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Remembered Today:

WHY WASN'T HE CALLED UP?


SMG65
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My Great Grandfather was born in 1880 therefore 34 years old when war broke out.

However he did not serve in any of the Armed Forces.

The only reason I can think of is that he had 4 children all under the age of 5 years.

He was a Painter & Decorator which I believe wasn't a reserved occupation, he was not a conscientous objector, he was of good health, there was no scandal about him not joining up and he was never conscripted.

Can anyone throw any light as to why he wasn't called up?

Sean

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There may have been a medical reason, if not I think that local or family circumstances may have had something to do with it.

On Wednesday 21st August 1918 at the Holmfirth Military Tribunal a forty-eight year old painter and part time fireman was given six months exemption from service on condition that he remained a member of the Fire Brigade. Another forty-eight year old painter said he had one son in the army, another in the navy, and another was due to join up. Asked if he had any objection to joining the local home defence volunteers he told the tribunal that they already had three of his sons and in all fairness he thought that was sufficient. He was granted six months unconditional exemption from service.

In September six months exemption was granted in each of these five cases:

A thirty-four year old undertaker and joiner who said that there were originally three partners and two had now joined the army. The man also kept pigs and poultry and had a large vegetable garden. A thirty-nine year old married joiner who was said to be one of only two men left in a business that used to employ twenty-four men before the war. And a painter who had one brother killed, one wounded in hospital and one medically discharged. Also a thirty-nine year old man with five children whose brother was invalided, and a married man whose two brothers had both enlisted, one had died while a prisoner in Germany.

In these cases the war was over when their exemptions ran out, but some exemptions granted early in the war were simply renewed whenever necessary throughout the war. There is a good deal of local flexibility, and I have seen a case made for continuing to whitewash mill walls on health grounds by one tribunal member.

Tony.

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Hello Sean,

Is it possible his skills as a painter were deployed elsewhere or that he worked in another trade-in the shipyards perhaps. I notice you're from the northeast, and I'm just throwing a couple of ideas around.

Cheers,

Dave

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did he work in the coal mining industry?

I was under the impression that unlike World War Two there was no exemption for miners per se.

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The only reason I can think of is that he had 4 children all under the age of 5 years.

I've looked at quite a few newspaper reports of tribunals from Derbyshire and North Wales. On the whole they were more lenient than you might imagine. The above comment, combined with the fact that he was likely to have been the sole wage earner, may well have been enough for him to have been granted an exemption. Thus so scandal - it may well have been all relatively routine. In addition, as others have suggested, there may have been contributing medical reasons.

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I've looked at quite a few newspaper reports of tribunals from Derbyshire and North Wales. On the whole they were more lenient than you might imagine. The above comment, combined with the fact that he was likely to have been the sole wage earner, may well have been enough for him to have been granted an exemption. Thus so scandal - it may well have been all relatively routine. In addition, as others have suggested, there may have been contributing medical reasons.

Neither his age nor his children would have made him ineligible. My Grandfather was older and had 7 children , 15 or younger. i.e. only 1 at work. He was conscripted in 1916.

Appeals were held locally and many different criteria were applied. There was very little consistency in their decisions.

He may have failed the medical throuugh flat feet for instance. Very bad eyesight. John Kipling failed on this. Too short. Hard of hearing. A heart condition. The reasons for a man, who was able to support a family, failing a medical were numerous.

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I was under the impression that unlike World War Two there was no exemption for miners per se.

Jon,

didnt realise that coal mining was'nt exempt as for WW2, thanks for that, my idea originated from the fact that Darlington tended to be a mining area rather than shipbuilding as it's inland,

having said that teeside and Hartlepool are'nt that far off, which along with Whitby and Scarborough was shelled in 1914:

see

http://www.northeasthistory.co.uk/the_nort...ents/index.html

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I not saying it's an absolute, but I believe this has been discussed on the forum before, also coming from a mining village at least half of the men on my local memorial were connected with the pits, with several being in tunnelling companies.

Jon

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Neither his age nor his children would have made him ineligible.

No, and I didn't intend to imply that was the case, rather that some tribunals (because of the inconsistency you refer to) may well have judged it sufficient to grant an exemption. I suspect that the majority of the ones I have read about may well have granted a conditional exemption for a set period of time - often up to 6 months. I have also noted that most who had been given a time limited exemption often successfully argued their case to gain a further exemption.

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No, and I didn't intend to imply that was the case, rather that some tribunals (because of the inconsistency you refer to) may well have judged it sufficient to grant an exemption.

I agree. The inconsistency between panels and between the same panel's decisions at different times, was a source of major grievance.

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Those Tribunals!

One man applied to a Sussex Tribunal on the grounds that he knew the "recipe" for Ronuk, which was a floor polish much used in military hospitals.

A Brighton mans employer applied for his exemption. He worked in a gents outfitters and the other male members of staff were in the forces, and had been replaced by women. The employer wanted the man exempted because he was the only member of staff who could take inside leg measurements. :unsure:

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The butcher in my village sought an exemption for his assisstant on the grounds that if he went to the army like the others had the business would fold as he, the butcher, would not be able to continue alone.

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Jon,

didnt realise that coal mining was'nt exempt as for WW2, thanks for that, my idea originated from the fact that Darlington tended to be a mining area rather than shipbuilding as it's inland,

having said that teeside and Hartlepool are'nt that far off, which along with Whitby and Scarborough was shelled in 1914

Though I also believe that coal miners were not exempt from service, there is at least one case of coal miners early on in the war being brought back from front line service and returned to their jobs in the pits. It was realised that too many had volunteered to serve in the forces and had thus depleted the mines of the required labour.

Is there any good source of information about reasons being given for being exempt from service after the 1916 conscription? I thinking web based and I'm sure that there are some absolute gems!

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Thanks for all the replies, I'm scratching my head even more now!

He wasn't connected with the mines but Darlington had a large railway and iron working industry, he perhaps was involved in this area.

Sean

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In talking with my older relatives, it seems that neither of my grandfathers served in the Great War, although they were born an 1888 and 1890 and I would have thought of ideal age.

One was married in 1915 and the marriage certificate gives his occupation as Clerk in Probate Registry, age 27. The other was single, and most likely a quarryman, perhaps a better reason for not being conscripted.

Can anyone offer any information about reserved occupations, or suggest where I might be able to research their particular cases?

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welcome to the forum

The clerk working on probate would have been a very busy chap during the war years so perhaps he was exempt

cant think why a quarryman would be exempt when miners joined up

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Lots of funny things went on.

My paternal grandfather was in the TA and shot for the army - ideal sniper you would have thought.

But, in fact, he was never called up. He worked in Devonport dockyard, and my father tells me that when he and his mates received their papers, the naval doctor simply signed the lot off as unfit and they went back to work!

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How would one find out where these tribunals were held, and are there any records of them? Were they held in military or civil establishments? Would they have been reported in local newspapers, in either the town the tribunal took place or the persons home town?

I'm looking for information on ancestors from Somerset, one in Wells, one in Croscombe near Shepton Mallet.

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Tribunals where held everywhere, even in quite small places. They were panels of local civilians with a military representative, who was not necessarily a military man himself. They were usually reported in the local newspaper, but not many seem to name the men concerned. Certainly in my area names are never given. Not many Tribunal records are left these days, but I seem to remember a post on the Forum saying some of them survived, but I cannot remember for where.

Tony.

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Thanks for your help. Now that I know the right terms to search for, I was able to find this useful link:

First World War: Conscientious Objectors & Exemptions from Service

http://www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/catalog...etID=25&j=1

3. Surviving Records

In 1921 the Ministry of Health decided that all papers relating to individual cases of exemption from National Service, including those on grounds of conscientious objection, should be destroyed, along with every tribunal minute book except those of the Central Tribunal. Thus the vast majority of files were lost, with only those of the Middlesex Appeal Tribunal (MH 47) , and the Lothian and Peebles Tribunal (now held by the National Archives of Scotland, ref: HH 30) kept as samples. Fortunately, some records were not actually destroyed and may now be found in local record offices. Surviving records held at The National Archives are few and far between.

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  • 3 years later...

Would employment as a motor mechanic be likely grounds for exemption from military service in WWI? I am researching the Norwell family of London. One of the three sons, John Archibald Norwell, was born in 1897 and would have turned 18 in 1915, and therefore have been eligible for conscription after the enactment of the Military Service Act in March 1916. However, there is no record of his serving (no medal card, no service records). When he emigrated to Canada in 1919, he gave his occupation as motor mechanic. John's younger (by a year) brother, Thomas Samuel, served as a private with the 15th London Regiment and was awarded the Victory Medal and the British War Medal. The third brother was only born in 1905 and was therefore too young to serve.

Elaine

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He may have only served in the UK and thus no MIC. His Service records could be amongst the 70% or so destroyed in Round 2 by the Luftwaffe...

A motor mechanic might have specialised in aero or tank engines, which might have been the reason. Napiers had a factory in Acton, so if from around there, that might be an explanation.

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  • Admin

The only reason I can think of is that he had 4 children all under the age of 5 years.

He was a Painter & Decorator which I believe wasn't a reserved occupation, he was not a conscientous objector, he was of good health, there was no scandal about him not joining up and he was never conscripted.

Can anyone throw any light as to why he wasn't called up?

Sean

Your best bet is the local newspaper who reported the Tribunal results.

I've seen a painter and decorator (in Kettering) who was exempted on the grounds his business would end and as a result his family would be destitute. In fairness the tribunals did apply common sense to their decisions and fathers of large families were often exempt.

One of my great uncles although exempted (shoe trade) was aged 35 so strictly speaking came within the terms of the Act, joined the local volunteer force after his younger brothers enlisted. A fourth brother had nothing to do with the politicians Imperial War!

Ken

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