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Hollie jones

civilian punishment and dessersion

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Hollie jones

A couple of months back i came across a few articles, one particular which i cant seem to find said basically that New research 
has unearthed a letter by the bishop of Exeter Lord william Cecil written to the Times. He was the son of the former Conservative

prime minister, Lord Salisbury. In the letter Cecil called for 'conchie' (imprisoned political conscientious objectors) to be moved 
to London so that the “enemies of the Commonwealth” could experience the full horror of the German bombing raids. He had

visited Dartmoor prison, where 1,100 conscientious objectors were incarcerated, a quarter of whom were objecting on religious

grounds – the bishop suggested they go free but claimed that the rest “either hated England” or regarded the conflict “as a war

of the capitalists” for which they had no inclination to fight. The letter headlined “Anarchic Dartmoor”, he expressed concerns

about the government’s decision to imprison a large number of conscientious objectors in the one location. He worried that the

conchies, as they were known, might convert the religious objectors into fellow revolutionaries. Cecil demanded the men be

moved to parts of the country “frequently visited by the enemy airplane” as dropping a bomb near them would “perhaps bring

about a sudden conversion”. Its Suprising this was uncovered really as they seem to want to hide these things. In 1921 the

Ministry of Health decided that all papers relating to individual cases of exemption from National Service and tribunal minute 
books (except those of the Central Tribunal), should be destroyed. The vast majority of such files do not survive. Records of

British conscientious objectors are varied and incomplete, especially after 1921. Those which do survive are generally just

samples of documents. There are numerous accounts by prisoners. Robert Hollie, Residing in Lincolnshire before being

incarcerated to Dartmoor for example. After checking the national archives in kew, i can only find records from Middlesex.

Its worth a mention that such records are only accessable online until 2024. The only additional mention is in the long long trial

and an article by writer John Keegan. Im curious to know if any of the deserters were treated the same as as the conchie as we

are told of only 306 soldiers who were shot dead for the act of dessersion, im guessing there were acceptions. So many of these

people were their families only hope for survival as well which makes it even more scandalous
eg

Reference:    MH 47/36/01
Description:    
Case Number: M3515.
***** Alfred of, Valetta Road, Acton. Occupation: Motor Cab Proprietor and Driver.

Grounds of Appeal:

D: On the ground that serious hardship would ensue if the man were called up for Army service, 
owing to his exceptional financial or business obligations or domestic position.

Date:    [1915-1922]
Held by:    The National Archives, Kew
Legal status:    Public Record(s)
Language:    English
Closure status:    Open Document, Open Description

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Maureene
5 hours ago, Hollie jones said:

 

Its worth a mention that such records are only accessable online until 2024. 

The actual wording in the description is ".....A project to catalogue and digitise the records in this series was completed in January 2014, ... which has allowed this collection to be made available as free downloads for a 10 year period."

http://discovery.nationalarchives.gov.uk/details/r/C10890

I would think it more probable that after the ten year period, downloads would still be available, but you would need to pay for them.

 

Cheers

Maureen

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Ron Clifton
9 hours ago, Hollie jones said:

we

are told of only 306 soldiers who were shot dead for the act of dessersion, im guessing there were acceptions. So many of these

people were their families only hope for survival as well which makes it even more scandalous

Hello Hollie

 

The 306 includes men executed for offences other than desertion (e.g. striking a superior officer), but 268 of them were for desertion.

 

These were out of a total of just over 7,000 who were court-martialled abroad for desertion. There were also over 31,000 convictions at home for desertion, and none of those men were shot. In most cases sentences were commuted to terms of imprisonment, and following the passing of the Suspension of Sentences Act, the majority were returned to continue in front-line service and given the chance to redeem themselves. In many cases the suspended sentences were remitted completely at the end of the war.

 

Ron

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Dai Bach y Sowldiwr

Hollie,

I get the impression that you are mixing up three different things here:

1) Deserters

2) Conscientious Objectors

and

3)Those seeking exemption from military service on non-conscientious grounds, who appealed to local military tribunals for deferment or postponement from being called up, because of social or financial reasons.

 

They are three unrelated issues, the management of which were also completely different

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Magnumbellum
3 hours ago, Dai Bach y Sowldiwr said:

Hollie,

I get the impression that you are mixing up three different things here:

1) Deserters

2) Conscientious Objectors

and

3)Those seeking exemption from military service on non-conscientious grounds, who appealed to local military tribunals for deferment or postponement from being called up, because of social or financial reasons.

 

They are three unrelated issues, the management of which were also completely different

 

I agree that Hollie has confused the three different issues, but the issue is further confused by reference to "Military Tribunals", which have never existed in British law, although they exist is some other countries, e.g. the USA. What existed in Britain in WW1 were Military Service Tribunals. The distinction is not merely pedantic. The term Military Tribunal means a Tribunal run by and for the military. Military Service Tribunals, created under the Military Service Act 1916, were run by local authorities (borough and district councils), comprised civilians, and adjudicated upon applications by civilians for exemption from military service.

 

Although Hollie has confused three separate issues, it seems that her main concern is conscientious objectors, and, in particular, the letter from Lord William Cecil, Bishop of Exeter published in The Times. In his letter the Bishop displayed his own misunderstanding by referring to the 1000 conscientious objectors incarcerated in ""Dartmoor Prison", In fact, Dartrmoor Prison had been closed as such, and re-opened as Princetown Work Centre,  operated under the Home Office Scheme, whereby imprisoned COs, individually interviewed by the Central Military Service Tribunal, could agree to be released from prison on condition of entering the Scheme for carrying out civilian work under civilian control. They were not "incarcerated," being free to go outside the Centre in non-working time, they wore ordinary clothing, not prison uniform, and locks were removed from doors of cells, renamed rooms.

 

Regarding the records of WW1 Military Service Tribunals generally, cases of COs amounted to less than 5 % of the total, the remainder relating to the other, non-conscientious, grounds for exemption. In 1921, the Ministry of Health, which had inherited the functions of the Local Government Board, the government department responsible for Military Service Tribunals, in answer to questions about continued storage of the thousands of documents accumulated by the local Tribunals, decided that they should all be destroyed except for the Middlesex Tribunals, transferred to the National Archives, those for Lothian & Peebles, transferred to the Scottish National Archives. In fact, some other records have survived in local archives, county record offices etc.

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Dai Bach y Sowldiwr
48 minutes ago, Magnumbellum said:

In fact, some other records have survived in local archives, county record offices etc.

Yes.

Ceredigion tribunal records survived, and are held at the National Library of Wales, Aberystwyth.

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rolt968

I don't know if anyone else heard this program this morning. About fifteen minutes in the author describes what happened to a relative who was a conscientious objector:

https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b09snb10

 

RM

 

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