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advsmt

Pte. William May Non Combatant Corps

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advsmt

Hi,

I found a relative, William May born 1893 in Kincardineshire, whose service record puts him in the 2nd Scottish Coy, Non Combatant Corps, Ser. 1725. I am not sure that I fully understand his record. It appears that he was conscripted into the NCC in 1916 then refused orders within days. A DCM sentenced him to 112 days in Barlinnie Prision. A tribunal in Arbroath granted his exemption and he was released after about 3 months onto the Class W Army Reserve. I thought most COs went to the NCC to avoid combat service not refuse orders when in the NCC?

Also his Record of Service he states that he previously served 4 years in the 9th Royal Scots but I can find no reference to this anywhere.

Any help would be gratefully received.

Bryan

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Willywombat

Having looked up his service record, I'll tell you what it seems like to me...

To put it bluntly (and I don't mean to be in any way derogatory about your relative!), I think he was basically an awkward Bu$$er! You'll see, for starters, that he refused to be medically examined on enlistment. That doesn't tie in with the attitude of many COs who, whilst not wishing to engage in fighting on perfectly reasonable moral/religious grounds, were still willing to 'do their bit' and many of them served very courageously as stretcher bearers and the like. Indeed, I take my hat off to them!

He's previously served in the army. That will have had to have been voluntarily (no conscription prior to WW1), so at that stage he (presumably) wasn't adverse to the possibility of having to kill someone! Even if he was forced to enlist through personal circumstances, poverty etc. he still didn't entirely discount the military as an occupation on moral grounds, so his moral conviction not to fight can't have been overwhelmingly strong at that particular time.

Since then he's had a change of heart. Now, that could be because he has had a religious conversion and his new faith requires that he doesn't involve himself in combat. On the other hand, it could simply be that he didn't enjoy his previous time with the Colours, left the army with bad feeling and swore never to have anything to do with them ever again! His non-co-operation (both in refusing the medical and disobeying orders) seems, to me at least as an 'outside observer', to suggest the latter.

(Again, please don't take this the wrong way!) Perhaps the army simply chucked him out in the end as being more trouble than he was worth?

I hope I've explained my take on it without upsetting you too much!

Bob.

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advsmt

Hi Bob,

no worries about being blunt! I think I tend to agree with you, especially refusing to be medically examined. That would certainly put peoples backs up. It is a pity I could not find his RS service record as that would cast some light on his attitude and competance as a soldier. I could not find a MIC either. But from what I have read the CO tribunals were extremely difficult to convince therefore you think that a "poor" soldier would be unsuccessful in his appeal? Does anyone know if the tribunal would have his service record as I believe the military played no part in the tribunal? It also makes you wonder why they put him straight into the NCC from call up? Was this a throughback to his previous service? I guess I will never know,

thanks again

Bryan

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Willywombat

Bryan,

There won't be a medal index card if he didn't serve overseas!

I really don't know enough about COs and the tribunal procedures to be able to comment on your other questions, I'm afraid. Hopefully someone with more knowledge than me might be able to take this further?

If it helps, it may well be that there are newspaper reports regarding the tribunal and/or the imprisonment? I have had a quick trawl through an online newspaper archive and not found anything, but that doesn't mean there's nothing on record - not all newspapers are archived on the site. Perhaps you may need to do some further research? I also know that records of tribunals exist in my local archives, so it may be that they still exist for Arbroath?

Bob.

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Willywombat

By doing a Google search, I found the following:

http://undergroundhistories.wordpress.com/the-white-feather-the-first-great-imperialist-war/

Scroll down to the paragraph that contains a cartoon entitled "Wormwood Snubs" and you will find the following (the author is talking about his relative and then mentions a William May)...

"However, by the time of his demobilisation on 31 March 1920 we know that he was at a camp at Uphall in West Lothian. Uphall was the centre of an extensive oil shale extraction and processing industry, a bleak village dominated by spoil heaps and railway lines. The shale was both mined and quarried, which fits in with the family story of Gt Grandad’s sojourn in Scotland. However, we don’t know exactly what he was doing. Only one other named CO is recorded working there, William May a 26 year old Scottish International Bible Student (‘Jehovah’s Witness’) and No-Conscription Fellowship member who had been through Barlinnie prison, the Wakefield Prison Work Centre and Broxburn Work Camp, before arriving at Uphall. In October 1918 he was fatally crushed by a railway wagon while working alongside other COs for a firm called Messrs Rough.

Is is the same chap?

The following website may also be of interest:

http://www.ppu.org.uk/coproject/coprojectindex.html

His name appears on that site in a list of men who died (presumably the railway wagon incident referred-to above). IF this is the same chap, you may have a lead there for further research?

Bob.

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advsmt

Wow, that sounds really promising and a great find. I am not 100% sure that is him but it could well be. I thought his NCC record had him discharged at the end of 1916? But I will check when I get back to my records.

Thank again

Bryan

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Willywombat

Bryan,

I'm no expert in the area of COs, but it looks to me as though perhaps they were still forced to work for the war effort even after being discharged from the army? In WW2 you had the Bevin Boys who still had to work in the mines despite not being in the military at all, so perhaps it's a similar sort of set up?

I think it is him. There can't have been that many men by the name of William May imprisoned at Barlinnie for being a CO!!

I hope someone with more knowledge than me can tell us. I'm well out of my area of expertise on all this!

Bob.

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advsmt

Hi,

yes he is my man. I looked up his death cert on Scotlandspeople, but what threw me was his mothers name as i did not recognise it. But his father had remarried so after further checking it is definately him.

Will do further checking.

Thanks

Bryan

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headgardener

I thought most COs went to the NCC to avoid combat service not refuse orders when in the NCC?

I think this is a very interesting case for a number of reasons. And I'm pretty certain that the man mentioned by Willywombat in post #5 is the same man. There are several points that I think are worth making - unfortunately I'm at work atm, so I may have to break off and come back again later.

Firstly, you're wrong to think that members of the Non-Combatant Corps enlisted in the NCC in order to avoid military service - they were conscripts. They were called up in the normal way then, when they declared themselves to be CO's, they were deemed by default to have enlisted in the NCC. As you can imagine, this was a very controversial position for the authorities to adopt, particularly because consciption itself was seen by many (not just by CO's) as being unconstitutional. This was only ever likely to raise the hackles of the average CO, of which there were 2 types; the 'Alternativists' and the 'Absolutists'. The Alternativists were prepared to consider an alternative to military service (such as nursing or driving an ambulance), while the absolutists refused to do any job that could be seen as a contribution to the war effort (i.e. by driving a military ambulance they were helping the army to function more efficiently and their effort might facilitate the army sending another man - who might otherwise be driving that ambulance - to the front). I'm going to suggest that William's actions were in keeping with those of an 'Absolutist' (and, in fact, many 'Alternativists, too), and of a large number of other NCC men.

The NCC was run as an army unit - it was commanded by army officers, the men wore army uniform, and did military drill. By all accounts, the military men were not very sympathetic to the CO's serving in their ranks and failed to conceal their disapproval of the CO's stance. So the army was really asking for trouble by attempting to force these men to work in such a clearly military organization.

Also, the initial understanding was that the military would treat the NCC with respect and only oblige them to serve in the UK in largely 'civilian' functions. They then tried to ship an NCC contingent to France to work at the channel ports, and this step resulted in a near mutiny which led to about 50 NCC men being courts martialled. I wonder whether William was one of them, or whether he was taking part in a larger protest within the NCC ranks at the army's attitude towards them.

Work beckons, More later.....

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headgardener

Back again.....

yes he is my man. I looked up his death cert on Scotlandspeople, but what threw me was his mothers name as i did not recognise it. But his father had remarried so after further checking it is definately him.

Bingo...!

Having thought about it since my last post, I doubt William would have been one of the contingent that were earmarked for France; his unwillingness to comply with military orders was evident right from the start. I wonder, though, whether he was being conscripted into the NCC right around the time of this incident or shortly after. If so, it's reasonable to imagine that he might have been part of a campaign of disobedience from NCC men (including the new conscripts - it's very likely that CO organizations and newsletters would have been spreading the word). It might be interesting to look at the papers of other NCC men who enlisted around the same time.

The British military had always relied on voluntary recruits (some 18th Century Navy press-gangs notwithstanding.....!), and the introduction of conscription was treated with suspicion by many British citizens, perhaps doubly so in the case of CO's. Interestingly, a number of men in the Friend's Ambulance Unit (a volunteer organization who had been serving in France since 1914, and a number of whose members had been killed or had died) resigned in protest at the introduction of conscription - so this issue was clearly of relevance to CO's (both Alternativists and Absolutists).

The fact that William had previous military service is interesting. I'm pretty sure that the 9th R. Scots was a TF unit - perhaps someone on here can advise further. Remember that as a TF man he had signed up to protect the UK in the event of an invasion. The fact that William did so would not necessarily mean that he was prepared to fight under any circumstance. This would be borne out by the fact that a reasonable number of pre-war TF men appear to have refused to sign the Imperial Service Obligation in 1914 (and were therefore not prepared to travel overseas to fight). Remember also that William would have joined the TF in his late teens, so there was still plenty of time for his views on the world to develop, change or deepen. It's hard to know from the sound of the report posted by Willywombat in post #5 whether William was a student (in the way that we would understand the word - perhaps with a view to working for the 7th Day Adventists Church) or whether he was literally devoting his life to studying the Bible. Either way, I suspect that he was very serious about his beliefs. Serious enough that he was prepared to stick to his beliefs knowing that he would be forced to endure the hardships of Barlinnie prison (which one of my uncles worked in during the 1970's, and which he described as pretty hellish even then) and the disapproval of the authorities, and of many of his peers (and possibly friends and family).

Regarding his period of service within the TF (or, depending on exactly when he joined, it might have even been the Militia or Volunteers), his period of service would almost certainly have come to an end before WW1. I don't think papers for pre-war volunteer servicemen have survived. I know that FMP have a series of papers for, I think, some militia units. You could try looking in the series of pre-war service papers, but I'm certain that they just cover regular enlistments. It might also be worth checking the WW1 service papers again, just in case they're filed somewhere alongside his NCC docs.

There will almost certainly be details of him in local newspapers (possibly even national papers, too), and perhaps from the 7th Day Adventists themselves assuming that they have a central archive - I imagine that they will have organized a 'comforts fund' for their co-religionist CO's.

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Willywombat

Excellent!

Thanks for contributing. As I'm sure you could see, I was struggling to be able to help Bryan any further - COs are out of my realm of expertise!

The author of the website I quoted has obviously gleaned some pretty precise info from somewhere (the circumstances of death, work camps William had been in etc.). I reckon a message to him might prove very worthwhile.

However, like Bryan, I'm still a bit confused with the 'discharged in 1916 but then still at a work camp in 1918' thing.

How did that work? Presumably, the army threw him out having got nowhere with him, but under conscription legislation he was still obliged to serve his country in some capacity? Is that correct?

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advsmt

Thanks for the above, all very interesting and inspiring reading. An interesting aside is that William was born and raised about Montrose in the NE of Scotland. The local TF forces were the Black Watch and RFA - I have numerous relatives in both. The RS are a Lothians unit which is well South, but you are right the 9th is a TF unit. Another aside is that I do have other relations in the 9th RS in WW1 but they would not have known each other.

Everything that has been mentioned does fit with his NCC service record. I did get this from FMP and his RS service is not part of this document. Indeed all my other (4) RS relatives service docs do not survive either. Unfortunately FMP only have Aberdeen and Dundee local papers so I need to get my brother to try the county archives. Big problem searching newspapers on-line with a name like "may"! I also have "Carrie" and "Dear" names!

Considering his rural and uneducated background he must have been a very strong character.

Thanks again.

Bryan

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advsmt

Hi Willywombat my post was out of sync with yours. I think he was discharged from the NCC in 1916, as we know, and being put onto Class W Reserve is what put him to Uphall. This seems to correspond with the links you kindly added. His death certificate has an added note on the side that I am trying to decipher. I will look later when my grandson departs!

Bryan

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Willywombat

Bryan,

Yes, I see - the 'W' Reseve thing answers my question: ‘for all those soldiers whose services are deemed to be more valuable to the country in civil rather than military employment’.

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headgardener

Everything that has been mentioned does fit with his NCC service record. I did get this from FMP and his RS service is not part of this document. Indeed all my other (4) RS relatives service docs do not survive either.

Regarding servicemen's documents - I've come across cases in which the serviceman had 2 periods of service, the 2 separate sets of service papers were clearly stored together, but when someone came round to scanning them they simply looked at the different service number and regiment on each set of docs and simply indexed them separately as though they belonged to different individuals. So, I'd say it's always worth quickly checking that there isn't a separate set of papers - indexed separately - for the same man, especially when you know that there were 2 periods of service (as is the case with William May).

Bryan,

Yes, I see - the 'W' Reseve thing answers my question: ‘for all those soldiers whose services are deemed to be more valuable to the country in civil rather than military employment’.

I was going to comment on the 'W' Reserve aspect of this case - the man wasn't strictly being discharged back into civilian life, he was being directed to work in a different sphere, outside direct military control but still under overall control of the authorities. It remained a form of conscripted service, just a form of service that the man in question would have least chance of successfully objecting to. I think that it was almost always hard labour, and while there was a practical value to their work I suspect that there was also some punitive element to it - many of the tasks they were charged with were not dissimilar to hard labour in a prison (quarrying, etc). I believe that the authorities didn't have much time for CO's and wanted (a) not to be seen to give them a 'soft-option', and (b ) to actively give them a hard time so as to discourage those potential CO's that might come after them.

When we look at contemporary attitudes to the war, a strong value was placed on 'endurance' (i.e. the ability of an individual to withstand or tolerate certain situations). Something which appears to have emerged following the war was an appreciation of people who said 'No', or who refused to endure or tolerate certain conditions or situations (just look at the ongoing interest in servicemen who were executed during WW1, for example). I know that's a potential minefield and I don't want to start a debate on it, I'm just trying to point out that the experiences of many servicemen during WW1 led them to adopt attitudes and values similar to those espoused by men like William May. He must have been, in his own way, a very courageous and principled man. His story is as relevant to the commemoration of WW1 as is the story of any of the servicemen that we discuss on this forum. I hope that you may feel able to be as proud of him as you are of any of your other WW1 relatives.

I'd certainly be interested to hear any other details that you uncover about him.

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Magnumbellum

Hi Bob,

no worries about being blunt! I think I tend to agree with you, especially refusing to be medically examined. That would certainly put peoples backs up. It is a pity I could not find his RS service record as that would cast some light on his attitude and competance as a soldier. I could not find a MIC either. But from what I have read the CO tribunals were extremely difficult to convince therefore you think that a "poor" soldier would be unsuccessful in his appeal? Does anyone know if the tribunal would have his service record as I believe the military played no part in the tribunal? It also makes you wonder why they put him straight into the NCC from call up? Was this a throughback to his previous service? I guess I will never know,

thanks again

Bryan

Being "blunt" about William May does not help elucidating the facts. The first generally available mention of him as a conscientious objector (there was earlier information within the CO movement) was in John W Graham's Conscription and Conscience, 1922, where he was included in a list of "the men who died under imprisonment, before or after release - one among many rolls of honour of the war". In 1923 his name was carved with 69 others on the CO Memorial Plaque, registered in the national inventory of war memorials. He is also mentioned in David Boulton's Objection Overruled, 1967, and 2nd ed, 2014,

I know nothing of William's earlier sojourn in the Army, why he joined, his record, and how he left; that is a matter for military historians. What is clear is that some time after he left the Army he underwent a conversion experience and became an International Bible Student, as the members of the International Bible Students Association (IBSA) called themselves, a body which from 1930 adopted the name Jehovah's Witnesses. "Student" referred to regular reading of and attention to the Bible, but did not imply formal full-time academic study, and it may have been confusion over that aspect that led to the change of name. IBSA or Jehovah's Witnesses have no connection, formal or informal, with Seventh Day Adventists, as speculated by Headgardener, although there were Seventh Day Adventist COs.

With the imposition of conscription in 1916, William exercised the right included in the Military Service Act of applying for exemption as a Conscientious Objector. The Military Service Tribunal recognised him as a conscientious objector, but exempted him only from combatant military service, so that, instead of being able to do useful civilian work under civilian control, he was forcibly enlisted in the Non-Combatant Corps, not merely "run as an Army unit", as Headgardener has put it - it was an Army unit, subject in every particular to Army requirements save that the men were guaranteed not to be required to handle or use weapons or ammunition. It was created speifically and solely for conscientious objectors, on the assumption that most COs would accept enlistment into it, but without realising that, in the event, only a limited number would, with varying degrees of reluctance, accept such an obvious compromise. The alternatives of absolute exemption or exemption conditional upon performing civilian work of national importance were provided in the Act as available to Tribunals, but many arrogated to themselves the claim of knowing a man's conscience better than he knew it himsel,f and insisted upon direction to non-combatant military service. Whether it was consciously in the minds of Tribunal members to sabotage Army administration by clogging it up with unwilling conscripts is open to speculation, but their decisions certainly had that effect, with some 6000 COs being sent to prison by court-martial for disobedience, many after being returned to the Army on release and being court-martialled again.

Returning to William's case, and the question whether his Tribunal members knew of his previous military service, it is possible that they did, because, although the Tribunal's were essentially civilian, the Act gave the Army the right to have a Military Representative present to contest every application, arguing the need for cannon-fodder against every other interest including conscience. Be that as it may, it is not at all surprising that William, having been arrested by the civilian police and formally handed over by a Sheriff's court to the Army, began to disobey orders, including submitting to a medical, as obedience would indicate his acceptance of being a cog in the war machine - a direct contradiction of his conscience. The problem was not of his making, but of the state's in giving the Tribunal power to rule in such a way.

The rest of William's sad story has been summarised in this thread, save for clarification of a particular aspect. The clogging up not only of Army administration but the prisons by 6000 COs caused a scandal in the press and Parliament, leading to what was known as the Home Office Scheme, whereby all "soldiers" in prison for military offences claimed to have been committed on grounds of conscience were interviewed by the Central Tribunal, empowered to find them "genuine", after all, and offer them the opportunity to do civilian work under civilian control in specially created Work Centres or Work Camps, under the supervision of a committee chaired by William Brace MP.(known as the Brace Committee - this was completely separate from Work of National Importance, designated in the Military Service Act as an option for Tribunals to offer and administered by the Pelham Committee - there has been confusion between the two). The Army, for its part, was unwilling to let go entirely of its clutches on such notoriously unwilling conscripts, so the deal was that the men accepting the Scheme would be formally transferred to the Class W Reserve, but NOT discharged from the Army. On the Scheme, they wore civilan clothes and behaved in every respect as civilians, but if deemed to have breached some minor regulation of the Scheme, they could be - and some were - returned to the Army, for the cycle of disobedience, court-martial, imprisonment, to recommence.

Wiiliiam did not survive to be part of the end of the WW1 CO story, but it was essentially wound up in April 1919, when most CO prisoners remaining in prison were released (a few more recently sentenced were held until August 1919). The Home Office Scheme was also abolished in April 1919, and the Centres and Camps cleared.

For this reason, the linked account of William's Work Camp at Uphall supposedly surviving until 31 March 1920 does not make sense. It appears that the compiler of the account has discovered his great grandfather's Army discharge paper citing 31 March 1920, and has mistakenly deemed that to be evidence for the CO being "demobilised" from some activity, which, by default, he has deemed to be residence and work at Uphall. In fact, as I have stated, the procedure was for COs admitted to the Home Office Scheme to be transferred to Army Reserve Class W, where, if they were not deemed to have breached any rules, they remained until the Army conducted a major clearing up exercise in 1920 by posting standard discharge papers to all the Army Reserve Class W men on their books. So the great grandfather's paper was simply a formal discharge paper from the Army, not "demobilisation" from any activity. A matter for light relief in an essentially sad thread is that such discharge papers carried a red overprint diagonally across the page warning the recipient that any attempt to re-enlist in either the Army or the Navy without disclosure of the service recorded on the paper would render the offender liable to condign punishment.

With respect to questions about the trustworthiness of someone making a major change in a moral/political stance, I would simply draw attention to the two principal Prime Ministers in the two Word Wars. David Lloyd George vehemently opposed British participation in the Boer War; he avidly relished being Minister of Munitions,War Minister and finally PM in WW!. Winston Churchill began as a Conservative, changed to being a leading Liberal including Home Secretary, and then reverted to being a Conservative Chancellor of the Exchequer and finally PM. If they could do it, why not William May?

Finally, William died, albeit accidentally, in his stance as a conscientious objector, despite being officially on the books as a soldier in the Army Reserve. There is no court that can now legally overturn that status, but we are free to choose whether we support him or the Army. All the CO literature knows him as simply William May. Was the heading of this thread with "Pte" rather than "Conscientious Objector" intended to demonstrate that after almost a century the state and the Army have prevailed and his personal sacrifice was ultimately in vain?

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advsmt

I have to say that you have made some very interesting points which make sobering reading. Until a few days ago I knew nothing of William or COs other than a sketchy overview. I know the bare facts about William as laid out in official documents including his death certificate. I have made contact with other organisations and researchers on this subject, however, what is clear is that he stood and died by his principles in what was a short and troubled life. The Great War cast a shadow that was felt on every family at that time and beyond and I am sure that he would have been deeply mortified by the title of Pte.

Thank you for your thoughts and clear elucidation of the facts

Bryan

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Willywombat

Thanks for that detailed explanation. I, for one, have learned a lot about the procedures - something I didn't really know about before. I tried to help Bryan as much as my limited knowledge would allow, but it needed someone like yourself with extensive knowledge to fill in the gaps!

It seems to me like a pretty sensible scheme they came up in the end with to deal with the problem.

6000 isn't a huge number in the grand scheme of things, but it certainly would clog up the prison system and take up places that would be better filled with criminals.

If someone doesn't want to co-operate with their conscription (and puts their foot down to the extent of refusing even to have a medical!) there's little the army can really do with them, so keeping them out of uniform and giving them civilian work to do was the best thing, really in the long run. I expect most of them simply got on with it and the problem seems to have been largely solved in the end - and at least they're doing something useful.

The best bet to take it further will probably be to contact the person who set up the website I referred-to. He's obviously got access to further info about William May's time in the various work camps. I'm pretty sure the tribunal records will still exist at the local archives, even if it's only a one-liner giving the result of his case. I daresay there will be something in the newspapers about his death as well.

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headgardener

Thank you for what is probably the best explanation of the NCC that I've read, and perhaps the most concise and detailed explanation of the processes that the CO's were subjected to by the authorities. It's the quality of posts such as this that makes GWF such a valuable resource.

And I have NO idea why I wrote 'Seventh Day Adventist' when the article clearly says that he was a 'Jehovah's Witness'.......

Finally, William died, albeit accidentally, in his stance as a conscientious objector, despite being officially on the books as a soldier in the Army Reserve. There is no court that can now legally overturn that status, but we are free to choose whether we support him or the Army. All the CO literature knows him as simply William May. Was the heading of this thread with "Pte" rather than "Conscientious Objector" intended to demonstrate that after almost a century the state and the Army have prevailed and his personal sacrifice was ultimately in vain?

An interesting point. William's stance clearly shows that his conscience prevailed over any labels attached to him by the authorities, regardless of any legacy created by this historical 'paper-trail'. William's stance commands far greater respect than that afforded to any of the men who devised or operated the system that persecuted him.

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Magnumbellum

Thanks, Bryan, Willywombat and Headgardener, for your thanks. Glad to have been of some help. I first came across William May over forty years ago, and began looking in greater depth about twenty-five years ago.

Regarding records, however, I must point out that in 1921 most of the official Tribunal casepapers were destroyed, as serving no further purpose than allowing researchers to study the way the system worked, for which the Middlesex records were retained as a sample in the National Archives and the Lothian & Peebles records as a sample in the National Archives of Scotland. In some places Tribunal minute books have survived, sometimes giving brief mentions of some cases.

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Willywombat

Regarding records, however, I must point out that in 1921 most of the official Tribunal casepapers were destroyed, as serving no further purpose than allowing researchers to study the way the system worked, for which the Middlesex records were retained as a sample in the National Archives and the Lothian & Peebles records as a sample in the National Archives of Scotland. In some places Tribunal minute books have survived, sometimes giving brief mentions of some cases.

I believe they are what exist in Gloucestershire Archives, for example. As you say - no detail, but just one-liner lists of cases in bound books with (basically) the date, name, and finding.

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advsmt

Thank you all, I can only echo headgardeners words, this forum always delivers quality, balance and thoroughness. I have made contact with the individuals who wrote the articles linked in this thread and Cyril Pearce, author of Comrades in Conscience is kindly going to send me his data sheet on William.

Thanks again

Bryan

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headgardener

Thanks, Bryan, Willywombat and Headgardener, for your thanks. Glad to have been of some help. I first came across William May over forty years ago, and began looking in greater depth about twenty-five years ago.

Regarding records, however, I must point out that in 1921 most of the official Tribunal casepapers were destroyed, as serving no further purpose than allowing researchers to study the way the system worked, for which the Middlesex records were retained as a sample in the National Archives and the Lothian & Peebles records as a sample in the National Archives of Scotland. In some places Tribunal minute books have survived, sometimes giving brief mentions of some cases.

I hope you won't mind me asking a couple of questions arising from William's case....?

Do you when the NCC was wound up? I was wondering whether it managed to last until the end of the war......

Is there a formal WW1 British CO 'roll of honour', or similar? In which case, how many men are commemorated, or how many are estimated to have died during the war?

Do you think there are any resources that would have a photo of William?

Apologies to Bryan for hijacking the thread.....!

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advsmt

Hi sorry to hijack as well, but I know that Cyril Pearce, from my previous post, has a CO database which is due to go on-line with the IWM soon. The IBSA have their own list but I think Cyril's will cover all known COs.

Bryan

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Magnumbellum

I hope you won't mind me asking a couple of questions arising from William's case....?

Do you when the NCC was wound up? I was wondering whether it managed to last until the end of the war......

Is there a formal WW1 British CO 'roll of honour', or similar? In which case, how many men are commemorated, or how many are estimated to have died during the war?

Do you think there are any resources that would have a photo of William?

Apologies to Bryan for hijacking the thread.....!

Perhaps I should say a further word about the NCC. Because of William May's position, this thread has concentrated on the COs who resisted allocation to it. There were COs who, with varying degrees of reluctance, accepted call-up to it; a significant number also accepted posting to France, where they carried out duties behind the lines - these, of course, were quite distinct from the 42 resisting COs shipped to France in 1916, 35 of whom were formally sentenced to death, after court-martial for disobedience, but the esnteces were immediately commuted to ten years penal servitude, and in 1919 were uncondonditionally released from prison.

At the end of the war serving NCC members fell due for discharge according to the same principles of length of service etc as for soldiers conscripted in the ordinary way. I am not sure exactly when the last was discharged, possibly as late as early 1920, but on discharge of the last of them, the NCC was wound up. For completeness, I would add that a new NCC was established in 1940, which continued to the end of WW2 conscription in 1963.

With regard to the COs who died, various lists were published soon after the war, one of which was the 70 names on the CO Memorial Plaque, as mentioned, and others varied slightly. Those, however, concentrated on men dying in prison, in Home Office Work Centres, or soon after discharge from either. More recently it has been realised that some serving menbers of the NCC and of the Friends Ambulance Unit, and others also died. Work is proceeding on these, and the count is likely to be more than 100.

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