Metzner, Albert Edward

Albert Edward was 33 in 1916

He lived at 186 Brownfield Road, Catford, Albert was single and helped support his 68 year old widowed mother Jessie. The 1911 census shows her living nearby at 159 Brownhill Road Catford, together with her two daughters Adeline and Ethel and his brother Arthur Robert who was also a conscientious objector.

Albert was a Seventh-day Adventist who worked as a missionary tract distributor and was in training for the ministry, he was also a cabinet maker.

Conscientious Objection during the First World War
Both brothers submitted written applications from Glasgow to the Lewisham Tribunal and both the Lewisham Borough News and Kentish Mercury reported their claim in April 1916. Albert and Arthur claimed conscientious objection on the grounds that they were Seventh-day Adventists. Albert stating that as a Christian he could not take the life of a fellow creature and quoted Eph. v.12 and 2 Cor. x.3 and 4 in support. Both also stated that they believed that they were as equally entitled to exemption as were ministers of religion or officers of the Salvation Army.

They also stated that they were strict observers of the Sabbath from Friday to Saturday and knew of co-religious who had been punished for refusing to obey orders in the Army. The Chairman said that on the evidence in their application the Tribunal would grant them non-combatant certificates. When their representative said he did not think that this would satisfy them and they could always appeal, the tribunal members commenced quoting from the New Testament to uphold their belief both in the case for war and that Christ taught that work could be done on the Sabbath, if essential, and said that the brothers should "render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar's". Mr Harry, the Military Representative, backed by the Chairman and tribunal members then threatened to press for their application to be disallowed if they refused non-combatant certificates.

War Service:
Albert accepted enlistment into the Non-Combatant Corps on the same day as his brother, 19 June, 1916 at the Camberwell recruiting office and served with the the 4 Eastern and later the 2 Western Companies.

After the First World War

Cyril Pearce, University of Leeds, Pearce Register of British Conscientious Objectors
Lewisham Borough News 21 April, 1916 page 6 cols 2 & 3
Kentish Mercury 21 April, 1916 page 3 cols 2 & 3

Ann O'Brien, Volunteer, Lewisham Local History and Archives Centre, June 2015

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