Thursday, 14 December 2017

More Scottish COs: Campbeltown, Islay, Arran

The two men from Lochgilphead, Duncan Macdonald and Duncan Campbell McTavish, whose cases came up in the preceding post, were not the only First World War conscientious objectors (COs) in the rural south-west of Scotland. There were at least half a dozen more, from quite close by, whose paths may have crossed with theirs.


Dr John MacCallum is the best known to historians, and has already been referred to on this blog. Without repeating his story here, it is worth noting his Argyllshire connections. As well as being described as "TB officer" for that county, he was a son of the (Church of Scotland) manse, to wit Muckairn Manse, Taynuilt, now a Category B listed building.

It is tempting to conclude that Peter Sim from the Isle of Arran was the same person as P Simm from Arran, but if the latter's meagre record is accurate this may not be the case. Peter Sim was sentenced at Court Martial to 112 days in Wormwood Scrubs and arrested as an absentee, then sent to Wakefield work centre under the Home Office Scheme (HOS) for alternative service. "P Simm", on the other hand, is described as an Absolutist and must have refused or come off the HOS since he had served 3 sentences by January 1919... (Maybe he thought better of going along with the HOS, or absconded from Wakefield?)

Peter Sim
Age        -
Birth year            -
Year       -
Soldier Number                -
Address               -
Address 2            Isle of Arran
Local authority  Arran County District
County Buteshire
Country                Scotland
Latitude               -
Longitude            -
Ordnance Survey reference        -
Motivation          -
War Service        CM (Court Martial) Perth 14.9.16 - 112 days HL (With hard labour), to Wormwood S.
Magistrates Court            Arrest reported 19.9.16
Magistrates Court comments     Absentee
Prison   Wormwood S.
Work Centre      HOS (The Home Office Scheme, administered by the Brace Committee) to Wakefield
WO363 false
Sources                NCF (No-Conscription Fellowship)/COIB Report XLV; FH/SER/VOPC/Cases/7(2549) 
Record set          Conscientious Objectors' Register 1914-1918

P Simm
Age        -
Birth year            -
Year       -
Soldier Number                -
Address               -
Address 2            Arran
Local authority  Arran County District
County Buteshire
Country                Scotland
Latitude               -
Longitude            -
Ordnance Survey reference        -
Absolutist            Yes
Motivation          -
War Service        ?
Prison   By Jan.1919 had served 3 sentences (1 month furlough) and more than two years.
WO363 false
Sources                FH/FSC(1916/20)/SER3-Two Year Men;
Record set          Conscientious Objectors' Register 1914-1918

The island of Islay also produced a pair of COs, for one of whom a WO363 record is available.

John McFadyen, a ploughman aged 24 and 5'2" tall in 1916, was granted ECS and duly joined the NCC at Stirling Castle, serving without recorded incident until demob on 22-7-19.

John McFadyen
Marital status    Single
Occupation         Ploughman
Age        24
Birth year            1892
Year       1916
Soldier Number                1331
Address               Coullabus
Address 2            Gruinart
Local authority  Islay County District
County Argyllshire
Country                Scotland
Latitude               55.76
Longitude            -6.23
Ordnance Survey reference        NR348608
Motivation          -
Military Service Tribunal                MST (Military Service Tribunal) (?) - ECS (Exemption from Combatant Service)
War Service        NCC (Non-Combatant Corps) 16.6.16 Stirling Castle, (2 Scottish); Home: 16,6,16 - 22.7.19, Demob.
WO363 true
Sources                NA/WO363 - on line 
Record set          Conscientious Objectors' Register 1914-1918

John Mcfadyen
Age        24
Birth year            1892
Service number                1331
Regiment            Non-Combatant Corps
Unit / Battalion 3rd Scottish Company
Year       1916
Residence town               Galashiels
Residence county            Selkirkshire
Residence country          Scotland
Series    WO 363
Series description            WO 363 - First World War Service Records 'Burnt Documents'
Archive The National Archives
Record set          British Army Service Records
Category              Military, armed forces & conflict

John Mcfadyen
Age        24
Birth year            -
Service number                1331
Regiment            Non-Combatant Corps
Unit / Battalion 3rd Battalion
Year       1915
Series    WO 363
Series description            WO 363 - First World War Service Records 'Burnt Documents'
Archive The National Archives
Record set          British Army Service Records
Category              Military, armed forces & conflict

John Bell, a sawyer, was granted temporary exemption during June 1916, then ECS when his appeal at county level was dismissed. The only source given is one which would repay further study. It is quoted as if suggesting Bell has somehow managed to dodge the draft for the best part of two years:

John Bell
Occupation         Sawyer
Age        -
Birth year            -
Year       -
Soldier Number                -
Address               Lyrabus
Address 2            Islay
Local authority  Islay County District
County Argyllshire
Country                Scotland
Latitude               55.76
Longitude            -6.23
Ordnance Survey reference        NR348608
Motivation          -
Military Service Tribunal                MST (Military Service Tribunal) Islay Local 9.6.16 - temporary exemption to 30.6.16; County appeal rejected - ECS (Exemption from Combatant Service) only, non-combatant
War Service        'This man is virtually a shirker, and although he has had call-up notices he has paid no attention to them and up until recently was occasionally employed as a jobbing labourer' (4.3.18)
WO363 false
Sources   [National Archives of Scotland file] NAS/HH31/28/60 Survey of Scottish Tribunals' use of Absolute Exemption - response by Islay Local 4.3.18.
Record set          Conscientious Objectors' Register 1914-1918

Two CO students with home address in Springfield Terrace, Campbeltown, look like brothers. James Scott, studying in Belfast, where he lived at 12 Elmbank Avenue, is said to have been motivated by (unspecified) religion. Granted Exemption from Combatant Service (ECS) in March 1916 he joined the Non-Combatant Corps (NCC) in August. At the end of September he was transferred to Army Reserve Class W to allow him to finish his studies, on condition that he join the OTC Ambulance Unit. A comparatively rational and humane outcome, by contrast with the majority of COs.

James Scott
Marital status    Single
Occupation         Medical student (Belfast University)
Age        20.11
Birth year            1896
Year       1916
Soldier Number                2629
Address               Springfield Terrace*
Address 2            Campbeltown
Local authority  Campbeltown Burgh
County Argyllshire
Country                Scotland
Latitude               55.42
Longitude            -5.62
Ordnance Survey reference        NR710200
Motivation          'Religious'
Military Service Tribunal                MST (Military Service Tribunal) Campbeltown 23.3.16 - ECS (Exemption from Combatant Service) only
War Service        NCC (Non-Combatant Corps) 25.8.16 Stirling Castle, (13 Aldershot); 30.9.18 transfer to Army Reserve Class W to allow him to continue his studies on condition that he join the University OTC Ambulance Unit
WO363 true
Notes    *His 'home' address; his university address - 12, Elmwood Avenue, Belfast
Sources                NA/WO363 - on line;
                 Record set          Conscientious Objectors' Register 1914-1918

Thomas Scott, two years older, was likewise ECS, conditional on his joining the RAMC (Royal Army Medical Corps) and served with the NCC from 18-8-16.

Thomas Scott
Single
Occupation         Student
Age        23
Birth year            1893
Year       1916
Soldier Number                2524
Address               Springfield Terrace
Address 2            Campbeltown
Local authority  Campbeltown Burgh
County Argyllshire
Country                Scotland
Latitude               55.42
Longitude            -5.62
Ordnance Survey reference        NR710200
Motivation          -
Military Service Tribunal                MST (Military Service Tribunal) (?) - ECS (Exemption from Combatant Service) conditional on his joining RAMC
War Service        NCC (Non-Combatant Corps) 18.8.16 Oxford, (4 Southern)
WO363 true
Sources                NA/WO363 - on line - incomplete
                 Record set          Conscientious Objectors' Register 1914-1918

Stirling Castle, where the NCC Scottish Companies mustered
Lastly, their fellow citizen William McMurchy was rather more unfortunate. A member of the Plymouth Brethren, he had been assigned to the Royal Scots and was court-martialled 'in the field' in January 1917. Sentenced to 12 months in prison, he came before the Central Tribunal at Wormwood Scrubs in July and was judged to be a Class A ("genuine") CO. As such he accepted the HOS and proceeded to Dartmoor work centre. Having been in the forces he was accorded the customary medals after the war, only to have them withdrawn in 1923, presumably because his CO status was pointed out.

William McMurchy
Age        27
Birth year            1890
Year       1917
Soldier Number                34458
Address               -
Address 2            Campbeltown
Local authority  Campbeltown Burgh
County Argyllshire
Country                Scotland
Latitude               55.42
Longitude            -5.62
Ordnance Survey reference        NR710200
France  Yes
Motivation          Plymouth Brethren
Military Service Tribunal                MST (Military Service Tribunal) Central Tribunal at Wormwood S. 29.6.17, CO class A, to Brace Committee
Central Tribunal                Central Tribunal Nos. W. 3693 Class: A - Genuine
War Service        11 Royal Scots FGCM (Court Martial) 'In the field' 20.1.17 - 12 months without HL (With hard labour), Wormwood S.*
Prison   Wormwood S. 7.5.17 to 14.7.17 to Dartmoor
Work Centre      HOS (The Home Office Scheme, administered by the Brace Committee) 14.7.17 to Dartmoor
WO363 false
Notes    *Awarded Victory and British Medals, withdrawn 1923.*Address in 1901 census.
Sources                LMA/4417/01/016 - Wormwood S. Nominal Register; Not found in NA/WO363; NA/British Army WW1 Medal Rolls 1914-1920; NA/MH47/2 Central Tribunal Minutes.
Record set          Conscientious Objectors' Register 1914-1918 
Category              Armed forces & conflict 

This small mixed bag of records, netted via a search using place-name keywords on the online database, is typical of the sort of information that may be found about COs in many areas of the country.

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