Sheffield Evening Telegraph – Saturday 27 July 1918
Charge Against Barmbro’ Checkweighman
Liability for Service.
A charge of breach of the Defence of the Realm Act was brought in the Doncaster West Riding Court to-duy. when Thomas Williams, check weighman, Goldthorpe, was summoned for an offence.
Captain Okell appearing for the prosecution and Mr. A. Neal, of Sheffield, for the defence.
Captain Okell said the prosecution was brought by the Director of the Ministry of National Service. Some time in May of this year the Ministry required certain number of colliers for military service, and it was agreed between them and the Miners’-Union that certain pits should provide certain quotas, and ballots were arranged at the collieries. Thirty men were required from the Barmbro’ Mine.
A ballot took place on May 16. Defendant was one of the men balloted for and he drew a low number, which made him liable for service. There was a rule that where 50 per cent, of the family of a man had joined the army he would be exempt and the next man in the ballot would be called up.
Defendant Williams was not eligible under this rule because he was married before November 2, 1915. Therefore his household was looked upon as a separate household. In the first place the Union of his colliery misunderstood the reading of that rule and first of all exempted all men where 50 per cent, of the family had gone, and Williams was exempted.
Captain Okell mentioned that Williams’ family had done extremely well. Four brothers were serving. One had been killed, leaving six children ; another had been missing since March; two others were in France. The husbands of three sisters were serving, and one had been killed. The youngest sister had two sons in the army.
On June 14 defendant applied to the local tribunal for exemption, but it was refused. He then appealed to the Appeal Tribunal Sheffield, and it was dismissed on July 5. and he was given until July 31 to report. He was called up on May 29 to report for service on June 6.
Continuing, Captain Okell said extra efforts seemed nave been made in order to obtain defendant’s release. A question was asked in Parliament by Mr. Snowdon, two letters were sent the Ministry of National Service from the checkweighman’s fund, and in neither of these cases had they been successful in obtaining consent.
He read a letter sent the President of the Checkweigh Fund to the Ministry of National Service asking for the release Williams, who was conducting negotiations for them, and in addition to being checkweighman was guardian of the poor for Bolton-on-Deame, member of -the Local Food Control Committee, and a member of the Board of Management of the Montagu Hospital. He referred to a letter that Williams sent a soldier named Corporal J. W. Cooper, of the West Yorks., who formerly worked at the. Barmbro’ pit, and who was not combed out but who joined up, so the prosecution alleged, voluntarily. In this letter Williams asked Cooper to send him a letter stating that joined up out of his turn so that (Williams) could be released, and suggesting a reply to the effect he (Cooper) was surprised hear that the secretary had not seen to his exemption, especially he (Cooper) joined up to release Williams. Cooper showed the letter to a soldier named Robson,who was previously employed at Manvers Main Colliery, and whose brother was manager, and at Cooper’s request Robson copied the letter as suggested for him.
Later Robson, who had retained the original letter, forwarded it to his brother, and it eventually found its Way to the Ministry of National Service.
The charge against the defendant was that he caused to be written a letter containing a false statement order to evade military service.
Evidence was called, and Captain Drabble, Barnsley, area recruiting official under the National Service, said they had not got their quota from the Barmbro’ Main Colliery yet, and he agreed that before the lists were sent in, arrangement, substitution could be agreed upon.
Mr. Neal for the defence, submitted that there was no case, and said that when the first official document went in defendant was exempted. He had evidence that Cooper joined up as substitute for Williams, and he added that the feeling m the district was to the danger point, not in that colliery only, if that men were taken into the it was a breach faith which would be resisted.
Capt. Okell: The point not whether this man should into the army.
Mr. Neal said it had not been proved that a false statement had been made.
The Chairman (General Bewicke-Copley) said the Bench ruled that there was evidence of a false, statement.