Tuesday, 13 January 2015

Musician Against Conscription and the Dance of Death, Spring 1916

Another Conscientious Objector from Acton:
for class politics (united with religious principle)

John Danforth Herman Greenwood, Musical Composer and Conductor, 39 Hillcrest Road, Acton Hill.

“John Danforth Herman Greenwood (26 June 1889 – 15 April 1975), a composer best known for his work in motion pictures...”

Excerpts from Central Military Service Tribunal and Middlesex Appeal Tribunal: Minutes and Papers,
Case Number: M155. (National Archives Reference: MH 47/8/100)  Grounds of Appeal:
D: On the ground that serious hardship would ensure [ensue] if the man were called up for Army service, owing to his exceptional financial or business obligations or domestic position.
F: On the ground of a conscientious objection to the undertaking of combatant service.   
Notice of Appeal.        Grounds on which appeal made:         Conscientious .          
I claim full exemption from any kind of service with the army. I also definitely and absolutely refuse to serve the military machine in any capacity whatever. I am willing to undergo any penalty which the authorities might see fit to impose .To the charge of selfishness and unwillingness to save life – I reply that it is illogical for the promoters and supporters of this terrible carnage to  talk of humanity or unselfishness. I claim to be a Christian in the true sense of the word - which word to me embraces – internatonalism  brotherhood and liberty of conscience.
I believe that the root cause of this war and of all others is the craving on the part of a priveledged [sic] class (this class is common to all nations) for power and above all money. This  craving is disguised under the names of “Imperialism” “Honour”, “God” and the like, and by such things the masses of the people are deceived.
I reiterate my refusal and ask how long this “Dance of Death” is to continue?
 [Signed] John D H Greenwood, March 6th../16
Reasons for the decision of the Local Tribunal
The Tribunal considered that not sufficient reason was given to justify them granting exemption except from combatant service only; even if they had power to do so      
Wm Hodson
[clerk to the] Acton Local Tribunal
For Appeal Tribunal:     appeal dismissed             22 MAR 1916

In his original application JD H Greenwood, aged 26 at the time, had described himself as Musical Composer, Pianist and Conductor & Theatrical Conductor, and stated at the question about employment: “I have cancelled my engagements owing to the [Military Service] Act”.
He presented “Domestic and  conscientious objections”:
Reasons in support of the application.             My Mother is a widow and half German. I am her eldest son. For some time she has been very ill, and at the  present time is seriously so – having undergone a serious operation, and another one is to follow shortly. This of course can be verified. She is a strong pacifist, and said she “would rather I  were dead than in the army” I must for myself refuse to kill - or be under military rule in any capacity; whatever consequences may ensue from my decision. For nineteen hundred and sixteen years almost we have had the advantage of the teaching of the Prince of Peace – but today finds us more barbarous than before He came. Europe has become a shambles. In the name of Christ and Humanity I take this opportunity of protesting against the Emperors – capitalists, secret diplomatists and the like who have directly or indirectly caused this war. They are guilty of treason against the human race – and will have to answer for it before the biggest tribunal of all. -- - If a selfish and corrupt government do not consider my life-work as composer of music (vide Who’s Who Music) of sufficient importance I will work on a farm and furnish proofs to that effect periodically. In the event of imprisonment I would ask for a delay until my mother has had her second operation.
John D H Greenwood
17 February 1916
Memorandum from Local Tribunal military representative  (handwritten)
John D H Greenwood
Acton Tribunal
If this man will read the Act he will find that he has been granted all that he is entitled to under it, and has therefore no good ground for appealing against the decision of the tribunal.
John Kent
Military Representative 
A vertical cross has been superimposed (by hand) on the above, and the covering letter sent with papers relating to the Appeal on 10th March has an added note (handwritten) saying “No observations submitted by Military Representative”.  
NOTICE OF HEARING dated 17 MAR 1916. Appeal to be heard 22 MAR 1916, Guildhall, 2.30 p.m.
NOTICE OF DECISION       24 MAR 1916      ... “that the appeal be dismissed”

From Pearce Database (early version)
Some of what happened after Greenwood’s appeal was refused:
·         Hounslow 8.5.16 - Non-Combatant Corps (NCC ; 3 Eastern)
·         Transfer to NCC (1/2 Aldershot) 23.6.16
·         Arrest reported 30.6.16 - “Absentee”    
·         CM (court-martialled) Aldershot 6.7.16 - 56 days Hard Labour
·         served time in Winchester Civil Prison                   
·         Home Office Scheme (“alternative work”) and transfer to Army Reserve Class W 19.8.16
From BMD records: he  married in 1947 and died in 1975 in Lewes, Sussex

SEE ALSO: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_D._H._Greenwood etc.

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