Wednesday, 3 September 2014

Another Appeal against Conscription, 1916-1918

by Alfred William Evans, Conscientious Objector (more on his story later too).

Excerpts from Central Military Service Tribunal and Middlesex Appeal Tribunal: Minutes and Papers, Case Number: M56. (National Archives

Handwriting on front of file: JONES, ALFRED WILLIAM
Notice of Appeal. (Received) 6-3-16. (2) Grounds on which appeal made: I am a Conscientious Objector and absolutely refuse to take the Military Oath. I consider it inconsistent with the doctrines of Christ and absolutely abhorrent and although I am willing to perform R.A.M.C. [Royal Army Medical Corps] work for which I was recommended by the Local Tribunal I cannot do so under the Military Oath. (Signed: A.W. Evans). [Aged 20]

Reasons for the decision of the Local (Southall-Norwood) Tribunal
Applicant had offered his services for the RAMC and was still willing to undertake that service.   [4-3-16]
Appeal dismissed 21/3/16
Reasons in support of the Application
            Religious and Moral convictions.
I absolutely refuse to take human life as I consider it inconsistent with the doctrines of Christ.
I firmly believe in the Fatherhood of God, and the Brotherhood of Man, and as God gave me my life I have no right to take it, still less indeed that of a fellow man.
I cannot take the Military Oath.
Signed: A. W. Evans   Feb. 21st 1916.
Decision of the Tribunal: Exemption from combatant service only. F [as a CO]. The Tribunal recommend that Applicant be put in the R.A.M.C.             1/3/16
15-3-16 Appeal to be heard 21st March, Guildhall.  23-3-16 Decision that the Appeal be dismissed. 

CONSCIENTIOUS OBJECTORS. HC Deb 01 August 1916 vol 85 cc10-210

Winchester military prison
§10. Sir W. BYLES  asked the Secretary of State for War whether a young apprentice named Alfred Evans, a conscientious objector under the Military Service Act, was called up on 25th April, was sent to Felixstowe, where he refused to obey military orders, was sentenced to twenty-eight days' imprisonment, and confined in Harwich Circular Redoubt; whether, after serving one week, he was sent to France, where, still refusing to obey military orders, as they were opposed to his moral and religious principles, he suffered various penalties, including extension drill; whether, on 24th June, he was court-martialled and sentenced to death, the sentence afterwards being commuted to ten years' penal servitude; whether he was brought to Winchester on 13th July and his parents visited him on 18th July, having some conversation with him through the double grille; whether he had, in ignorance of the rules, incurred a further penalty by speaking to a fellow conscientious objector and had been given solitary confinement; whether he is aware of the effect of the experience of the past few months on these lads, who are intelligent, clean-living fellows whose only offence is their devotion to their God and refusal to take part in the destruction of human life; whether he and his companions now in Winchester Gaol are to be sent to Portland Convict Prison; and whether, in view of the Prime Minister's pledge that the men who are held to be genuine conscientious objectors will be released from the civil prison on their undertaking to perform work of national importance under civil control, and that all the men whose objection to active military service is founded on honest conviction ought to be and will be able to avail themselves of the exemption which Parliament has provided, he proposes to take any action in the matter?

§Mr. FORSTER [replied] In view of the fact that this case will be considered by the Central Tribunal, no action in the matter is necessary.

24-4-18. Letter: Southall Trades & Labour Council to the Middlesex Appeal Tribunal.
[Alfred Evans was living in Southall at the time of his arrest; his workplace, or at least his employers' address, was in central London]

In view of the facts that Tribunals have now been asked to forward the names of persons who would have been given absolute exemption had the Tribunal realised it lay in their power, I am directed by the above Council representing approximately 2,000 Trades Unionists to forward the following resolution.
That this Council calls upon the Appeal Tribunal to reconsider the case of Alfred William Evans, a C.O. who has suffered various terms of imprisonment in this Country, also sentenced to Death n France and now undergoing a  term of imprisonment in Maidstone Gaol.  We Demand that this same be immediately forwarded to the Local Government Board, furthermore that all papers be obtained from the Local Tribunal who states that this case has passed out of their jurisdiction; also that this Council and the Parents be notified Date and Time of hearing, so that representatives may be the present on behalf of the above.           
[Signed by Secretary]

See also (for multiple references to Alfred Evans, indexed): We Will Not Fight:  the untold story of World War One’s conscientious objectors, by Will Ellsworth-Jones, London, Aurum, 2008; and -references and quotes.

1 comment:

  1. 25 November: Experiences and Beliefs of Alfred Evans, World War 1 CO threatened with Execution – Malcolm Pittock (his nephew)
    Organised by Bolton Quakers and all welcome.
    Part of programme: World War I Tuesday ‘Not Such a Lovely War’ Talks and Discussions at Friends Meeting House, Silverwell Street, Bolton, 7.30 – 9pm