an “almost fractured skull“. He received a temporary exemption of three months.
In the case of Arthur Smith, his solicitor, Mr Gamble, argued that the medical classification of B2 was unfair given his chronic rheumatism. His low medical category was a factor in him being granted conditional exemption.
In some cases, claims were made based on ill relatives. For example, S W Dixon, A Duffin, T W Franks, J Green, G A Kirk and Bertram Smith all reported that their wives were ill. They were all granted some form of exemption. These were mostly temporary in nature ranging from 1-3 months. J W Heathcoate applied on the basis that his mother was an invalid. He was granted a temporary exemption of one month. Part of the application from Thomas Wilcox was that he was supporting his mother who had had a stroke. He was granted an exemption of one month.
In the case of Elias Heath, the father requested an absolute exemption because of epilepsy. This was granted. John Hunt was also exempted on medical grounds. J G Jacklin (or Jackson) was declared unfit and received an exemption. J J B McKinley was said to have a paralysed right arm. The Tribunal granted him an absolute exemption even though the Medical Board had passed him in category C2. J T Stocks was granted total exemption as he suffered from a chronic lung disorder.
While Tribunals are perhaps best known for their treatment of cases involving conscientious objectors, they actually made up a very small proportion of the cases reviewed by a Tribunal. In the case of Kirkby, only 17 of 299 (5.7%) individuals who came before the Tribunal were conscientious objectors. Each of those 17 individuals is briefly reviewed here. Conscientious objectors only constituted 18 of 542 (3.3%) hearings.
J G Anderson
J G Anderson was a school teacher who appeared before the Tribunal in March 1916. He explained his views including that he objected to non-combatant service. His views were strengthened by his socialist views. He was asked what he would do if the Germans were here. In response, he said he would not take a human life but would try to disarm him. He was asked if he would allow his mother to undergo the cruelties that women had been subjected to. Again, in response, he said he would raise a hand but would not strike him.
He claimed to have held these views for five years but, at school, he was practically compelled to join the Officers’ Training Corps (OTC). The Military Representative asked him if his objections were based on scripture. He answered by saying that his conscience could not be violated. The Military Representative responded that it was not a matter of violating his conscience but understanding his understanding, The Tribunal declined to grant him an exemption.
The Baggaleys or Baguleys or Bagleys
There were two applicants with similar names and I wonder if they were related. However, one was spelled Baggaley, or potentially Bagley, and the other Baguley. Both spellings appear to be in use.
F W Baggaley or Bagley
F W Baggaley was a 19-year old miner who appeared before the Tribunal in May 1918. He explained that he was a conscientious objector but he was willing to do work of national importance. He explained that he had been brought up in the teaching of the Latter House of Israel. His father confirmed this.
I don’t know much about this religious group. Apparently, it was founded by James Jezreel. I don’t know much about the group’s teachings, in general, and on military service, in particular. It seems that their teachings are based on a series of sermons preached by James Jezreel under the title “The Flying Scroll“. Members did not cut their hair or shave their beards. Whatever the group’s teachings were on the subject, F W Baggaley based his conscientious objection on their teachings.
The National Service Representative commented that he, Mr Baggaley, had been willing to get coal which was used to make swords and cannons. However, Mr Baggaley replied that coal was as much needed at home as to make shells.
One of the strange things about this particular case was that the news article focused strongly on the fact that the applicant stated his case with his cap on! He declined to remove it when asked to do so by the National Service Representative. This merited the headline “Conchy” refuses to take off his cap. Another article took this up accusing him of ignorance and impudence. The case was dismissed.
W H Baguley
W H Baguley was a farmer whose case was heard by the Tribunal in March 1916. In addition to claiming conscientious objection, his father stated that he was needed for running of the farm. The Tribunal appeared to focus on this element of his application. Specifically, the Tribunal Chairman commented that he had a relative who could do the work but it is not clear if this was a relative of Mr Baguley or of the Chairman! The Tribunal granted an exemption of two months on the basis of being needed on the farm. They dismissed the claim based on conscientious objection. However, Mr Baguley indicated his intention to appeal to the Central Tribunal.
R Davis appeared before the Tribunal in March 1916 and indicated that he was unwilling to shoulder the responsibility of anyone’s death. However, he also indicated that he would be willing to join the Royal Army Medical Corps (RAMC). The news article was not completely clear what was concluded in his case.
H Eyley was a jigsman in a coal mine and he appeared before the Tribunal in August 1917. He appealed on conscientious grounds and said he would have nothing to do with military service. His appeal was refused.
H Farnham was a colliery workman who appeared before the Tribunal in March 1916. He said he objected to any form of warfare. He was asked if he would do anything to protect his relatives. In response, he quoted Oliver Cromwell who had said to trust in God. However, this brought the response that he had also said to keep your powder dry! He replied that as a preacher of the gospel he was not going to be a murderer. The Tribunal did not give an exemption but there was to be an appeal.
Three conscientious objectors with the surname Fox appeared before the Tribunal. I don’t know if they were related.
C B Fox
C B Fox was an 18-year old coal sorter/banksman who appeared before the Tribunal in May 1917. He explained that he was a lifelong Baptist and that he was willing to do work not of a military nature. The Military Representative asked him where he worked to which he replied Newstead Colliery. He was asked what was done with the coal and he replied that he had nothing to do with that. The Military Representative pointed out that coal was being used to make guns and shells and so he was assisting from a military standpoint. He said, “you believe in getting coal for good wages. Why don’t you go and work on the land at 25s per week if you object to military service?” The Tribunal dismissed the case.
Harry Dyson Fox
Harry Dyson Fox was a 32-year old hairdresser who appeared before the Tribunal in May 1916. The Military Representative noted that he considered him to be a true conscientious objector on the basis of being a Christadelphian, a pacifist group. It seems the Tribunal agreed as they granted him absolute exemption.
I am grateful to Harry’s great granddaughter Janine Vardy for responding as follows to my questions about Harry’s conscientious objections, “I asked Mum Janette Vardy about the Christadelphian faith. Harry’s grandfather was a Congregational Minister and religion had always been an important part of family life. Mum remembers Harry reading from the Family Bible every morning and night and the family had to listen. Mum thinks it was Harry’s wife Maud, who was a devout Christadelphian and this would be be where the religion came from. Maud fell out with my grandad, Alexander and his brother, Dyson, when they went off to WW2. My grandad went off to India at the outbreak of war when my mum was only a few months old. She didn’t get to meet him until she was 6. Maud only forgave the brothers when Dyson was blown up at Dunkirk and came home with an eye and a leg missing. He returned to 7 Station Street with his wife Gwen, who was living in London. Mum tells the story of how Gwen was in the bath at their house in London and the side of the house was blown off in an air raid. Both went to 7 Station Street to recover. Mum can’t remember anything more than you have already covered about Harry being a conscientious objector.
L Fox appeared before the Tribunal in March 1916. He was asked what he would do if he saw the Germans coming over the hill. In reply, he said he would do anything but kill them. He was told that they would soon kill him and he was asked if he would allow that. He said he would. Also, he said that those who use the sword shall die by the sword. He was asked if he would rather be killed than kill and he said he would. No exemption was made but an appeal to the Central Tribunal was to be made.
The Franks and F A Gilbert
In March 1916, three conscientious objectors, A G Franks, G Franks and F A Gilbert appeared before the Tribunal. The Chairman told them their objections were “symptoms of a disordered mind“! No exemptions were granted but they were able to appeal to the Central Tribunal.
Leonard Kirk was a 21-year old colliery weighman. He appeared before the Tribunal in May 1918. He cited the New Testament as the basis for his objections. The National Service Representative asked him why he was willing to mine coal when that was used to make weapons. Mr Kirk said he did not get coal he just weighed it! However, his appeal was dismissed as out of order as he had previously been to the County Tribunal.
W Smith appeared before the Tribunal in March 1916. The Tribunal indicated they would recommend non-combatant service. Mr Smith indicated that he would appeal.
Two men with the surname Unwin appeared before the Tribunal as conscientious objectors.
George and Harry Unwin appeared before the Tribunal in March 1916. Like the Foxes and F A Gilbert, they were told that their conscientious objections were “symptoms of a disordered mind“! The Tribunal refused to grant them exemptions. Harry Unwin, a 22 year-old engine driver, appeared before the Tribunal again in April 1918. His case was dismissed.
I am not completely sure if this name is correct or if perhaps it was R Wilson. Anyway, he was a 37 year-old, dental operative. He appeared before the Tribunal in July 1916. He claimed ill-health and also conscientious objection as a member of the Church of Christ. The news article was not clear what decision the Tribunal came to.
Reasons for Conscientious Objection
Where these were explained, reasons often had a religious basis although, in some cases, they also reflected political and individual views.
It appears that the Tribunal was willing to grant absolute exemptions on the basis of conscientious objection. However, they only did this in one case, where the applicant was part of a religious group, the Christadelphians, known for their pacifist stance. In one other case, they gave a temporary exemption but this was on a basis other than conscientious objection. Also, in another case, they recommended non-combatant service.
In most cases, the Tribunal was hostile to, or sceptical of, applications based on conscientious objection. The Military Representative sought to point out the inconsistency of being unwilling to enrol in military service but yet to be willing to mine coal which was used to produce weapons. From his comments, it seems that he thought most claims of conscientious objection were not genuine. The Chairman, from his comments, made it clear that he could not understand how anyone in their right mind could be a conscientious objector. Unsurprisingly then, the Tribunal rejected almost all applications made on the basis of conscientious objection. Of the 17 conscientious objectors who appeared before the Tribunal, 12 (71%) had their application denied. It seems that this experience was similar to experiences of conscientious objectors in general during the first world war.
Appeals and Final Outcomes
In most cases, the final outcome of the applications by conscientious objectors in Kirkby is not known. Many applicants indicated they would appeal to the Central Tribunal. But, whether they did and, if they did, what the outcome was, is largely not known.
In June 1917, the Kirkby Tribunal went on strike because it was unhappy that two of its decisions has been overturned. One of the cases related to a conscientious objector who the Tribunal had recommended for non-combatant service. However, the War Office had not called him up because of his religious beliefs. I suspect this might have been the case of W Smith as he appears to have been the only applicant recommended by Kirkby Tribunal for non-combatant service based on being a conscientious objector.
Refusal to Report
According to the Mansfield Reporter of 7 June 1918, Kirkby youth Frank William Bagley was charged under the Military Service Act with failing to report himself for service on 4 June. He admitted it, saying as a conscientious objector he refused to take up arms. He was fined forty shillings and was ordered to await a military escort.
The proceedings followed a similar format. It appears that some kind of written application had been made in advance. Applicants were then given opportunity to present their case verbally to the Tribunal. Tribunal members, including the Military/National Service Representative, were then able to ask questions. There were some standard questions, e.g. about munitions work.
It was common for an applicant to be accompanied/represented by someone else, such as an employer, a relative or a solicitor. Solicitors who played this role included Mr Gamble, Mr E S B Hopkin, Mr Jackson, Mr Lewis, Mr R H Wiggins and Mr R A Young. There was some criticism of solicitors who made money from such cases.
In a few cases, where they were being represented by others, the applicant themselves did not turn up. In these cases, the Chairman usually commented that the Tribunal wanted to see the applicants themselves. Mostly, the hearings were held in open session but applicants could request to be heard in private.
Around two thirds of hearings (360/543, 66%) resulted in some form of exemption. Fewer than one in ten hearings (53/543, 9.8%) ended with the application denied. However, just over one in six applicants (53/299, 18%) had their appeals denied in the end. There were a range of other outcomes and these are also briefly discussed here.
In just over one in six hearings (96/543, 18%), the Tribunal granted a conditional exemption. This meant that the applicant was exempt from military service based on fulfilling one or more conditions. Such conditions usually related to their employment but could relate to other things, such as working on the land, working in the colliery, being a special constable etc. Older, married men with children and a low medical grade were more likely to receive a conditional exemption than others. I believe these exemptions were temporary for six months but could be renewed subsequently. If they were reviewed earlier than after six months, I assume this was because of an appeal by the Military Representative.
The commonest result of a hearing was that the Tribunal issued a time-limited exemption. This happened in almost half of all hearings (261/543, 48%). Usually, the Tribunal granted such exemptions to allow applicants to resolve or address specific matters before they were called up. The length of exemption varied from around one to six months. For the longest exemptions of six months, I suspect some of these may have been conditional in nature but they were recorded as an exemption of six months in the news articles I reviewed.
Possibly one specific form of time-limited exemption was when the Tribunal gave the applicant time to find a substitute. I found eight instances of hearings referring to substitution. I am not completely sure what this meant. It seems there was a system whereby someone who was not able to take on active service might take on another role of national importance, allowing someone who was in that role to be made available for active service. It appears there were substitution officers and substitution lists.
However, I am not sure how this applies to these applications, whether the applicant needed a substitute in their role so they could go on active service or if they were identified as a substitute for others. It is possible that there were different meanings in different hearings.
Exempt Until 19 Years Old
Another specific type of time-limited exemption was of 18 year-olds who were exempted until they were 19. Up until January 1917, the Tribunal heard four such cases.
In one case, the Tribunal recommended a conscientious objector, W Smith, for non-combatant service.
The Tribunal granted very few total/absolute exemptions, only 13 in 543 hearings (2.4% or 4.3% of 299 applicants). Mostly, these cases related to ill-health or infirmity. However, in some cases, the reason was not clearly stated. In one case, Mr H D Fox, the Tribunal granted this on grounds of conscientious objection. In another, Horace Kayton, a total exemption was given to a doctor because of their scarcity.
As mentioned above, fewer than one in ten hearings (53/543, 9.8%) ended with the application denied. However, just over one in six applicants (53/299, 18%) had their appeals denied in the end. This percentage was much higher among applicants on grounds of conscientious objection. Of the 17 conscientious objectors who appeared before the Tribunal, 12 (71%) had their application denied.
Referral to Other Bodies
In some cases, the Tribunal decided that another body was better placed to hear the application. So, in four cases (five hearings), applicants were referred to the Colliery Tribunal. In the case of Samuel R Kirk, the Tribunal referred him to the County Tribunal. However, that Tribunal simply referred him back to the Local Tribunal.
Referral to Medical Assessment
In a relatively high number of hearings (42/543, 7.7%), applicants had not received a medical assessment or the Tribunal wanted this done again. So, their hearing was adjourned and the applicant was referred for medical assessment.
A number of hearings (27/543, 5.0%) were adjourned for reasons other than to have a medical assessment. Reasons included applicant illness, to allow all cases from the East Kirkby Co-operative Society to be heard together and pending a decision from another body. Sometimes, no reason was given. In most cases, adjournments were to the Tribunal’s next meeting. In James Toon Bailey’s case, it was said to have been adjourned “sine die“, that is without a date for reassessment.
Ruling on Appeals
Sometimes, the Tribunal heard cases to see if an appeal would be allowed or not.
Appeals from the Military Representative That Were Allowed
In five cases, the appeal came from the Military Representative. In two of these cases, the appeal was allowed. These were the cases of Joseph J Dovey and Frank Thompson.
John Joseph Dovey
I am particularly interested in one of these as it relates to my great uncle. John Joseph (Joe) Dovey, see Chapter 9. In November 1916, the Tribunal noted that he had been passed in Class C3 but the Military Representative appealed against this and it was this appeal that the Tribunal allowed. I am not exactly sure what happened next but it seems he may have had another medical assessment but perhaps only in July 1917. According to grandad’s diary, he was assessed as Grade 3. However, the Tribunal, in July 1917, recorded his grade as C2. He was granted a conditional exemption. He was seen again in December 1917. By then, he had had another medical which assessed him as Grade 3. The outcome of that hearing was that he was given a further final exemption of three months.
Appeals from the Military Representative That Were Denied
In three of the five cases, the appeals/applications of the Military Representative were disallowed/refused. These were the cases of Fred Budding, George W Heath and Sydney S Whyld.
Requests from applicants for leave to appeal
In a few cases, the Tribunal heard applications for leave to appeal. These were successful in two cases, Ernest Coleman and William A Curtis, and unsuccessful in three, Frank Edge, William Harold Green and W A Wightman.
There were 13 cases where the Tribunal did not consider the application. In seven cases, it was decided to leave the matter to the Army and the colliery authorities. Also, in four cases, the Annesley Branch of Notts Miners’ Association agreed to find substitutes in cases of hardship. In one case, R J Fletcher, the military gave permission to withdraw the appeal as he was going into hospital and they had no intention to call him up at that time. In the case of J Kirk Jnr, it was reported that he had joined up so there was no need for the case.
In a few cases (20/543, 3.7%), the news article was not clear as to the outcome of the hearing. In some of these cases, there were issues in reading the original record.
When I was initially reviewing diary material for this topic, I came across an entry which noted that grandad’s brother, Cyril Parkin, was due to appear at the County Tribunal in Nottingham in June 1917 but had not been able to as the Tribunal was on strike. I wondered what that was about and found material about a fairly well-known Tribunal strike about which a book has been written, see Chapter 9.
Strikes Were Not Uncommon
In looking into the Kirkby Tribunal in more detail, it became clear that such Tribunal strikes were not uncommon. I have found evidence of such strikes in Derby, Mansfield, Nottingham and Sutton. Commonly, they arose because the Tribunal was unhappy about how it was being treated by the War Office, other Tribunals and/or their Military Representative. There were other reasons though. For example, in November 1918,, there was a strike over the proposed amalgamation of Ilkeston, Heanor and Ripley Tribunals.
The Kirkby Tribunal Went on Strike
While I have not yet found information about the strike at Nottinghamshire County Tribunal which affected Cyril, I have found details of a strike by the Kirkby Tribunal which is relevant here.
On 23 June 1917, the Gazette and Echo reported that 25 applicants, who had attended the Tribunal the previous Tuesday, the 19th had had the benefit of a postponement because the Tribunal was on strike. The Chairman highlighted two cases over which the Tribunal was unhappy. The first related to a local colliery clerk who had been allowed three months by the Tribunal. He then appealed to the Colliery Tribunal who exempted him. The second case was of a conscientious objector who the Tribunal had recommended for non-combatant service. However, the War Office had not called him because of his religious beliefs.
The Tribunal’s first sitting after the strike was on Monday 16 July 1917. The Mansfield Reporter and Sutton Times reported that the Chairman made a brief statement explaining why they had been on strike which focused on the intervention of the Colliery Tribunal. The Tribunal considered the matter at an end. The Chairman emphasised that if anyone was unhappy with a decision of the Local Tribunal they could appeal to the County or Central Tribunal.
In addition to grandad’s brother, Cyril, and his brother-in-law, Joe, a number of other people who are mentioned in grandad’s diaries appeared before the Tribunal. These included Eric C Bowmar, James Cresswell, Frank C Greensmith, Albert Edward Hutchinson, Fred Hutton, J Kirby, Lewis Leivers, Edwin Marriott, Albert Newcombe, Frank Newcombe, Phil Newcombe, Arthur Titterton, Edwin Abel Tryner, William Walker and W H Wightman.
Applicants Who Died in the War
While I don’t know precisely what happened to all applicants, I did look for names which appear on the Kirkby War Memorial, i.e. those who died in the war. I found ten common names although I think only eight of them refer to the same person. While, this is a significant number, there are over 240 names on that Memorial. I briefly consider each former Tribunal applicant whose name appears on the Kirkby War Memorial.
Arthur Brown was a 27 year-old pork butcher who appeared before the Tribunal once in June 1916. He worked at Annesley Colliery Co-op so the Military Representative and other Tribunal members thought his case should have been heard in Annesley. The Chairman disagreed. The Tribunal heard the case and granted him an exemption of one month.
There is an Arthur Brown listed on the Kirkby war memorial but it is a common name and I am fairly confident that it was not him. The Arthur Brown who died was said to have been married to Mary Matilda. I think I have tracked a butcher by the name of Arthur Brown in the 1911 census and crucially in the 1921 census and the 1939 Register. His wife’s names was Lydia.
Henry (Harry) Claypham/Clayton/Clayphan
In July 1916, the Mansfield Reporter and Sutton Times noted that Henry Claypham appeared before the Tribunal. He was described as an 18 year-old farm foreman living in Orchard Street. He was exempted until he was 19.
One year later, in July 1917, the Mansfield Reporter and Sutton-in-Ashfield Times noted that an H Clayton appeared before the Tribunal. He lived at 6 Orchard Street and was 19 years old. He was described as a milk retailer and farm hand. Mr Cardiner, his employer, spoke for him and appealed for him to be allowed to help with the harvest. His medical classification was Class A. He was given a final exemption of one month. While the names are different, they are sufficiently similar that the age, address and occupation might indicate that they are the same person.
There is a Henry Clayphan listed on the Kirkby war memorial. I am confident it is him as, in 1911, he was living at 6 Orchard Street in Kirkby. He was born in 1898 or 1899. He served in the 41st Siege Bty Royal Garrison Artillery. On 22 August 1918, he was killed in action and was buried in Dernacourt Communal Cemetery Extension, Somme. Apparently, his name is also on the war memorial in St Wilfrid’s Church. There was a notice of his death in The Mansfield Reporter and Sutton Times of August 30 1918. In that notice, he is referred to as Harry.
Harold Cupitt first appeared before the Tribunal in May 1916 as noted in the Mansfield Reporter and Sutton Times. His appeal was handled by his employer, The Co-operative Society. He was aged 28 and lived in Sherwood Street, Annesley Woodhouse. The nature of his work was not described in this article. However, the Society reported inability to obtain labour and that the work was “too heavy for females“. He was granted an exemption of one month.
His case was considered again by the Tribunal in July 1916 as reported in the same paper. He was not in attendance. On this occasion, his name was spelled Cupit. He was described as a slaughterer. He was also described as having three children. Again, the matter was handled by Annesley Woodhouse Co-operative Society who explained how many animals they sold per week and how many families they supplied. It is very difficult to read the judgment as the type has not copied clearly. It appears to say “months and leave to appeal” but the number of months cannot be made out.
His case came back to the Tribunal in February 1917. Again, his surname was spelled with one “t“, Cupit. On this occasion, he was described as a butcher’s slaughterman living at 8 Sherwood Street, Annesley Woodhouse. Somewhat confusingly, his age was now given as 24. His case was adjourned pending medical examination. I have not found any record of him returning to the Tribunal.
Harold Cupit – Killed in Action
The name of Harold L Cupit appears on the Kirkby War Memorial. He was noted as living at 8 Sherwood Street, Annesley Woodhouse. He was born in 1892 and was married with three children. As of 1911, he was working as a butcher’s assistant. He was posted to the 2/8th Battalion Sherwood Foresters on 27 July 1917. On 26 September 1917, he was killed in action during the attack at St Julian, Belgium. He is buried at Tyne Cot Cemetery in Belgium.
Tom Connelly Goodall
T C Goodall, a 31 year-old joiner living in Crocus Street, appeared before the Tribunal in July 1916. He was married with one child. His employer appeared for him and asked for a temporary exemption as they had two months’ work in hand. He said he was willing to go anywhere if he was sent. The Tribunal gave him an exemption of one month with no appeal to the Local Tribunal.
The name of Tom Connelly Goodall is listed on the Kirkby War Memorial. He was married to Rebecca with one child Harry. According to the 1911 census, they were living at Fryston Villas in Crocus Street. He was working as a joiner. He joined the 3rd Bn Sherwood Foresters. On 23 December 1916, he died and is buried in Kingsway Old Cemetery.
The Mansfield Reporter and Sutton Times of 5 January 1917 contained a report of his funeral which took place the previous day. It noted that he had joined up in August 1916. He died at Wearmouth Hospital in Sunderland of the complications of influenza and pneumonia. Rev E C Hodges conducted the service. The band and firing party from Clipstone Camp were in attendance.
William Henry Hibbert
W H Hibbert first appeared before the Tribunal in July 1916. Although the text is not very clear, he was described as a 32 year-old licence holder in Byron Street. His case was presented by a solicitor, Mr Jackson. He was married with children, but the number is not legible. His wife was not able to run the business as she had to give a good deal of her time to her mother. He preferred munitions work if sent. The decision of the Tribunal is not legible with the exception that he was given leave to appeal back to the Local Tribunal.
He did indeed return to the Tribunal in January 1917. At this point, he was said to be 33 years old. He was described as a grocer’s off licence at 17 Byron Street. His case was adjourned for medical examination.
He was back again in February 1917. On this occasion, he was described as a grocer with other particulars, such as age and address, unchanged. He was accompanied by Mr Jackson, a solicitor but no outcome of the hearing was recorded.
He returned again in March 1917. Again, he was accompanied by Mr Jackson. He was again described as a grocer although his age was given as 32 years. The report confirmed that he was married with three children. New information was that he was classified in medical class A.
William Henry Hibbert – Killed in Action
The name of William Henry Hibbert is listed on the Kirkby War Memorial. His address was confirmed as 17 Byron Street. His wife’s name was Florence and their three children were Raymond Francis, Stanley and Florence Daisy. In the 1911 census, he was described as a beer off-keeper. He was a private in the 2nd Bn South Staffordshire Regiment. He enlisted at Mansfield and was killed in action on 30 November 1917. Having no known grave, his name is commemorated on the Cambrai Memorial in France.
In the Mansfield Reporter and Sutton Times of 14 December 1917, there was a report that Private W H Hibbert had been killed. This was not based on official notification from the War Office but on a letter received from one of his comrades.
John Bernard Horabin
J B Horabin appeared before the Tribunal in April 1918. He was said to be 21 years old, single and to live at 39 Fox Street, Annesley Woodhouse. He claimed the “50 per cent basis” and had nothing else to say. The case was dismissed.
The name of John Bernard Horabin is listed on the Kirkby War Memorial. He was born in 1895. According to the 1911 census, he lived with his parents, Thomas Bradley and Elizabeth, at 39 Fox Street, Annesley Woodhouse. He was working as a colliery banksman above ground. He had one brother Willis (aged 19).
In his time in the military, he served with the 1/5th Battalion Lincolnshire Regiment. He was killed in action on 17 October 1918 and is commemorated on Vis-en-Artois Memorial, Pas de Calais, France.
Of interest, given his claim for exemption, his brother Willis survived the war. According to the 1921 census, he was living with his parents in Blidworth as a boarder. He was working as a foreman electrician for the the Stanton Iron Works Company. He was married to Laura Edith and they had two daughters Marjorie and Jessie. Based on the 1939 Register, they had a third daughter Jean. I have not found details of his war record as, perhaps surprisingly, there are such records for more than one W Horabin.
Albert Lockwood was one of a number of employees of East Kirkby Co-operative Society who appeared before the Tribunal in July 1916. He was described as 29 years old, a carter and living in Milton Street. He was granted an exemption of two months with leave to appeal to the Local Tribunal.
I found a record of A Lockwood appearing before the Tribunal in March 1917. At this point, he was said to be 31 and was described as a shop assistant. He was living in Milton Street. He was said to have “passed in C1” which refers to his medical classification. The Tribunal granted him a further exemption of one month.
It seems he may have appealed as, in April 1917, he appeared before the Tribunal again. He was noted to be living at 67 Milton Street and his age was given as 31. He was described as a grocer’s carter. His medical classification was confirmed as C1 and he was described as having a wife and two children. His appeal was dismissed.
Albert Lockwood – Killed in Action
The name of Albert Lockwood is listed on the Kirkby War Memorial. He was born in 1886. He was noted as living at 67 Milton Street. His wife’s name was Ada and they had two daughters Betty and Agnes. He joined the 5th Bn Alexandra Princess of Wales’s Own (Yorkshire Regiment). He went missing in action on 25 March 1918 and was later confirmed killed in action on that date. As he had no known grave, his name is commemorated on the Pozieres Memorial.
One issue in his case is that his medical classification (C1) means that he was considered fit for home service. One of the criticisms of the system, see Chapter 9, was that men who were enlisted under a particular category could still be deployed to active service at the Front. This appears to be a case in point.
L Nixon appeared before the Tribunal in March 1917. He was described as an 18 year-old miners’ coal carter. He was living at 111 Vernon Road. At the hearing, he argued that miners were needed to provide coal. His mother supported the application as his father was ill. He was described as a “Class A” man. The Tribunal granted him a final exemption of one month.
Leonard Nixon is listed on the Kirkby War Memorial. He was born on 20 November 1899. In 1911, he was living with his parents, William and Annie, at 111 Vernon Road. He was working a a coal carter.
Leonard served in the 1st Bn Sherwood Foresters. He landed in France on 6 February 1918 and he died of his wounds, as a prisoner of war, on 3 June 1918. He is buried in Guise (La Desolation) French National Cemetery, Flavigny-le-Petit.
Ernest Edward Siddy
Ernest E Siddy first appeared before the Tribunal in August 1916. He was described as a 34 year-old bricklayer. It was noted that he was “unattested“. Attesting was a way, prior to conscription, of men indicating that they would enlist if called on to do so. It seems he had not done this. The Tribunal granted him temporary exemption for six months.
He came back before the Tribunal in June 1917. The report noted that he was a bricklayer living in Pond Street. His age was given as 35. His medical grade was Class B1. He was said to have a wife in poor health and six children. He was given a final exemption of three months.
Ernest Edward Siddy is listed on Kirkby War Memorial. He was living at Springfield Cottage, Pond Street. His wife was Sarah and their children were Ernest Edward, Mary Irene, Harold Joseph, Bernard, Kathleen and Lloyd.
Ernest Siddy – Killed in an Accident
He served with the Inland Water Transport Royal Engineers. He was killed on 26 October 1917 while brick laying at an airfield in southern England. The pilot was practising take off and landing when on the sixth attempt his plane stalled and crashed. Ernest was hit by the plane and died of head injuries. The pilot survived. Ernest is buried in Kingsway Old Cemetery.
Details of the accident were published in the Salisbury Times and South Wilts Gazette of 30 November 1917. The pilot was Second Lieutenant Gray and he was practising landings. He had made five but on the sixth attempt, “when he got about 20 feet off the ground the engine stopped. He could do nothing and the machine went straight on and down. It struck the aerodrome and knocked over a bell tent, then struck an RFC touring car and landed on top of an RFC trailer. Two men in the tent were injured and a man outside was killed.”
Possible causes of the accident included a valve sticking or dirt in the petrol. A witness, Lance Corporal Evans, noted that Siddy was working in a building about two feet high and the machine struck him and carried him about four yards. Captain Badger of the RAMC testified that the cause of death had been a severe head injury. The inquest jury returned a verdict of accidental death.
Ernest Siddy – Questions Over Pension
Among papers related to his war record, there is some correspondence concerning Sarah’s widow pension. One of the letters notes, “The Widow of the above named man, Mrs Sarah Siddy, Pond Street, East Kirkby, has under her care a child named Ernest Edward Siddy, born 19th April 1908, before wedlock. From the marriage certificate in my custody it is observed that Ernest Edward Siddy, a batchelor, married Sarah Chadburn, spinster, at the Register Office, Basford, on 25th May 1908. I regret to state that Sapper Siddy was accidentally killed by an aeroplane while working at Lakedown Camp on 26th November 1917 and an application to pension has now been received from the Widow. I shall be obliged therefore if you will cause enquiries to be made and inform me if you are satisfied that the late soldier was the father of the child, Ernest Edward Siddy.”
William Henry Smith
William Henry Smith appeared before the Tribunal in May 1916. He was described as a 22 year-old brickmaker employed at Bentinck Colliery. He appealed on the grounds of maintaining his brother aged 12 and his sister aged 15. The Colliery Company supported his claim. The applicant did not attend and “on the ground that he could not be held responsible for supporting his relatives and that he was not indispensable to the Colliery Company, the appeal was not allowed“.
The name of William Herbert Henry Smith is listed on the Kirkby War Memorial but I don’t believe it is the same person. He was born on 23 June 1896 which would mean he would have only been 19 in May 1916.
H Wright first appeared before the Tribunal in December 1916. He was described as a grocery counterman living in Sherwood Street, Annesley Woodhouse. His case was adjourned.
He was back in front of the Tribunal in January 1917. The report noted that he was from Annesley Woodhouse and that he was a grocer’s assistant with the Annesley Woodhouse Co-operative Society. His age was given as 24. He was supported by Mr Mattley. His medical classification was Class A. He was given a final exemption of two months.
Harry Wright is listed on Kirkby War Memorial. He was born in 1893. He lived at 33 Wesley Street Annesley in 1911 and was described as a grocer in a Co-op store. His parents were Joseph and Mary.
He served initially in the Sherwood Foresters and then transferred to the 2nd Bn Suffolk Regiment. He died of wounds on 26 September 1917. As he had no known grave, his name is commemorated on the Tyne Cot Memorial.