The local newspapers regularly reported on the proceedings of the Bexhill Tribunal, often recording the event word for word. Here is a sample of some of the Tribunals.
From the “Bexhill-on-Sea Observer” Saturday, May 26, 1917.
A sitting of the Bexhill Tribunal took place on Wednesday afternoon at the Town Hall, before Alderman F. Bond, J. P. (in the chair), the Mayor (Alderman J. B. Wall, J. P.), Alderman J. A. Paton, J. P., Alderman J. Gibb, Councillor A. G. Wells, Mr. W. H. Croucher, and Mr. C. Veness; with the Town Clerk (Mr. T. E. Rodgers). Colonel Brooke was the military representative.
Are grapes luxuries?
H. Foord, a gardener, aged 32, who was very deaf and had been passed for Labour at home, said he was in the employment of a lady in De La Warr-road and looked after a kitchen garden and greenhouses. Mr Wilkes (from Messers Langham, Son, and Douglas, solicitors), said that Foord had been sent back by the military and told he would not be required.
Col Brooke pointed out that a man passed for Labour at home might release a better man.
Ford said he was looking after half an acre of vegetable garden.
The Town Clerk (reading) – “Owing to the scarcity of domestic servants, Foord assists generally in the house.” (Laughter).
Seeing that grapes were grown in the greenhouses, Colonel Brooke said that would require cost for heating; it was an absolute luxury.
Asked how long four tons of coal lasted for this, Foord replied, “as long as I have a fire.” (Renewed laughter).
Replying to the Chairman, Foord said he had gone up with the intention of joining but he was sent back. It appeared that the present application was by the employer, but there had been a personal claim as well.
Colonel Brooke said the employer was growing luxuries, and it was not a certified occupation.
The Chairman – Can you tell us anything about the need for these men?
Colonel Brooke – No, sir, but they are calling up many men of that class now.
The Tribunal dismissed the employers claim and adjourned the man’s application till the next Tribunal; meanwhile he must find whole-time work in agriculture.
From the “Bexhill-on-Sea Observer”, 4th March 1916.
Tribunal Meets Again
More Conscientious Objectors
God will defend us from the Germans
Another meeting of the Bexhill Recruiting Tribunal was held on Thursday at the Town Hall. The Mayor (Alderman F. Bond) presided, and other members present were the Deputy Mayor (Alderman John A. Paton), Alderman J. Gibb, Councillor A. G. Wells, Mr G. Veness, and Mr. W. H. Croucher, with the Clerk (Mr. T. E. Rodgers), the Assistant Clerk (Mr. C. Hayward), and Mr. H. L. Moysey who represented the military authorities.
Frederick Trueluck, 20, an ironmonger’s porter, employed by Mr P Hodgkinson, Western-road, applied for exemption on the ground of conscientious objection to military service. Applicant lives at The Cottage, Eastwood-road.
He stated that he was a follower of Jesus Christ, and did not believe in the taking of human life, holding that it was wholly contrary to the Scriptures.
The Clerk – When did you first declare yourself as a conscientious objector to war?
Applicant – When I was converted to God.
When was that? – About five years ago.
Do you consider it impossible for a Christian to be a soldier? – I am a Christian and my conscience is bound by the Word of God, which does not teach us to kill.
The Mayor – does it tell you that you should not protect yourself?
Applicant – it does not tell us to kill.
The Clerk – Do you raise any objection to defending yourself, if attacked? – In such case, the Lord Jesus Christ, who has saved me, would give me guidance.
Have you considered what would become of the country if the country were full of people like you? – It is only a supposition.
Do you recognise that at this moment the liberties and the privileges of Englishmen are at stake? – No answer.
Are they or are they not? – I cannot answer that question.
Can you answer this question, “What would happen to this country and this town if the Germans got here”? – As I said, that is supposition.
The Clerk – Not so much supposition.
Applicant – God is able to keep them out of it.
Has He kept them out of Belgian? – That we cannot say. We do not know the reason why He did not stop them going there.
The Mayor – And you would sit with hands folded and wait for somebody else to protect you, would you? – I believe in the Word of One who saved me.
The Clerk – Do you recognise that you are being protected day by day by our Navy and soldiers? – I admit the bravery of them but I look to the Lord Jesus Christ to save me.
You think it would be all right without the Navy and Army? – I admit the bravery of the Army and Navy, but God is able to do things.
The Mayor – And you think God would do everything for you? Would you like to see England without an Army and Navy to protect us? Would you vote for no Army or Navy on the supposition that Christ will protect you? – I don’t say about having the Army and the Navy, but, as I have said, God is able to look after us.
You would do away with the Army and the Navy and trust to God to protect the country? – I would myself.
You would? If that were allowed, there would not be much Bexhill would there? – No answer
The Clerk – How will the country go on if everyone thought like you? – If they were all like me, there would be no wars.
Do you object to ambulance work? – I cannot say I am willing to do it, but I don’t object to it
What form of religion are you attached to? – I gather with those known as Plymouth Brethren.
Where do you meet? – At the Gospel H, Wickham-avenue.
Do you realise at all that you could not be meeting there but for what our soldiers and sailors are doing? – I realise this, but God has kept the enemy away from us
Councillor Wells – When you say grace, do you ever say, “Thank God and the British Navy for this? You have to thank the British Navy as well as God. – No answer.
The Mayor – do you object to taking life of any kind? – Yes
Are you a vegetarian? – No
Then you do not object to taking life? – It is not the same as human life.
You take the lives of animals – They were meant for food.
The Mayor – The Local Tribunal cannot grant you an exemption, but they will recommend you for non-combatant service.
From the “Bexhill Chronicle” dated 30th September 1916
The members of the Local Tribunal were, on Wednesday, engaged for some hours in deciding the claims made for further exemption from service with H. M. Forces. The members present were: The Mayor (Alderman F. Bond, M. A., J. P.), The Deputy-Mayor (Alderman J. A. Paton, J. P.), Alderman J. Gibb, Councillor A. G. Wells, Mr. W. H. Croucher, and Mr C. Veness. Mr T. E. Rodgers, L. L. B. (Town Clerk), and Mr H. L. Moysey, I. S. O., (military representative) were also present.
“In the case of P. Alexander, of Alexander’s Fruit Stores, Station Road, the Town Clerk stated that the applicant had since the exemption was granted sold his business, and was now ready to go, but asked on conscientious grounds that he should be exempted from combatant service. The Town Clerk added that Mr Alexander had answered the written questions put to conscientious objectors, and had stated his case very fairly. It was to the effect that being a believer in the Lord Jesus Christ, and owning His authority, which forbade the taking of life, he desired to avail himself of the conscientious clause under the Military Service Act, having in no wise a desire to augment the suffering that was taking place by participating in the war, or to take another man’s life. He willingly sacrificed any personal loss he had suffered or might suffer, and if he had to undertake garrison duty abroad, for which he had been passed, he would do so if it did not entail taking another man’s life. He was otherwise perfectly free, and would obey any orders given him. – The Mayor suggested ambulance work as suitable. Could he not join the R. A. M. C.? – Mr Alexander said he had not made the application with a view of gaining more time or of saving himself from suffering; what he required to know was that when called upon to obey orders it would not involve taking another man’s life. – Mr Moysey said that the man was evidently a conscientious objector, and he should be put in a non-combatant branch of the service. – The Mayor: What non-combatant service would be available? – Mr Moysey: He is passed for “garrison duty abroad”, and it depends upon what branch he will be put in. If exemption is granted on the ground that it cannot take life, they cannot put him on sentry duty, for instance. – The Mayor: They can put him on ambulance duty. – Mr Alexander: I have no objection to that. – Mr Moysey: That is what Mr Alexander wants. – The Mayor (after consultation with his colleagues): The Tribunal will grant your application, and place you on non-combatant service. – Mr Alexander: Thank you.”