draft:military-service-tribunals

How well did the Lewisham and Deptford Military Service Tribunals administer the Military Service Acts?

A large scale study would be needed to discover how fairly all those appearing before the Lewisham tribunal felt they had been treated. As early as 16 November, 1915, in a letter to the editor of the Times, "Watchful" of Forest Hill S.E warned that the tribunal should be submitted to the strictest surveillance to prevent it favouring their fellow trades or professional men who, "unwilling to bear their share of the burden of the war", made appeals on behalf of employees eligible for the Army, but whom they wished to retain. From March 1916 onward, grumblings by applicants appealing on grounds other than conscience and by their employers, who were often hard pressed to find workers, were frequently reported in the press, although those grumbling were usually careful to express their belief in the military effort and deny being "slackers". At times the decision making of the Lewisham tribunal seems extremely harsh, as in the case of 18 year old George Quinn, appealing on compassionate grounds and accompanied by his mother. George had already lost 3 brothers and a brother-in-law, when it was reported that despite recognising his mother's sacrifice a tribunal member coldly noted "There are two other sons", one member carelessly managed to imply the mother's concern was with regard to George's wage and their reported discussion was around the length of temporary exemption they were willing to allow.

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