Lytham St.Annes Coat of Arms
Lytham St.Annes, Lancashire, England


A Lytham Tribunal, 1917

 On 2 March 1916, the 'Derby Scheme' was officially replaced by conscription.

 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.



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 exemption granted.


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 20th.

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 days.

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.


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 answer.

The Chairman: How long do you want to settle your affairs up?—A month or six weeks, if you will grant it.


The application was refused, the man not to be called up before April 30th.


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 pigeons?

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 advice.

Mr. Cooper also pointed out that it was twice mentioned in the letter sent by the Clerk that the man was single, and 35.

A Member of the Tribunal asked from what source the letters produced by applicant from the Captain came.

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 hearing.

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 up.

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, and myself.

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 unsuccessful.

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 purposes.

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 that.

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 age.

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 23.

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 failed.

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 smash.

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 March.


The last application was that of a pig breeder, aged 27, single, passed C3, for whom Mr. P. H. Stephenson appeared.

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 blind.

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 each

Have you any young pigs?—Yes, I had litter came last week, and I am expecting another to-night.

Do you collect the swill yourself?—Yes; if I did not do so it would probably be thrown into the gutter.

Conditional exemption was granted whilst the man is solely engaged in pig breeding.


A field service postcard sent to Mrs John J Swainston of 69 Clifton Street (renamed Curzon Road in 1922), St. Annes. He informs her that he had received her letter and parcel.

A field service postcard sent to Mrs John J Swainston of 69 Clifton Street (renamed Curzon Road in 1922), St. Annes. He informs her that he had received her letter and parcel.

A field service postcard sent to Mrs John J Swainston of 69 Clifton Street (renamed Curzon Road in 1922), St. Annes. He informs her that he had received her letter and parcel.


A field service postcard sent by "Frank" to George Sanderson, "The Willows" 7 Headroomgate Road, St. Annes informing him that he had received his parcel. George Sanderson was the headmaster of Heyhouses School.

A field service postcard sent by "Frank" to George Sanderson, "The Willows" 7 Headroomgate Road, St. Annes informing him that he had received his parcel. George Sanderson was the headmaster of Heyhouses School.

 A field service postcard sent by "Frank" to George Sanderson, "The Willows" 7 Headroomgate Road, St. Annes informing him that he had received his parcel. George Sanderson was the headmaster of Heyhouses School.