AN OFFICER C.O.

From The Tribunal September 27th 1917



This is a further update in a series of extracts from the No Conscription Fellowship’s journal, published in the UK between March 1916 and November 1918
For other extracts go to: http://nfpb.org.uk/tribunal



There was an interesting case at the Northhants County Appeals Tribunal last week, when a man who had relinquished a commission in the Army appealed as a conscientious objector.

The case was that of Joseph W. Sault (33), married, now acting as chief clerk at Woodford Halse for the Great Central Railway. The story he told was that he joined the Army at the outbreak of war, and secured a commission in the King’s Royal Rifles. At a church service a point of view that he had not heard put before led him to come out convinced that it was utterly incompatible for a Christian to take part in war. He told his colonel that even if shot or court-martialled, he could not help it. He could have sought medical grounds for relinquishing his commission, but did not do so. He relinquished his commission at the end of 1914, and Sir Samuel Fay, when he knew, allowed him to return to the G.C.R., on which railway he had been a student before the war. For his work at Woodford he received £175 a year.

The Chairman (Sir Ryland Adkins, M.P.) questioned applicant as to whether he now attempted to influence people against joining the Army or Navy. Appellant replied that he simply taught the Gospel, and had not endeavoured to exert influence against military service. He told people it was a matter in which they must be guided by God. He admitted he belonged to the Fellowship of Reconciliation. Sir Ryland said that some members of that body went very near the line.

Captain Cook urged that his information was that appellant was a pernicious influence in Woodford, and asked that he should, at any rate, be removed from the district. Appellant said he had preached in two or three chapels in the district, but denied having exerted influence, although his views were known, and his example might have been noticed.

A minister from Leicester testified to the genuineness of the appellant’s convictions, and argued that the question of pernicious influence was a matter for the Defence of the Realm Act. To this Sir Ryland dissented, holding that they were entitled to examine whether appellant was conscious of the necessary restrictions placed on all Englishmen with regard to expression of views.

Appellant, after further questions, said he was quite willing to change the district, and to accept a lower salary.

In adjourning the case for a month for appellant to find work of national importance at a financial sacrifice, Sir Ryland said the Tribunal did not wish to shut appellant’s mouth; but they asked him to consider whether he could not forego to addressing meetings or services, and devote the whole of his time to national services such as railway work, for which he was specially qualified.

Appellant agreed to give the matter his consideration.

dove..