Oldham Historical Research Group

'What passing-bells for these who die as cattle?
- Only the monstrous anger of the guns.'
from 'Anthem for Doomed Youth' by Wilfred Owen


Oldham Chronicle 8th July 1916


Transcript of proceedings at the Oldham Military Service Tribunals, Monday, Wednesday & Thursday that week.
(A fairly typical example of those found in the local newspapeers)

"Several Oldham men appealed to the Oldham Tribunal on Monday afternoon for exemption from service on the ground that they hold a conscientious objection against war and against having connection with the war.

The first appeal heard was that of Fred Reed(35 years), a pavier employed by the Oldham Corporation. He is a member of the International Bible Students' Association. He wrote in support of his claim for exemption, and in exposition of his views, that he held war to be against the teachings of Christ. All the present kingdoms must be subdued before the coming of the kingdom of Christ, so it would be inconsistent to keep them up. Having sworn allegiance to the King of kings, he would prove himself a traitor if he swore allegiance to any other. As for the taking of the sword, Christ had rebuked Peter for using his sword, and if ever a cause was just, Christ's cause was just.

One of the questions which the appellants were asked to answer in writing was this: How do you reconcile enjoying the privileges of British citizenship with your refusal to do service.

Reed wrote that he could not undertake work that would support the war. Nearly all the nations now at war claimed to be Christian nations. The claim they made and the attitude they assumed towards one another seemed to him a contradiction in terms. If his duty towards God clashed with his duty towards his country, the former must be obeyed. He recognised his position as being that of an alien. An alien must be obedient to the laws of the country in which he lived; so must he. An alien must pay taxes; so must he. He appreciated the advantage of every good law, and he believed that the advantage of being born in England was in excess perhaps of all other nations, but he held that his chief duty was towards God.

As for non-combatant service, he wrote that to prosecute war both branches of service were necessary, and to engage in either would be to abandon the advantage of being a follower of God.

The Mayor here explained that the members of the tribunal had discussed the question of non-combatant service before the public sitting, and it was suggested that the appellants should be sent before the Appeals Tribunal at Manchester. If there was a useful national service that could be done in Oldham why send them to Manchester?

From a recital of various decided cases which had been heard before the Central Appeals Tribunal the Town Clerk read a case which was somewhat similar to that of the present appellant. In that case exemption was granted from combatant service only.

The Mayor asked Reed if he could help the tribunal on that point.

Appellant said that he considered the work he is doing to be work of national importance. There were only two paviers in the central division of the town.

The Mayor: How long have you been a member of the International Bible Students' Association?
- Nearly five years.
Councillor Frith: Some of your people are engaged on munition work.
- Of course, that has nothing to do with you.
Councillor Frith: You answer the question 10B by claiming to be an alien?
- I don't claim to be an alien. I put myself in the position of an alien. I appreciate very much the privileges I already enjoy but I cannot reconcile them with the views I have come to after studying the Bible.
Alderman Middleton: If you were sent into the army would you feel it your duty to decline service?
- Yes I would.
Alderman Middleton : would you be willing to accept the consequences and to undergo the punishment you were liable to?
- Yes.
Councillor Frith : Even for non-combatant service?
- I cannot participate in anything that would tend to support the war.
Councillor Heywood : You appreciate the privileges of living here but you are not prepared to defend them.

Reed replied that he had always been ready to do the best he could for his fellow-man. He was quite willing, he said, to do work of national service not under military control : transport, agriculture, and so on; of work in hospitals, in short any work that he could satisfy himself was in keeping with his beliefs.

Councillor Frith remarked that such work as railway work and agricultural work was supporting the war.

The Tribunal decided to grant his appeal only so far as to exempt him from combatant service.

Job Charnock, of 3, Widdop Street, another conscientious objector, was soon disposed of, for he is a planing mule carriage builder employed by Messrs. Plat Bros. and Co., and according to the general and wide terms of the last order setting out the certified occupations he is exempt from service.
A revised list is in course of preparation in which the different branches of the various trades will, presumably, be specifically named. Meanwhile the Tribunal held that Charnock is exempt, and he said that he was willing to stop at his own work so temporary exemption to September 1st was granted.

Arthur Winterbottom (26 years), ledger clerk employed by the Manchester and County Bank Ltd., and living in Chamber Road, claimed absolute exemption from military service because he believed all war to be wrong and contrary to the highest religious and moral instincts of humanity. War was entirely opposed to the spirit and teaching of God and the brotherhood of man. Force was no remedy for evil.
He pointed out that his grandfather was a member of the Society of Friends, and that his father, although not a member of that Society, had always been an ardent pacifist, so that the whole tendency of his bringing-up had been to give him a bias towards pacifism.
His objection to non-combatant service was that he could not recognise any moral distinction between combatant and non-combatant service. The man who made the shell, the man who helped to convey it to the front, and the man who fires it were all equally responsible for what followed by the use of the shell.
As he was only skilled in his present occupation it was obvious that it would be a waste rather than a gain to the nation to put him in an occupation in which he was unskilled. He was unskilled in all the occupations recommended by the Pelham committee. He considered that the work he was doing was of national importance.

Mention was made of the fact that the appellant is secretary to the men's class held at the Queen Street Congregational Sunday School. A letter was read from Mr. Ernest Lee, who wrote that he did not believe there was a man in the class but believed, as he did, in the appellant’s bona-fides. He urged Mr. Winterbottom to make some sacrifice and strongly advised him not not to have anything to do with any organisation; he was hostile to organised conscience.

Councillor Frith put it to the appellant that banking companies were helping in the war. If the banks closed, so would the war.
Appellant said that the banks were also helping to carry on the civil business of the country. If there was any application for war loan, or the like, the other clerks, out of sympathy, relieved him of the duty.
In reply to Councillor Schofield, he said that he was willing to do anything that the Government wished him to do unless it conflicted with his conscientious convictions.

One of the questions put to appellants asked what sacrifices they had made for their principles.
Appellant wrote in answer that as the question had only recently become a burning one, and as they had imagined that the fight for liberty of conscience had been fought and won, he had no opportunity of making sacrifices for the principles he held. But he offered to the Tribunal that he was willing to be placed for the duration of the war in no better position financially than if he were a private in the army, and the remainder of the salary he got, after making allowance for his wife could be given to a charity.
It did not look fair, he agreed, to other people that he should, in a sense, gain by the views he held and therefore he was ready to make some material sacrifice.

The Tribunal, as before, only exempted the appellant from combatant service.

George H. Whitehead (38 years), clerk and accounts collector wrote, in claiming exemption on conscientious grounds, that for four years he had been studying to educate himself for preaching, and he had an invitation to accept the hon. pastorate of a Baptist Church in Manchester.
For twelve years he had been teacher of the Young Men's Bible Class at the Chamber Road Baptist Church.
A letter was read from the hon. secretary of the Manchester District Lay Preachers' Association, of which association the appellant is a member, to the effect that he had every reason to believe the the objection against military service was of a bona-fide character.

Councillor Schofield : I take it, Mr. Whitehead, that you have objected to war for some considerable time?
- Ever since I began to think.
Councillor Schofield : You would be quite willing to enter on hospital work and the like if called upon to do it?
- Whatever you tell me to do, I shall have to bow to the inevitable. But I submit that I am engaged on work higher than anyone could put me to.
Captain Almond put it to the appellant that it was unlikely the invitation to the pastorate of the church would not be open to him after the war if he went into hospital work, high and elevating work, suitable for a man of his type.
Councillor Schofield : If you promised to take up hospital work for the time of the war, I don't think it would affect your prospects of preaching. I believe they would think all the more of you afterwards.

Appellant was granted temporary exemption to September 1st.

Harry Lawton, of 36, Malton Street, manager of a drapery shop at Mumps, Oldham of which Mr. S. Ardern is the proprietor, personally asked for exemption on conscientious grounds, and his employer wanted him exempted as being indispensable to the carrying on of his Oldham business.
Mr. Shimeld, solicitor, represented the the employer on the business claim.

Lawton wrote that as a believer in and follower of the Lord Jesus Christ, who came not to destroy human lives, but to save them, and who has left an example we should follow, he could not take up arms contrary to the will of his Master.
He did not take part in Parliamentary or municipal affairs, beyond paying what was demanded of him, as did also Christ. He was thankful to have been born in England, and he desired to be law-abiding, and to regard the Government with becoming respect as a Christian.

Temporary exemption to Sept. 1st was granted on the employer's appeal. The appeal on conscientious grounds can be heard at the next hearing if desired.

William Henry Hatton, of 13 Montgomery Street, Hollinwood, a draughtsman of switches and switch gear, employed by Messrs, Ferranti Ltd. of Hollinwood, wrote that he had a religious and conscientious objection against all forms of military service.
He is a member of the Christadelphian Church. Non-combatants were essentially a part of the army, and to be placed under military control was not in harmony with his allegiance to Christ.

Councillor Schofield pointed out that the ambulance unit of the Society of Friends was not under military control.

Councillor Frith asked him how he could reconcile it with his conscience to do work that was helping towards something which would kill men in this war and yet he objected to helping people who were sick and wounded and could not help themselves?
Hatton : I don't say that I have an objection to helping those who cannot help themselves. My principle is that I cannot take part in anything that comes under military control.
Councillor Frith said the place at which he worked was a controlled establishment.
Hatton : I don't take any military oath.
Councillor Frith : Your conscience is such a one that you are not going to make a sacrifice for it?
- I am prepared to leave.
Councillor Frith : But you have not left?
- I am prepared to leave.
Chairman (Mr. Schofield) : Would it not have been a sacrifice to you to give up your work and taken some inferior and less well-paid work for conscience sake. Have you done any such thing?
- I have never had occasion to make any sacrifice before. If you consider it necessary I am prepared to make any sacrifice you tell me.
Chairman : Supposing we ask you to take up non-combatant service, would you accept that?
- That is a branch of military service. I cannot undertake any service where I have to take the oath.
Councillor Frith : But already you are engaged on non-combatant military service except for the taking of the oath. Does the oath make the difference?
- Yes.
Councillor Frith : Well, it doesn't to me. This war will keep on so long as you and others go on helping to make the war material, irrespective of whether you take the oath or not.
Chairman : You seem to me to have taken up a very inconsistent attitude. Having a conscientious objection to this, surely you might have made the sacrifice in the past; not as you say now in the future.
Hatton said he was not working on actual munitions work: making shells, and so on.
Mr. Jackson : What are you doing now?
- At the present time I am engaged on drawing out switch gear for an electric lighting and power station in France.
Councillor Frith : That is direct war work.
The Chairman said to the appellant that drawing was the foundation of the machine. The draughtsman was just as essential as the man who actually worked with a tool. Surely he would not say that General Joffre was not a soldier because he never handled a rifle.
Hatton : My objection is simply against actual fighting, against taking up the sword, and against taking the military oath to obey the king when I have taken the oath to obey Christ.
Chairman : Do you mean to say that as a member of this community you cannot take an oath to obey your earthly king as well as owe allegiance to a heavenly King? You accept all the benefits of the earthly kingdom.
Councillor Frith : You accept all the privileges and don't take the duties.
Chairman : You cannot live in a community and separate yourself from that community.
Hatton : We do separate ourselves.
Chairman : You do in name, but not in reality. You take the advantages.
Hatton : We live here, certainly.
Chairman : It is no use arguing. We could argue from now until Doomsday. You take the privileges and not the responsibilities. You have a crooked idea of duty to God. I have sworn allegiance to Him, and so have thousands of others. I question very much if in your church before this war there was such a thing as preaching that hospital work is war work. That has crept into a lot of your conscientious societies since the war started.
Hatton : For the past 50 years we have objected strongly to all kinds of military service.

He was exempted from combatant service only.

David Aston, of Milford Avenue, Hollinwood, as electrical meter erector employed by Messrs. Ferranti, Ltd., also a member of the Christadelphian Church, presented his claim for exemption on religious and conscientious grounds.

Councillor Frith asked him if he had any objection to non-combatant service. He replied that he had, because it was a military affair.
Councillor Frith : You are against working on munitions?
- Not necessarily so.
Councillor Frith : For what reason?
- It is not a military affair.
Councillor Frith : But Ferranti's is a controlled firm, and under the Government?
- It doesn't come under the heading of military. It has no military jurisdiction.
Chairman : If at your works you were put on specific war material you would do it?
- Yes.

The appeal was disallowed and Aston accordingly sent to combatant service, although, of course there is the right to appeal against the decision.

In Aston's case, and the following one the tribunal did not see the consistency of a conscience that objected to non-combatant service and allowed of working on munitions.

John Weeder of Osborne Street, Oldham, a labourer employed at Messrs. Ferranti's works, also a member of the Christadelphian Church, asked for exemption on the grounds of conscience.

He was asked if he had any objection against doing war work at Ferranti's?
- I am not on war work.
But you have no objection against it?
- I would rather not do it.
Chairman : Would you give up your business before you would do it?
- I should have to do what my employer told me, so long as I can't leave.
Chairman : But you can leave. You absent yourself six weeks from work.
Mr. Jackson : But if you were ordered to do some other job in the shop connected with munitions you would do it rather than give up your work?
- That question places me in a very funny position.
Mr. Jackson : That is so. Yes or no?
- To my conscience I would rather not.
Chairman : It is not a question of rather. Give a specific statement one way or the other. I take it that if put upon direct war work you would do it rather than give up your position?
- I should have to do, sir.

The appeal was disallowed.

Squire Newton, of Bolton Street, a stripper and grinder, was granted conditional exemption for so long as he remains in that occupation. His conscientious objection was not considered by the Tribunal.

An appeal for exemption from service on conscientious grounds had been sent in by Harry Platt, of Turf Pits Lane, Moorside, employed by Messrs. Thomas Mellodew and Company Ltd., of Moorside, but as he did not present himself to support the appeal the Tribunal disallowed it, after adjourning the hearing for a time to see if he turned up.


The Oldham Tribunal on Wednesday afternoon considered and dealt with several claims for absolute exemption from service sent in by local men on the ground of a conscientious objection against any form of military service.

The first appeal heard was that of William Bradley, a cop packer, of Mayfield Road, Oldham. He wrote that he had been a member of the New and Latter Day House of Israel for 13 years. Members of that church desired to walk in accordance with the Law and the Gospel and in obedience to the commandments contained therein. He had a conscientious objection against taking an oath for Jesus had said, "Swear not at all; neither by heaven, for it is God's throne ... But let your communication be Yea, yea; Nay, nay; for whatever is more than these cometh of evil." And James said, "But above all things my brethren, swear not not, neither by heaven, neither by the earth , neither by any other oath; but let your yea be a yea , and your nay, nay; lest ye fall into condemnation." Other texts of scripture were quoted by the appellant: "They that take the sword shall perish by the sword," and the like. He sought the highest glory promised in the Scriptures: immortality. Later the appellant mentioned that he followed also the Mosaic law: he did not shave nor cut his hair nor eat forbidden food.

The Town Clerk said that a number of references had been received, mostly signed by women members of the Church, testifying that Bradley acted up to the principles of the Church. He is secretary of the Lancashire district.

Mr. Jackson remarked that there was no necessity upon men called up under the Military Service Act to take an oath. There was no necessity for the protest against swearing.

Alderman Middleton pointed out that the men had to sign a paper which was an endorsement of the oath.

Councillor Frith suggested that the words of the Bible referred rather to profane language than to the swearing of allegiance to the King. That was his reading of the Bible.

The appellant dissented from Mr. Frith's interpretation. Several questions were then put to him as to what he would do if his evidence in a court of law would save an innocent man. He replied that he should not object to bearing testimony, but did not directly say that he would take the oath in court, for the discussion switched off into the matter of hospital service. He said that the point of that service was: Would he be compelled to deny his faith in giving that service?

Mr. Jackson remarked that he could not see why he should be forced to anything against his faith in hospital.

The the two instances of Christ saying at one time that certain people should sell their clothes and buy a sword, and at another reproving Peter for using the sword; were quoted, the one by Councillor Schofield and the other by the appellant.

Councillor Frith turned the new direction of the conversation to account by pointing out that Christ had healed the man wounded by Peter. Would Mr. Bradley have any objection against healing a man who had been hurt in war?
- Certainly not; I am prepared to assist anyone in need of help.
Councillor Schofield: Are you prepared to take up hospital work?
- Yes; but I do not wish to deny my faith at all. That is the main point with me. But any way I can do good, I am there.

The Tribunal would not grant absolute exemption, but sent the appellant to non-combatant service with a recommendation that he be given hospital work.

Harry Platt, of Turf Pit Lane, Moorside, mill manager employed by Messrs. Thos. Mellodew and Sons, Moorside Mills, sought exemption from service as a member of the Christadelphian Church.
He had always held a religious conscientious objection against all forms of military service. He became a member of that Church in 1908, he wrote. He objected to non-combatant service for that service was under military control. He was willing to do any civil work of national importance.

Appellant should have been before the Tribunal on Monday, but he and his wife had made a mistake in the date of the hearing, he said.

He was asked what his objection against non-combatant service was?
- He replied that it was under the military. He had no objection to do work that was not under the direction of the military. He would not take hospital work in a military hospital.

The Tribunal resolved to adjourn the hearing until the day following, so as to give an opportunity for evidence on the matter of the appellant's employment.

Smith M. Slater, secretary and manager of the firm Smith Slater Ltd., makers of draught excluders, wrote that he held war to be an unchristian and morally unjustifiable way of dealing with disputes between nations; it was barbarous and futile. There was no other way of ending it than by those who utterly disbelieved in it and loathed it refusing to take any part in it, regardless of consequences. The loathsome train of moral and social evils which followed in the train of war were such as utterly to condemn it in his view as one who believed in the teaching of Jesus. He had no hatred towards Germans nor the men of any other nationality. He could not promise to implicitly obey the orders of the King or any of his officers, for that would be making himself a mere machine.

An appeal for the man's exemption was put in by Mrs. Slater, his mother, and in part the owner of the business, on the ground that he was indispensable to it.

Appellant wrote in the course of answers to the questions put to all the conscientious objectors that he objected to non-combatant service because he would add to the efficiency of the army, an organisation of which the primary objective was the killing of human beings. The fact that he would not have to do the actual killing would not affect his culpability. He did not think the absence of an army and navy would deprive the British people of any privilege worth having. He was quite prepared to stand the consequences of disarmament. But he had a desire to serve his country in any way not connected with war.

A letter was read from Mr Ernest Lee, who wrote that he had no hesitation in stating his firm conviction that Mr. Slater was a bona-fide conscientious objector. He held so strongly views utterly opposed to those of the appellant that he would not have written the letter had he any doubt whatever as to Mr. Slater's sincerity.

Mr. Isaac Crabtree wrote: I have pleasure in stating that I have known Mr. Slater about 14 years. During that period, I can confidently state, he has been firmly opposed to all forms of war and; although I very much disagree with his views, I believe he has a real conscientious objection to military service.

Appellant said that he wished the Tribunal to consider both grounds of appeal.

Councillor Schofield asked him if he had ever preached before the war that ambulance work was wrong and suggested that this part of the conscientious objectors' case was an 'extra' brought out since the war.
Appellant's reply was that before the war they discussed war in general terms only; there was no question then of getting into details. He would object to helping a man wounded in the war to return to the fighting line. If war was wrong the whole thing was wrong.
Councillor Schofield : You pay rates and taxes, don't you?
- Yes.
Councillor Schofield : Therefore you are helping in the war.
In the course of further talk the appellant said that he had been asked to quote for the making of munition boxes, but did not quote.

The Tribunal resolved to disallow the appeal on conscience grounds, and to meet the appeal on the business side by granting temporary exemption to October 1st.

Leonard Widdell, of 262, Copster Hill Road, Oldham, a fitter employed by Messrs. Dronsfield Bros. Ltd., Atlas Works, wrote he was a Christian and a member of the IBSA1 and the religious doctrines he believed and held prevented him from bearing arms. Christ was his ideal, and the life and teaching of Christ had formed the nucleus of his conscience. The broad principles of that teaching were peace not strife, love not hatred, friendliness not enmity. No plea of necessity, however urgent, could over-ride the outstanding features of the life of Christ. He had sworn allegiance to the King of kings and employment in any branch of military service would be a complete violation of his oath.

In answer to the mayor the appellant said that he had not a badge because he was not on munition work. He had objected to go on such work, and if ordered to do so would decline.

The Tribunal decided he must take non-combatant service.

John Rushworth, of Nadin Street, off Hollins Road, a skip maker, employed by Mr. Joseph Brearley, and working at the Durham Mill, wrote that having consecrated himself to God's service he would not take the military oath, as by so doing he would be violating his oath to the King of kings. He was, however, quite willing to undertake work of national importance such as agriculture, etc., seeing that he had an obligation to his country. Whilst prepared to do that, he suggested that his present work is of national importance.

Mr. Jos. B. Kenyon wrote that he believed the appellant was prepared to suffer for his convictions, and those convictions he knew were held by him.

Councillor Schofield : Have you a conscientious objection to ambulance work?
- No, not under civil control.
Councillor Schofield : How long is it since you put civil control into it?
- It was before the war started. I don't wish to be under military control.

The appellant, after conversation upon the decision of the Tribunal to disallow the conscience claim and grant him temporary exemption to October 1st on the ground of his employment, refused to accept that position and decided that he would appeal to the Appeals Tribunal at Manchester against it.

Herbert Buckley (30 years), of Savoy Street, a textile machine fitter employed by Messrs. Platt Bros. and Co. Ltd., wrote that having made a full consecration of his powers to God, and having sworn allegiance to Him, the King of kings, he could not undertake to do service in connection with the present conflict. He is a member of the IBSA. Seeing that all kingdoms had to come down previous to the setting up of Christ's kingdom, he could not in any way assist in keeping them up, for that would be contrary to God's view.

Understanding that he would be exempt as being in a reserved occupation, and that he would have the right of appeal if the reservation was taken off by some future decision of the Government, the appellant withdrew his appeal for exemption on conscience grounds.

Frank George Garrison, of Bridgewater Street, an iron-dresser employed by Messrs. Platt Bros. and Co., Hartford Old Works, wrote that having made a full consecration of himself to God he had also sworn allegiance to the King of kings, our heavenly Father, and therefore could not take up arms against any man. Nor could he accept non-combatant service. He is a member of the IBSA.

It came out that the appellant was formerly employed as a plate moulder but the other men refused to work with him because he had not attested, and he was shifted into another department. In reply to Mr. Schofield he said that he would refuse to work on bombs. In reply to Mr. Middleton he said that he was willing to take up work of national importance other than military service.

The Tribunal exempted him from combatant service only.

Joseph Widdop, of 37, Wren Street, Salem, a tinplate worker and gas meter repairer employed by Messrs. J & J Braddock, wrote that he was against all war from a moral standpoint and pointed out that he was already doing work of national importance, at which he was skilled.

He was asked if he would decline to do war work.
He replied that he did not think so, not with his present firm.
Councillor Frith : Don't you know that you have been doing war work?
- Not to my knowledge.

The appellant was granted exemption as being in a reserved occupation.

Herbert Whitehead, a minder of South Hill Street, employed by Leesbrook Spinning Co., is also exempted from service as being in a reserved occupation. He claimed exemption on religious grounds.

Councillor Schofield : If you were asked to spin yarn for war work, would you spin it?
- One is not asked that question at all.
Councillor Schofield : Would you do it?
- No, certainly not.

Mr. Isaac Crabtree in a letter addressed to Mr. Whitehead : "In answer to your request, I have known you over twenty years and can with confidence state that you have always held the objection against war which you are expressing today. Whilst my sympathies are not with the conscientious objector, yet, to speak truthfully of you, I must state that ever since you were able to express yourself you have always held the views you express today against the war."

Appellant was granted conditional exemption as being in a reserved occupation.


At the Oldham Tribunal on Thursday several more cases of conscientious objectors were heard.

The Town Clerk reported the case of Harry Platt, employed at Moorside Mills. The case had been adjourned by the Tribunal so that the Town Clerk could see what Messrs. Mellodew and Co. were doing in the matter. The Town Clerk said they had spoken to him on the telephone and said they did not appeal for this man because he did not attest. They had made it a rule that they would not appeal for those that did not attest. The man was important to them, almost indispensable, but they said they were not prepared to do anything on that ground.

- After spending much time discussing the position of the man and the nature of his work the tribunal decided that the man must go to non-combatant service.

Thomas Douglas Pearce (39), 110, Clarksfield Road, Oldham, a chief booking clerk for the London and North-Western Railway, and parcels and passenger agent for Oldham, claimed that he had religious and conscientious objection to any form of military service. He was a member of the Christadelphian Church and as such always held religious and conscientious objections to any form of military service, to which the literature of the denomination of the past 50 years and petitions to Parliament testified. As a Christadelphian he could not conscientiously place himself under military control and be in harmony with Christ.
As a railway official he was doing Government controlled work of public utility and labour of more benefit to the country than he would be on something to which he was not accustomed.

Replying to questions by the Mayor and Captain Almond he said he expected he would get a certificate reserving him from the railway company.

The case was adjourned for a week to see if the reservation comes through.

David Walton (31), 34, Norfolk Street, Werneth, coach and motor-body maker, appealed on conscientious grounds. He also said that his trade was certified. The applicant said the New Testament forbade any persons injured in any way repaying the injury received. No religious cause is held as sufficient justification for the transgression of Christ's commands to love one another. He had no objection to serving his country beneficially and not harmful to anyone.

Letters were read from several persons bearing out his statements regarding his conscientious objections and Walton withdrew his claim that he was in an exempted trade.

Alderman Middleton : Those views are your individual views?
- Yes, without exception.
You do not make any pretence that they are Wesleyan Methodist views?
- Not in the least. I state in my answers that the Wesleyan Methodists are divided, even the ministers.

Walton said he had been a Wesleyan all his life. he was not aware that any of the privileges of British citizenship included the maiming and killing of any other man.

Councillor Heywood : The question is : Are you prepared to defend the privileges that we have?
- If the question is to to defend bloodshed of other people, certainly not.
Councillor Schofield : If you saw a woman being struck down in the street what would you do? would you go over and stop that man?
- That depends on ---
Supposing you saw a bully abusing a woman in the street what would you do? Would you go over and stop that man?
- Yes, to stop him, but I would not go to the extent of injuring him.
Supposing you could not do without injuring him would you leave the woman to be murdered?
- Suppose I did leave the woman to be murdered the religious central point of the woman was not being injured, only the body.
Would you allow the bully to kill the woman?
- Certainly not, but I would try not to kill the bully.
I do not say you would but what would you do?
- I should try and stop him peaceably.
But supposing you could not do it peaceably, and suppose he was kicking the woman in the street, would you say, "Don't do that." And if he kept on; what then?
- I should interpose between them, and if necessary take the kicks upon myself.
Supposing he kicked you about the street, would you let him kill you?
- No, but I should not injure him.
Councillor Schofield : It is the most remarkable statement I have heard in my life.
Mr. Jackson : In one of your replies you say you do not object to any service so long as you do not injure other people?
- That is so.
Mr. Jackson : - Are you willing to undertake hospital work?
- Yes, and would regard it as a pleasure providing there is nothing in that service contrary to Christian doctrine.

Applicant said he had not appealed on the ground of cowardice, but he did not want to injure. He did not care what service he did, even at great risk to himself, if he did not injure any other man.

Captain Almond : If you go into the RAMC that would suit your purpose?
- Yes, subject to the oath being all right.
Would you undertake hospital work?
- with pleasure. I am not aware that the Good Samaritan ever asked how the wounded man came by his injuries.

Placed to non-combatant service with the RAMC.

Anthony Spencer, (29), 38, Siddall Street, fruit grocer's assistant, employed by the Oldham Industrial Co-operative Society, appealed for absolute exemption on the deep religious convictions that war was against the teaching of Christ and was a denial of the fatherhood of God and the brotherhood of man. He believed human life sacred under all circumstances. Human life, as such, he felt compelled his respect, and he would not violate it. Seeing that non-combatant service was only an aid to combatant service [being] only a branch of military service. He was prepared to do any work which he considered of service to the people - fruit farming or market garden work.

Questioned by the members of the Tribunal Spencer said that he had held those views for twelve years. He was a member of the No-Conscription Fellowship. He had taught in the Sunday Schools against war.

Councillor Schofield : Did you ever teach that it was wrong to do ambulance work?
- I taught them to obey their conscience.
Did you ever teach that it was wrong to do ambulance work?
- No, I have taught that it was wrong to do any military duty.

My suggestion is that this objection to ambulance work has arisen during the past eighteen months.

Sent to non-combatant service.

Ernest Butterworth (35), joiner-minder employed by Messrs. Bagley and Wright, appealed for exemption. He wrote that he was a member of the International Bible Students Association. An aider and abettor of crime was considered equally responsible to God and man.
He was not qualified for any kind of work except that stated. It had not been his privilege to enjoy qualifying for any other. The work he is engaged on is in the certified reserved occupation. Replying to questions the applicant said he was not prepared to forego his claim on conscience grounds.

The Mayor said that so long as the Government kept him in a reserved trade, what did it matter about conscience?
- It does. I put conscience above everything else.

Conditional exemption as being in a reserved trade.

Harold Ogden (30), 5, Green lane, Oldham, is a master baker and confectioner. he wrote he was an anti-militarist, and he objected to service on business grounds. He was in a starred and reserved trade, and the business was entirely dependent on his supervision. He had a wife and three children dependent upon him.

The man came into the room smoking and with his cap on. Councillor Schofield suggested that it would be better if he stopped smoking and showed some respect to the Tribunal.

Ogden replied that he did not know he was doing anything wrong. He saw members of the Tribunal smoking.

Councillor Schofield (with heat) : But have some respect man.

Whilst Ogden was being questioned it was noticed that his left hand was deformed and Captain Almond said he would not be taken.

Councillor Schofield : I have just been reading a case where a man with one arm came holding up his conscience when he knew he would be turned down.
Ogden: But I see in the paper ...
Councillor Schofield : Never mind about the papers. You should know what is right between man and man. It is shameful to come here to parade your conscience.
Ogden : I don't do. I did not want to be disrespectful.

Granted on grounds of physical disability. The conscience claim was disallowed.

Councillor Schofield : It is shameful coming and taking up the Tribunal's time like this.

John Farmer (37), 220, Manchester Road, Oldham, a market draper, with one employee who assisted to run 13 stalls in different markets, wrote that he had never known force used as an argument against him to prove that he was wrong. He believed that the war ought to be settled on amicable lines, without having rancour afterwards. He said he did not plead business but conscientious objection.
He did not belong to a religious body on account of the attitude of one church, of which he was a trustee, towards the war. He joined the No-Conscription Fellowship a short time ago to show his appreciation of the lads who had suffered for conscience sake. He did not object to hospital work if allowed his individuality. he could not accept any form of military service whatever. He believed with Shakespeare that if a man was faithful to himself it followed as night follows day he could not be false to any man.

Sent to Non-combatant Corps.

Fred Parker (29), 43, London Road, an overlooker employed by Messrs. Richard Shiers Bros., Ltd., Newbreck Mills, Waterhead, appealed for exemption because he could not undertake military service or assist in any way to organise the war, because he was against war, in which it was necessary to take human life, which was to him most sacred. We ought to be preserving, not destroying it. It was with a deep sense sense of moral conviction that he had taken his stand against war as against the principles of the Prince of Peace. If the service was non-combatant it could not be got away from war.

The Mayor : Will it do if the Tribunal put you in a reserved trade and waive your conscientious objection until the time the trade is taken off?
- Yes, if you will give me the privilege of stating my conscientious objection at that time.

Put in a reserved trade.


1 IBSA ... The Internationsal Bible Students Association

Transcript by Sheila Goodyear

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