After the introduction of conscription, civilians might be exempted
from military service for reasons such as health grounds, running a business, caring for their
family or because they were working for the War Office in a munitions factory.
As the need for more soldiers increased, the War Office revised all
exemptions. These are the proceedings of a tribunal at Lytham in February, 1917.
ALL EXEMPTIONS TO BE
Lytham Tribunal met on Monday
evening; Mr. C. Costeker was the chairman. Other members present were Messrs. E. R.
Lightwood, W. F. Holden, A. Jones, E. Milns, W. J. Cartmell, T. Pemberton, Capt. Lowcock
(Military Representative), and C. A. Myers (clerk).
Before commencing the cases,
the Chairman announced that it was well-known that instructions had been received by the
Military Representative to revise certain cases which received conditional exemption. Rather
pick out cases here and there, Captain Lowcock had asked him if the Tribunal would be
willing to revise the whole of the cases where exemption had been granted. His personal view
was that this would be much the better way, and the members agreed.
A credit clothier aged 38,
whose case was adjourned at the last sitting in order to allow the man to make some
arrangements with regard to his business, and to get work of national importance, was asked
what he had done since the last hearing. The reply given was that he had complied with their
orders. A letter was produced from the Shipbuilding Co. to say the man started work there on
the 26th inst.Conditional
A letter had been received
from an Ansdell firm of joiners and undertakers with respect to one of their men who had
received conditional exemption, stating that the man left their employ on January
The Chairman: We granted
exemption on the grounds that this man is indispensable to this particular firm. Now that he
has left them I don’t see that we can do anything but cancel the certificate of exemption.
The man is not present to give us any information.
It was decided to cancel
the certificate of exemption.
Later in the evening, the man
put in an appearance, and when asked by the Chairman why he was not present to time replied
that he had been working. He produced a letter from a munition factory stating that he was
employed by Mr. B. Yates, who was doing important work at that factory. They were making
application to the Minister of Munitions for his exemption, and hoped the Tribunal would
take this into consideration when dealing with the case.
The Chairman: What class
are you in? — C2.
Well, you will get a form
saying you will be exempt if you get work of national importance within 14
The Applicant: But I am
doing such work now.—Yes, for a contractor.
A Member: I take it that
the work he is doing now is of national importance, and if work ceases, what will happen?—
Oh, the Military will look after him.
PERHAPS AFTER THE
A house decorator, a widower
aged 34, with two children, asked for conditional exemption on the ground of hardship, or as
an alternative he asked to be used for substitution purposes. He had been passed B1. He was
quite willing to work full time on munitions with their permission, and this would enable
him to keep his business together after he had finished work.
It transpired that this case
was heard at the last sitting, when it was decided to make enquiries from headquarters if
the Military Representative had power to substitute this man for one of the 150 single
unskilled or semi-skilled workers employed at the Shipyard. Certain correspondence had taken
place between the Clerk to the Tribunal and headquarters, but there was nothing definite in
the replies. The Chairman remarked that, perhaps, after the war, they might get a definite
The Chairman: How long do you
want to settle your affairs up?—A month or six weeks, if you will grant
The application was
refused, the man not to be called up before April 30th.
NOT NECESSARY TO WAR
The next case was that of a
photographer, aged 35, single, passed B1, whose case had been adjourned for a month in order
to allow the Clerk to the Tribunal to make enquiries into a statement that t he man was
wanted by the War Office in his present occupation.
The Clerk had written direct
to the War Office stating that the man had produced a letter from a Captain saying it was
necessary from time to time that this man should take photographs of pigeons. Another letter
was also produced from the Captain asking the man to take the photograph of a certain bird.
What the Tribunal wanted to know was: Is it necessary that a man aged 35, single, should be
retained in his present employment for the purpose of photographing
A reply had been received,
saying: I am directed to inform you that it is not the desire of the War Office that he be
exempted from military service
Mr. Cooper, solicitor, who
appeared for applicant, stated that there was nothing in the letter sent by the Clerk to
show that the man was photographing a pigeon probably belonging to the Germans. The letter
also said that he was not an attested man. The man went to attest, and was rejected. Mr.
Cooper submitted that the letter received from the Captain was of far more importance than
the one from the War Office. He also suggested that the Clark should have written to the
Captain asking for his views.
The Chairman: But when you
want to know anything about the Army and soldiers, the place to write to is the War
Office.—But the Captain mentioned is the head of this particular business, and it is quite
possible that he may not have been communicated with.
The Chairman: But they
have had every opportunity of communicating with him if they wanted his
Mr. Cooper also pointed
out that it was twice mentioned in the letter sent by the Clerk that the man was single, and
A Member of the Tribunal
asked from what source the letters produced by applicant from the Captain
The Chairman: General
Headquarters, Home Office, Whitehall, London.
The Chairman: If you were
not satisfied with the reply received from the War Office why did you not correspond with
the Captain before coming here?—I could not do so until after the adjourned
The Solicitor: I suggest
that if it had been pointed out that the pigeons were of German origin a different reply
might have been received.
A Member: Do you suggest
that the information you desire has not been received? Yes, I do.
Proceeding, the solicitor
said that this man had been in the business 16 years, and during the last 11 years, whilst
his father had been Paralysed, he had carried on the whole of the business. His brother had
already joined the forces, and out of the income from the business four people had to be
kept. There were two sisters, with nothing to turn to, and if applicant was called up they
would have a severe task in finding a means of obtaining a livelihood. The man specialised
in Photographing birds and animals. The business would have to be sold if he were called
The Chairman: Could not a
lady do the work? I have seen photographs of animals taken by ladies.
Applicant: I do not know
of a lady, or anyone else, who is doing this work except my brother, who is in Birmingham,
The Solicitor: If we could
get someone to carry on the business, the man is willing to go. We have satisfied the
Military Representative that we have done all we can to get someone else, and been
Applicant: It is not the
portrait part of the business which could not be carried on. I daresay I could teach someone
that part in a week. But you can't expect my sister to put her hand in a box where there is
a vicious dog, probably a bull-dog. It sometimes takes me two hours to get a photograph of
an animal. I am receiving dogs almost every day for photographing
The Chairman: I don't want
you to think that I don't follow you in your case. You have made it very clear, and I quite
see that hardship will ensue, but in every case which comes before us a certain amount of
hardship occurs. What I have in my mind is that he is a B1 man, single, and we are informed
that B1 men are wanted as much as A men.
Mr. Cover: Yes but this
man was rejected altogether on offering himself for attestation, and was then passed B1. Are
those men not expected to march five miles? I am sure this man could not do
Capt. Lowcock: But the
Medical Board say he can and it is no use discussing their decision.
Mr. Cooper: I should also
like to point out that he has had no opportunity of getting married. He has had to look
after the business whilst his father has been ill, and now has to support his two sisters.
What chance has he had of getting married?
The Chairman: Oh, I'm not
blaming him at all for that. I sometimes wish I was a single man, and 35 years of
On being asked to retire, Mr.
Cooper said that he thought the further they looked into the case the more they would view
it from applicant's standpoint.
Application not assented
to, the man not to be called up before April 30th.
The next applicant was a
student in wireless telegraphy, passed C1. He resided at Fairhaven, and was aged
The Chairman: Have you any
documentary evidence that you are studying wireless - No, I haven't.
Where are you studying?—At
Manchester; I travel backwards and forwards every day.
How long have you been
studying?—Since last March. There will be an examination in March. I have sat for one, but
A Member: I have heard of
people passing in wireless after three months' studying? — May be, but you have to be able
to repair the apparatus. It is the receiving part which is bothering me a little. Only
practice can make you competent in that department.
When you were rejected on
offering yourself for attestation, what was the matter with you?—I was suffering from a
compound fracture of the leg, following an accident in July, caused by a motor
If you are going to be
such a long time in learning wireless, had you not better be in the Army?—Well, I should
like to sit for my examination. We have them practically every month.
Will there be one in
April?—I should think so, but I can’t say for certain.
Temporary exemption was
granted till April 30th, subject to applicant producing documentary evidence that he was
attending the school mentioned.
The next application was that
of an employer, who appealed for his domestic gardener for a month's exemption. The man was
aged 29, and had been passed B3.
Taking into consideration a
recent operation, the Tribunal ordered him not to be called up before the end of
The last application was that
of a pig breeder, aged 27, single, passed C3, for whom Mr. P. H. Stephenson
The solicitor stated that the
man was previously employed in a Lancaster munition works. Since his father had had to give
up the business of pig breeding, owing to his age, the son had continued it. He had now 22
pigs, and he (the solicitor) thought he was more usefully employed pig breeding than doing
C3 work in the Army. He had no help whatever, and supported his mother, who was practically
Capt. Lowcock: How many
pigs have you bred since you took over? - 16.
How many have you sold
during the last twelve months? -Eleven, averaging 13 score each.
The Solicitor: But how
many pigs will you have ready within the next few months? Nineteen, worth about £10
Have you any young
pigs?—Yes, I had litter came last week, and I am expecting another
Do you collect the swill
yourself?—Yes; if I did not do so it would probably be thrown into the
Conditional exemption was
granted whilst the man is solely engaged in pig breeding.