Turnbull, William

He was 21 in 1916

42, Dowanhill Road Catford,

William Turnbull was single and worked as a clerk in the civil service. His father’s address was 22, Coquet Terrace, Heaton, Newcastle on Tyne.

Conscientious Objection during the First World War
His appearance before the Lewisham Military Service Tribunal was reported in the Lewisham Borough News and the Kentish Mercury March 10, 1916. He said he was a Plymouth Brethren and believed that the taking of human life was incongruous with Christianity. The Chairman, Mr Mead, asked William if he was quite sure that one of their tenets involved objection to military service, as he had read in an encyclopaedia that the movement had been started by a number of military officers. Other members of the tribunal joined in the quizzing. Mr. E. Ball said that there was one very prominent Brethren in the neighbourhood whose son had been killed. William was told that under the term Plymouth Brethren there were a great many sects who had no communication with one an other. Mr Mead asked William if he was a "Darbyite" to which he replied he was commonly called one, he also said that he was willing to enlist for non-combatant service. When Mr Harry, the Military Representative asked him if he would do as the law on Conscription directs, William replied “I must obey the law”. Mr Harry then opposed his being granted a non-combatant certificate but the Chairman, Mr Mead said that this last answer was in his favour.

War Service
He was conscripted into the Non-combatant Corps at Camberwell on 15 June 1916 and served in the 4 Eastern Company.

After the War


Cyril Pearce, University of Leeds, Pearce Register of British Conscientious Objectors
Lewisham Borough News March 10, 1916
The Kentish Mercury March 10, 1916

Ann O'Brien, Volunteer at Lewisham Local History and Archives Centre, May, 2014.

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