Otley, Karle Colin

Dates:
He was born in 1890 in Lewisham and died 31 December 1956 in Hammersmith

Address:
81 Rushey Green, Catford
(Note he has two entries on the Lives of the First World War IMW site, one gives 20, Almeric Road, Battersea Rise, as his address, but he was not there in 1916, the other shows him as K.E Otley of Lewisham but gives little or no detail).

He was aged 25 in 1916 and worked as a clerk and a decorators' labourer and was single. His motivation for refusing military service was political and he was a member of the ILP and the Dulwich Branch of the No-conscription fellowship. He described himself as an international socialist to the Greenwich Police Court Magistrate and quoted Tom Paine on the world being his country.

Conscientious Objection during the First World War:
Karle was arrested as an absentee and his appearance before the Greenwich Police Court was reported in the Kentish Mercury on 7 April 1916. His case was heard on 6 April, 16 when he was fined £10 and handed over to the military. He told the court that he had not appeared before the Military Service Tribunal (MST) because if he had he would have logically been bound to accept its decision. He also told the court that he was an International Socialist and a member of the No-Conscription Fellowship and would not have been granted exemption by the MST.

He was drafted into the 10 Royal Sussex. On 14 April, 1916 he refused to join a squad and was Court Martialled at Shoreham Barracks and sentenced to be imprisoned. There is a extract from the Report of his District Court-Martial dated May 2, 1916 in the Dulwich NCF leaflet of July 1917

War Service:
At the Central Tribunal at Wormwood Scrubs on 15 August, 1916 he was held to be a genuine conscientious objector and referred to the Home Office Scheme. From 8 August, 1916 he undertook road making at Denton Newhaven, but was returned to his regiment and then to Pentonville Prison on 13 March, 1917. He was later sent to Dartmoor on the 28 August 1917, again under the terms of the home office scheme

After the First World War:
After the war he married Elsie Carr in 1928 in Romford Essex and died died 31 December 1956 in Hammersmith

Source:
Cyril Pearce, University of Leeds, Pearce Register of British Conscientious Objectors
Kentish Mercury, April 7, 1916
Dulwich N-C.F What are Conscientious Objectors? July 1917 in the Cumbria Archive Centre ref:D/Mar/4/97


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

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