28 March–3 April 1916: COs at the Battersea Tribunal

The Battersea Military Service Tribunals meeting on 28th March was one of several – they met on Thursday, Saturday and Tuesday.  The Tribunal seemed to be in reasonably sympathetic form, going by the reports in the South Western Star, but that did not make them any more likely to allow a claim for exemption.  The grounds for application for exemption were normally classed by a letter, which would denote which type of application it was i.e workplace or health, but occasionally a longer explanation is added.

G H Jarratt of Eversleigh Road applied for exemption as “E & Conscientious” [E was “ill health and infirmity”] – a claim which was disallowed. Unusually, the South Western Star, doesn’t mention him in its coverage of the tribunals, and it also ignores Frank Newnham, whose grounds are “objection to killing”, but it does mention J H Hollowell of Stewarts Road, whose application came under “religious”.

James Henry Hollowell was a dispenser’s assistant (described as a “pill maker” with the British Drug House in the 1911 census), and lived with his parents, three siblings and grandmother. According to the report in the Star, he objected to the killing of mankind, but was willing to undertake RAMC or sanitary work.  The Tribunal objected to this, saying that a conscientious objection could not be considered if the man was already attested.  Hollowell was then praised for being “reasonable”, as he had tried and failed to get in to the RAMC and “didn’t want to trouble you if I could possibly avoid it”.  Impressed with this, the Tribunal then promised to recommend him for the RAMC, whilst disallowing his claim for exemption.

This recommendation did not get him very far, as his army medal card shows that he served in the Rifle Brigade and the Kings Own Royal Rifle Corps – although details of what he was doing are not specified. He survived the war, however, marrying in St George’s Battersea in August 1918 his occupation is described as “soldier”, and he lived to be 71.

The coverage of the Tribunal also includes a note that Mr Tennant is “inquiring into the allegation” that one of the military representatives had referred to the Non-Combatant Corps as the “No Courage Corps”. This was not an unusual attitude, as this article explains.  It’s not clear who Mr Tennant was, he was not a member of the Tribunal and the newspaper does not give any further information – presumably, everyone at the time knew!

Battersea Military Service Tribunal minutes, ref: MBB/2/25/2

South Western Star available on microfilm

More about Military Service Tribunals can be found here.

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11-17 January 1916: The First Military Service Tribunal

On 11 January 1916 the Battersea Local Tribunal met to consider cases for the first time. Present at the meeting were the Mayor, W J Moore, who was chairing, W Hammond, H G White, W Watts and A Winfield, as well as military representative Captain Briggs and his deputy Lieutenant Jones.

37 men who had attested (meaning they had an obligation to come if called at a later date) were applying to be placed in a later group or were in a reserved occupation. Call up was done in groups, with the lowest numbered groups being called up first, so being placed in a later group gave more time to make arrangements at home if required.  There were then 46 more claims which the Military Representative objected to for some reason.

Of those 46 claims, the Tribunal agreed to defer 9. One claim was withdrawn, that of Fred Fordy.  He was a greengrocer’s assistant at S J Smith, 158 Battersea Park Road – the application to the Tribunal was actually made by his employer.  Fordy was 18 and had been working for Smith since he was 14, possibly earlier, as he is listed as a greengrocer’s assistant on the 1911 census.  He was killed in May 1917 and is recorded on the Arras memorial.

George S Parry of Broomwood Road was one of those deferred to a later group, possibly because of his occupation – which is listed as a Cadet with the Officers Training Corps. He was put into Group 10, which was mobilised on 29 Febuary 1916 – in his case, as part of the local 23rd County of London regiment.  Sadly he was killed in September 1916, just a few months after mobilisation.

Tribunal decision column 14 JanOf the four cases adjourned for a later decision, three claims were placed in later Groups the following week, and the fourth case a week after that. None of the claims were successful, and the Tribunal passed un-reported in the local newspapers (although later Tribunals are reported in detail, and we will come back to the Tribunal in future weeks).  As is clear from this the majority of the appeals were “disallowed”, a pattern which is maintained throughout all the Tribunals.  There did not seem to be any difference between the 18 men whose employers had made the application and those who made it themselves – they were just as likely to be unsuccessful.

Several of the men came from outside Battersea, including one from Hammersmith, one from Hounslow and one from Croydon. All of them worked for Battersea employers, F J Maidment was a Railway Despatch Clerk for Aplin & Barrett Ltd (a dairy on Parkgate Road, then known as Park Road), but resident in Hammersmith.  S J Finch was a butcher from Hounslow, who worked for F North on St Johns Hill and L J J Wright came from Albert Road, Croydon every day to work as a clerk for CGT Butler’s insurance brokers on Northcote Road.  All of them appear to have survived the war, as it has not been possible to match them to records on the Commonwealth War Graves Commission site.  The Tribunal does not record their full names, and none of them are easy to trace on the 1911 census either.

Tribunal page 14 Jan

Battersea Local [Military Service] Tribunal minutes, ref: MBB/2/25/2