Friday 10 March 1916
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While there were no reports of Recruiting Tribunals this week, there was plenty of comment on them and the men who were appealing against being conscripted. “Wanderer” gave over his whole weekly column, starting with a quote from Robert Burns: O, wad some Power the giftie gie us, To see oursels as others see us! It wad frae mony a blunder free us An’ foolish notion. ‘His prayer has been answered in a manner never imagined either by the poet or his readers. The Military Tribunal has come and all over the country is busy making us see ourselves, not as we see ourselves, which is apt to be prejudicial, but as others see us. Motives ‘The revelation has been marvellous and men today know things about themselves which in their wildest dreams they had never imagined; which in fact they had no desire to know’ After speculating on young men’s motives for appealing against conscription, he goes on: ‘So our hero leaves the Court sorrowful, like the young man in the bible who had great possessions, for our hero also had a great possession, or rather he thought
he had – he actually believed himself to be an “indispensable” and lo and behold the Tribunal tells him is nothing of the sort, that the country can get on quite well at home without him and that he must go and do his bit, even if it means hardship in many ways. ‘He must go and fight and thus prevent, so far as he can, the overwhelming hardship, the calamity, of the victory of the Hun.’ Indispensables “Wanderer” also has some scathing words for companies who are appealing on behalf of ‘indispensable’ workers. ‘If you value me so highly, if I am absolutely necessary to you; if without me you cannot carry on your business – how can you reconcile all this with my magnificent remuneration of 30s a week and with your refusal to give me an advance the last time I asked you?’ After listing some of the more feeble reasons cited at Tribunals up and down the land, he concludes: ‘So they come and so they go – much amusing, much sad, much incomprehensible. ‘We think of our splendid lads who went without any coaxing or making of excuses, many of whom have made the supreme sacrifice – we think of
them and we rub our eyes and wonder if these “indispensables” appearing before the Tribunal with any excuse whatever (I do not refer to those whose excuse is worthy of every consideration and sympathy) are of the same country – they can’t surely be of the same breed – as they? ‘The Tribunals are trying to make us “see ourselves as others see us” and so freeing us from “foolish notions” – they are showing us our duty and furnishing us with a conscience which will impel many who otherwise would not, to go and take their stand as “indispensables” in the ranks, and so are worthy of praise.’
F W L Butterfield, the prospective Unionist Candidate for Shipley made clear his opinion of conscientious objectors during a speech at a smoking concert at the Unionist Club. ‘All citizens should be proud to serve their country under the Military Service Act even if for one reason or another they had failed to volunteer. Cowards ‘He did not except the so-called conscientious objector for although there were, no doubt, some genuine cases who objected to combatant service, yet they were a small number and the conscientious objection clause should not be made the clearing house through which the cowards of the country could pass on to comfort and safety while the more worthy men of the community were suffering every kind of hardship and pouring out their blood for the common welfare. ‘It behoved all military representatives and recruiting tribunals to see that that class of persons did not get through on a foolish protest.’ His view was supported by an editorial in the Shipley Times & Express who added: ‘We agree with Mr Butterfield in the opinion that the men who are genuine in their objection to combatant service are very few in number. ‘Many of the applicants for exemption under the conscientious objection clause of the Military Service act have not stood the test of cross-examination before the Tribunals. ‘What they call conscientious objections to fighting were wretched excuses for shirking their duty at a momentous crisis in their country’s history.’
You are not as indispensable as you think
Conscientious objection can’t be doorway to comfort and safety
‘This is a photograph of Nurse M Atchison, who is a member of the St John Ambulance Association and has been in a military hospital at Leicester since October last ‘A zealous worker for the Idle Parish Church and Sunday School, she is the elder daughter of the late Mr J L S Athison and of Mrs Atchison, Fernbank, Leeds Road, Thackley.’
A zealous worker
The Shipley Times & Express was clearly unimpressed by the Baildon Tribunal who ‘do not evidently desire to have turned on to them the searchlight of public opinion. ‘A reporter who attended last Thursday’s meeting in the ordinary way was requested to retire until they had discussed the question whether they should throw meetings open to the Press and the Pressman was subsequently informed that the sittings were to be held in camera until further notice.’
Disinfect houses to stop spread of tuberculosis
Shipley Insurance Committee was seeking to persuade the District Council to disinfect houses ‘which are or have been occupied by persons suffering from tuberculosis.’ And they received support in an editorial: ‘This is now coming to be looked upon as an important subject and as one which has a direct bearing on the spread of the disease. ‘We shall await with interest the outcome of the conference. Let us hope that the decision arrived at will not be affected by the question of cost. Money used in an attempt to wipe out this scourge will be money wisely spent.’
Henry Boon, a 55-year-old pedlar of no fixed address, was committed for 14 days for stealing a purse containing £1 0s 7½d from Annie Corbey of 21 Clifton Place, Shipley. The court heard that Miss Corbey had put her purse, which also contained a postage stamp, on the mantelpiece and gone upstairs. Shortly afterwards she heard the door open below and on calling out received no answer. On looking out of the window she saw the prisoner leaving the house, a fact corroborated by a neighbour. When arrested the prisoner was found to have on him a postage stamp along with his pedlar’s certificate but claimed he was innocent. ‘I never saw a pound note in my life,’ he said.
Postage stamp helps convict pedlar
Warning of fewer pages in “Express”
The lead editorial of the week was on the fact that the government had announced that paper supplies would be restricted to two-thirds of the amount that had been available in 1914. The reason was to free shipping from having to carry paper so it could concentrate on other, more important cargo. ‘This is a very serious matter for newspapers – already very badly hit. It means a compulsory and immediate cutting down of the number of pages.’ They warned that in the next few weeks the “Express” would have to be cut from 12 to 8 pages for the remainder of the war. No serial story ‘We would much rather have given – as we had intended doing in the near future – a greater number of pages than fewer but, of course, the action of the Government may leave us no choice. If we cannot obtain the paper we cannot give the pages. ‘So far, however, as the contents of the “Express” are concerned, the change, if forced upon us by the authorities will not materially affect the news and main features. ‘We shall have to discontinue giving a serial story and the fashion and gardening columns will have to go, but in all other respects the paper will practically be the same.’