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The following is the experience of Mr. H. Gortem-
On Saturday, July 20, 1916, Selwyn Hayes, H. D. Hobart and myself, having completed a sentence of 119 days at Wandsworth Detention Barracks, were due for release. We were called before the Commandant separately, and he told us that he had received a letter from the War Office, and that two alternatives were open to him. He could either send us back to our depots and we should probably, on disobeying orders, get another sentence of 18 months, or we might be released on furlough for an indefinite period, provided we promised three things, vis.:
1) That when called upon we would appear before the Central Tribunal, the Army Authorities having asked that body to investigate our cases, if satisfied of the bona-fides of our convictions, to ask us to do work of national importance.
The three of us made if perfectly clear that the only work of national importance we were prepared to undertake would be of a reconstructive character. In reply to that, the Commandant stated that it was impossible for him to decide what would be considered work of national importance by that body, but that such questions must be settled between ourselves and the Tribunal.
2) We were to give our names and permanent addresses, and
3) Promise that in the event of the Tribunal rejecting our claims we would report at our depots.
We acceded to the above conditions, though we made it perfectly clear that in the case of reporting at our depots we could not obey military orders,
We were then released at three o’clock.
At two o’clock an escort had called for us, consisting of a sergeant and one man. I asked the escort if they had called for us, and the sergeant replied “Yes,” and were taking us back to Hounslow. We asked the corporal in charge of us at the time whether any alteration had been made to the Commandant’s instructions. He replied: “There is something special in your case,” and asked the sergeant of the escort to wait.
We then had to wait until the Commandant arrived, which was about 2.45. The Commandant handed a letter to the escort, whose scruples were satisfied, the letter being to the effect that we had been granted indefinite furlough, as related above.
The escort accompanied us to the gate; we shook hands with them, and departed.