Conscription - Military Service Tribunals
Posted by on January 01 1970 00:01:58

In late 1915 the British War Machine tired of the voluntary principle for military service and imposed consription. Each District Council (in the Stroud valleys Stroud Rural, Stroud Urban and Nailsworth Urban) was responsible for establishing a Military Service Tribunal to consider appeals against conscription and by March 1916 these tribunals were meeting on a regular basis to consider applications.

The records of the Tribunals have not been preserved (there was a directive from Government in 1920's to destroy the records) and the only source for the hearings is the local newspapers. Only the Stroud News (Conserviatve) is available locally and it had a clear difference in the reporting of concientious objectors  and cases where exemption is sought on othe grounds where the person is not named. In these latter cases the extent of detail provided varies, in the application to the Stroud Rural Tribunal by Wycliffe College for the Headmaster to be exempted it is obvious who the hearing was about. In other cases the level of detail provides no information on the man but provides information on the business they worked in some cases the firm being named and in others the firm being able to be assumed from the information provided.

In the case of CO's there is usually what appears to be  verbatum report of the hearing. Perhaps this approach was part of the Stroud News appraoch to supporitng the war. In "Topics of the Week" which rants during March 1916 "We have little patience with the average claims for exemption on the plea of "conscience" that come before the Military Service Tribunals. The man who sasy he would not lift a finger to defend his own wife, or mother, or children from defilement of the a German has no concience of any sort ot trouble him, and he ought to be transferred to the first line trenches with te least possible delay"

The members of the Tribunals was fixed by each District Council and was required to include a Military Representative.  Leiutenant J Wood (who was also a Nailsworth Urban Councillor) served as the military representative on all three local tribunals.