Tuesday, 1 September 2015

Ealing’s WW1 COs: Five More from Hanwell

Update  The total number of records from the Pearce Register of Conscientious Objectors available via the Imperial War Museum’s Lives of the First World War website now stands at 17,426. As was to be expected, keyword searches indicate that these include more residents from the (present-day) London Borough of Ealing than were included in the Partial Overview previously posted. The current figures are (some approximately, as false positives and duplicates can’t always be detected without looking at each transcription):  Ealing 85; Acton 50; Southall 27; and Hanwell 15, excluding four COs from other places who were committed to Hanwell Asylum.
The Hanwell transcriptions have been looked at, and all five of the new names (i.e. not previously noted on this blog) also match appellants with case files among those of the Middlesex Appeal Tribunal (MAT)*.
They are:
·         Harry Leon Curtis, Salesman, 103, Elthorne Park Road;
·         Percival Norman Curtis, Salesman and collector, 103, Elthorne Park Road;
·         Arthur Hazell, Grocer's carman, 7, Westminster Road;
·         Alfred Percy Shawyer, Postman, 21, Deans Road;
·         Augustus Willis Smith, Butcher and slaughterman, 16, Half Acre Road. 
Four out of five of these appeals were dismissed in what looks like a briskly routine fashion; they did not  give the Appeal Tribunal case much trouble, so the files are comparatively slim. Yet each relates to an individual story.
As might be guessed, the first two were brothers, recorded in the 1911 Census as living at the same address in Elthorne Park Road with their father (a Horse Collar Maker from Hereford), mother and maternal grandparents. Harry Leon Curtis, 20, was a Gas Fitter Salesman and Percival Norman Curtis, 15, a Coal Office Clerk. Five years later, Harry was employed as a Salesman for Electrical Lighting & Heating accessories, Percival as a ‘Salesman and collector in Coal trade’. Neither had ‘attested’ their willingness to serve, and both, after their claims for exemption were refused by the local tribunal, lodged appeals dated 2nd March 1916, in very similar terms.

Grounds on which appeal made:
1. That judging from the remarks made by the Local Tribunal [...] I failed to convince them that I have conscientious objections.
2. That I am now in possession of further evidence [...] that I have held these conscientious objections for upwards of nine years, which evidence I wish to submit.
3. That I in fact have such conscientious objections as entitles me to relief, and have held same since childhood.
Harry Leon Curtis
Percival added
4. That I am engaged in a trade of national importance.
The Local Tribunal’s comments were the same for each of them:
Applicant failed to convince the Tribunal of the genuineness of his claim that he had a conscientious objection.
The claim was based on ‘Religious Convictions’:
I have been baptised & confirmed in the Church of England & am a regular Chorister & communicant since youth at St. Thomas’ Boston Rd. Hanwell. [Harry]
I have been baptised, brought up & confirmed into the Church of England & have been since childhood a regular communicant & chorister in same. [Percival]
Side door of St. Thomas's church, Hanwell

Given the vociferous support for the war and hostility to COs expressed by so many spokesmen for the Church of England, probably including members of the Tribunal, it is hardly surprising that these brief statements were not enough to win their case. Any additional evidence adduced is not on file; notices of dismissal of the appeals went out on 22nd March. Transcriptions from the IWM show what happened next.

[Harry] War Service        Essex Regiment; transfer to 1/9th (County of London) Bn. (Queen Victoria's Rifles), killed in action 6.10.16. Thiepval Memorial.

So Harry was already dead when Percival’s ‘War Service’ (possibly deferred due to his work in the coal trade) began. He survived and was duly awarded the British War and Victory Medals: 28.2.17 Hounslow, Suffolk Regiment (Reserve Garrison); transfer to Labour Company 15.3.17 Northants. Regiment ; Home Service: 28.2.16 to 24.3.17; France: 25.3.17 to (?) ; Demob.14.12.19.
The older church building
              where the Curtis brothers were choristers.
Unlike the Curtis brothers, and very unusually for a CO, Arthur Hazell, Wholesale grocer's carman living at 7 Westminster Road, had ‘attested’, at Southall Library. According to his IWM transcription he is recorded as having lodged an “Appeal in CO (F), his employers also appealed but refused”.  Only the latter appears to be on the MAT file, which does not supply much information about him (e.g. his age is not indicated).
Grounds on which appeal made:
Inability to replace him.
50% of our staff have joined the forces.
Necessity of supplying food to the people.
Goldway Bros.,
The local (Southall-Norwood) tribunal explained its refusal:
After hearing both employer & him on 23rd Feby 1916 Claim dismissed insufficient grounds.
His subsequent fate, after the appeal was likewise dismissed, is not recorded.

Postman Alfred Percy Shawyer, from Paddington, was already a Boarder at 21 Deans Road in 1911, staying with an older fellow-postman, Ernest Cohill (also born in Paddington), and his wife. They would no doubt have been acquainted with another Hanwell CO and Post Office worker, George Brodie, who lived at 50 Deans Road. Shawyer was employed at Hanwell Sorting Office. Aged 30 in 1916, he applied for Absolute exemption from military service on 19th February on the dual grounds of ‘Moral conviction’ and being medically unfit, citing ‘Testimony of Dr. Hope, Postal Medical Officer’.
He was partially successful:
Granted exemption from Combatant Service and from other than Garrison duty at home & abroad.
[Signed]     6th March 1916
His fitness for Garrison duty at home or abroad had been stated in a letter of 4th March from the Army Recruiting Office in Bond Street, Ealing, by the doctor who examined him. A further examination was ordered for the Appeal hearing, resulting in a more favourable outcome, in the short term at least, insofar as:
... the Appeal Tribunal have decided that the man be exempted from the provisions of the Military Service Act 1916. The exemption is temporary for a period of six months from the 27th March, 1916.
The ground on which exemption is granted is that ill-health has been established.
A handwritten note at the front of the file confirms
Shawyer.     Passed for sedentary work only.
According to new regulations he will be retained on the reserve but not called up at present.

The occupation of Augustus Willis Smith, ‘Butcher and slaughterman', 16 Half Acre Road, hardly fits the profile of a typical Conscientious Objector. Whether or not it struck them as incongruous, his claim got short shrift from the local tribunal. He stated his grounds briefly without elaboration, or reference to religion.
Conscientious grounds. Moral convictions. Absolute exemption.
I have an honest & sincere objection to all forms of military service.
This was not regarded as enough.
Applicant entirely failed to convince the Tribunal that he had a Conscientious objection.
The statement in a letter from applicant’s father (annexed) that he is engaged in a certified occupation, was not considered by the Tribunal, applicant stating that he made no claim on those grounds but confined his claim to the ground of a Conscientious objection.
Evidently it did not occur to them to draw the inference that his failure even to attempt to play the certified-occupation card might be a sign of his sincerity. Their decision was endorsed by the Military Representative:
1. The appellant described himself as a butcher and slaughterman, but as exemption as been granted to three other slaughtermen in Hanwell, and no claim was made on the ground of occupation, it is submitted that the appeal should not be allowed on this ground.
2. The Members of the Local Tribunal have an intimate knowledge of the appellant’s circumstances, and believe that the true ground of the appeal that the appellant’s father, who is also a butcher, wishes to retain him to help in his business [...]
3. The Local Tribunal were convinced that the appellant had no conscientious objection whatever.
The father gave his occupation as Master Butcher in the 1911 census, when the family were living at 14 Maunder Road, Hanwell. (They were settled in the area – Augustus was born in Ealing, and his mother and sister in Hanwell.) 
The letter referred to by the Military Representative, unhelpful as it turned out to be, is on file:
16 Halfacre Rd.
Hanwell, W
To the Chairman of the Tribunal,
I am appealing on behalf of my only son who’s [sic] Convictions were known to me from the earliest days of the war. I know that he absolutely refuses any military service whatever, not only that he is in a reserved trade as slaughterman assisting me in my own work and as slaughterman for the County Asylum Hanwell at present I am sorry to say that it is impossible for me to do without him having strained the muscles of my back besides what man can pull a bullock about weighing 8 or 9 hundred pounds by himself. *
Yours faithfully
F.W. Smith       * [Augustus was aged 22 in 1916, his father 46]
The Appeal Tribunal decision was that the appeal be dismissed, but Smith’s claim to be a Conscientious Objector was later vindicated as ‘genuine’ by the Central Tribunal, and like others he suffered for his beliefs, eventually joining the inmates (including some from his home area) not only of prisons but in the notorious Dyce camp and Dartmoor Work Centre. The transcription outlines the recorded stages of the rest of his war:
Central Tribunal at Wandsworth MP (Military Prison) 9.8.16 - CO class A, to Brace Committee; Central Tribunal Nos. W.196 M.13 Class: A - Genuine
War Service     1 (R) Garr. Suffolk; CM (Court Martial) Tilbury Fort 20.6.16 - 2yrs.HL (With hard labour) commuted to 3 months HL Maidstone CP (Civil Prison)
Work Centre    24.6.16 to HOS (The Home Office Scheme, administered by the Brace Committee); 22.8.16 to Dyce Camp, Aberdeen; 19.9.16 released from Dyce Camp on health grounds - Illness
May 1917 Dartmoor, Secretary of Dartmoor NCF (No-Conscription Fellowship) branch.

Thus the man judged to have “no conscientious objection whatever” emerges as one of the most steadfast and committed of COs.
* MAT file details (as listed by National Archives):

Case Number: M11. Harry Leon Curtis of 103 Elthorne Park Road, Hanwell. Occupation: Salesman, Electric Lighting and Heating Accessories. Grounds of Appeal: F: On the ground of a conscientious objection to the undertaking of combatant service. Catalogue reference:  MH 47/8/6

Case Number: M12. Percival Norman Curtis of 103 Elthorne Park Road, Hanwell. Occupation: Salesman and Collector in Coal Trade. Grounds of Appeal: F: On the ground of a conscientious objection to the undertaking of combatant service. Catalogue reference:  MH 47/8/7

Case Number: V69. Arthur Hazell of 7 Westminster Road, Hanwell. Occupation: Wholesale Grocer's Carman. Grounds of Appeal: F: On the ground of a conscientious objection to the undertaking of combatant service. Catalogue reference:  MH 47/72/51

Case Number: M190. Alfred Percy Shawyer of 21 Deans Road, Hanwell. Occupation: Postman. Grounds of Appeal: E: On the ground of ill-health or infirmity. F: On the ground of a conscientious objection to the undertaking of combatant service. Catalogue reference:  MH 47/9/13

Case Number: M13. Augustus Willis Smith of 16 Half Acre Road, Hanwell. Occupation: Butcher and Slaughterman. Grounds of Appeal: F: On the ground of a conscientious objection to the undertaking of combatant service. Catalogue reference:  MH 47/8/8

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