29 May 1879
William M. Norris lived at 23a, Oaksford Avenue, Sydenham. He was 27 in 1916 was married with two children and worked as a watch and clock repairer. He was an Internationalist Socialist and a Co-operative Society Committeeman.
Conscientious Objection during the First World War:
His appearance before the Lewisham Military Service Tribunal was reported in the Lewisham Borough News on August 11, 1916 where he said that as an Internationalist Socialist he regarded all life as sacred and that he had the greatest horror of taking life or even maiming a man. His employer Mr. A. E Matthews, Kirkdale put forward a claim on business grounds saying that William was the only man left to carry on the clock repairs and winding, to which William added his objection was more on conscientious grounds. When asked would he accept a non-combatant certificate he said he would refuse it. Both applicants said they intended to appeal.
The Kentish Mercury reported on September 8, 1916 that they had appeared before the Appeals Tribunal, William’s employer appealed because part of his work was to wind and keep the clocks at the Sydenham Gas Works in order and that he could not do this alone on account of his eyes. William was asked if he regarded the winding of the clocks to be a matter of national importance to which he is reported as replying: “Not a tiny bit”. The case was adjourned for a week for William to be medically examined and for Mr. Matthews to find a replacement. It would appear, however, that the essential nature of his work might have been accepted and he may have been allowed to continue in it, or he may have been held to be medically unfit for active service.
After the First World War:
Cyril Pearce, University of Leeds, Pearce Register of British Conscientious Objectors
Lewisham Borough News
Ann O'Brien, Volunteer Lewisham Local History and Archives Centre
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