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advsmt

Pte. William May Non Combatant Corps

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headgardener

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.

Many thanks - I appreciate the detailed response.

As an aside, I'm aware that the printed FAU Roll of Honour includes the names of men who had died after leaving the unit, but I know of one man whose name doesn't appear on the list (although it's arguable whether his death bore any relationship to his service with the FAU). His name was John Grandison MILLAR, he was a CO who was granted an exemption subject to him agreeing to join the Unit, and he died following an operation a couple of months after leaving the FAU. Let me know if you think the people compiling the list would be interested in any further details.

Edit: I've just remembered that I know of a 2nd former FAU member who died in the UK in, I think, 1918 but who isn't on the FAU RoH. I'm struggling to remember his name, though. David something, I think. Hay, maybe...? I certainly have it written down somewhere. Not sure whether he was a CO, though.

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Magnumbellum

Thanks for these further comments. With regard to the question of the extent to which CO deaths were attributable to the war, it has to be acknowledged that a number of the deaths arose from the European-wide influenza epidemic of 1918, influenza sometimes turning into pneumonia, as recorded on death certificates. For such COs on the books of the NCC, and, in France, of the FAU or of the Friends' War Victims Relief Service, the CWGC accepted responsibility, in the sense of providing a War Grave and now a permanent commemoration on their website. As against possible argument that such deaths were not properly war deaths, and might well have occurred irrespective of any connection with the war, two counter-points may be made: (1) that propensity to influenza/pneumonia might well have been exacerbated by the conditions under which the men served or were held; (2) that a number of the deaths recorded for ordinary soldiers, volunteers or conscripts, arose from influenza or like causes, and CWGC was fair and impartial in treating all alike in death.

For practical purposes the CO deaths list is adopting the same cut-off point as the CWGC, 31 August !921, and information on John Millar and the other man, if he can be traced, would be welcome.

Incidentally, also for practical purposes, virtually all members of the FAU are deemed to have been COs. Those who volunteered prior to conscription were given 'blanket recognition' as COs on the introduction of conscription in 1916. Those who volunteered from 1916 necessarily had to obtain formal consent from their Local Military Service Tribunals. There were two FAU deaths in 1915, so technically the men were never COs, but the view has been taken that their volunteering for the FAU was a conscious distinction from military enlistment, and the men were in spirit COs, if not strictly according to the letter. It is theoretically possible that a few men might have volunteered for the FAU when over conscription age so would not need to be COs, but a case has not so far been identified. (For the record, there was one such case in WW2: Gerald Gardiner volunteered for the FAU, having missed conscription by a couple of months and feeling a sense of moral obligation. His distinguished service in the FAU is now little remembered, but he became better known as a leading QC and Lord Chancellor, 1964-70.)

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Magnumbellum

I've just remembered that I know of a 2nd former FAU member who died in the UK in, I think, 1918 but who isn't on the FAU RoH. I'm struggling to remember his name, though. David something, I think. Hay, maybe...? I certainly have it written down somewhere. Not sure whether he was a CO, though.

I wonder whether you are thinking of David H Meek. Any information you have would be most welcome.

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headgardener

I wonder whether you are thinking of David H Meek. Any information you have would be most welcome.

Yes, that's him....! I remember looking at his service papers at the Society of Friends archives, have the details somewhere. I seem to recall that He died in 1918, shortly after leaving the FAU.

Will get back to you.

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advsmt

Hi,

I got my hard copy from Cyril Pearce's CO database today. It consisted of the facts held on William May and it is this whole database which will go live on the IWM site. The extract came with a comprehensive interpretation guide. The material confirms everything that we have talked about but backs it up with reference to the source documents. For instance it has the tribunals, Arbroath and the Central Tribunal at Barlinnie CP dated 31.8.16 (No W.1110) at which he was graded as Class A - genuine. It looks like NAS holds the tribunal minutes for both Arbroath and Barlinnie. Cyril does point out that the database is still a work very much in grogress but it appears comprehensive. Cyril has gone out of his way to be exceptionally helpful and gracious with his time.

Bryan

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Neill Gilhooley

An old topic this, I know, but a poignant subject. William May moved in with his uncle, an elder of the International Bible Students Association. It seems many in the family were conscientious objectors, including his cousin, also William May. 

1. William May born 8.8.1892 at Hillside, Montrose to Wm May (ploughman) and Eliza Grace May (Low), 4 years 9th Royal Scots, 1725 NCC [it does state in his service record discharged on demobilisation 31 March 1920 but perhaps the record keeper went through all the files]. His younger brother Alexander, Black Watch, died as a prisoner of war from a fractured clavicle at Cambrai in March 1918.  Further info on William May https://neillgilhooley.com/9th-royal-scots/index/

2. William May born 9.9.1889 [cousin of the above] at Hawick to George May (house painter and Elder of IBSA) and Helen Johnstone May (Davidson), his tribunal records survive on ScotlandsPeople. Both cousins were at 37 Forrest Rd under Geo May at the time of the 1911 Census.

 

The subject of this thread, William May (b.1892) was working for Messrs Robert Rough & Sons at the Cawburn Chemical Works at Uphall, West Lothian in 1918, residing at Park Vale Cottage, Uphall. At the end of October 1918, Joseph King MP asked questions in the House of Commons about the severe conditions the COs were living under at Uphall. Such an intervention did not help May however, as he had been killed at the beginning of the month. Early on 2nd October 1918 May, aged 26, had been shovelling animal bones into railway wagons when the manager told them to shunt the wagons down the incline.

20180224_104604_001.jpg.5640ca9c88dd89c43001b3dc7af8012d.jpg Map.jpg.3e0cf987baf76f7a1915b0c006d0d8b0.jpg

Probably not the correct type of wagon, but an example brake lever at Swansea Waterfront Museum. OS map published 1916

 

Two witnesses were called to the inquiry, John Brown, manager, represented the owners. Alexander Allardyce, a grocer aged 35, was another CO referred to as a labourer, who stated 'The works are largely just now worked by men sent from the Home Office as conscientious objectors.' The factory is described as running east-west with a sort of railway platform along at least half the length to the south [sic] side, with a company owned set of tracks alongside coming to a dead end in the east, and the Edinburgh railway adjacent.

Allardyce released the brakes on two wagons and let them roll east on a gradient of 1 in 80. There was a wagon already at the east end, and only later was William May found to be crushed between a door hanging open on this wagon and an iron upright attached to the platform. It was realised May had squeezed between the wagon and the platform to release the brake. All wagons since 1911 had to have brake levers on both sides and older rolling stock was to be updated, but had not in this case. There was 27 inches of space between the wagon and platform, the iron post sticking out 3.5 inches, and the hanging door making it a 'veritable death trap' in the view of Brown. 

William May remained true to his principles unto death.

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Neill Gilhooley

I am left wondering about Alexander Allardyce.

In the 1901 Census is a 17 yo apprentice grocer from Tarves. From the military records there is a YMCA MIC but with a first date to France of 12.3.18, so seems unlikely.

On ScotlandsPeople Military Tribunals there is Alexander Allardyce, grocer and provision merchant, CO, appeal dates 19.1.17 and 30.3.17. Not to be called up until 19.4.17. Letter from Central Tribunal 10.8.17 to state he had been court martialled and imprisoned.

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