Look at military legal records

This guide was last updated in 2009

During both wars, tribunals were held for appeals against conscription, but all records, bar some from the Midlands, have sadly been destroyed.

Records of court-martials, including 35 objectors who were sentenced to death in the First World War, are still intact. For objectors compulsorily enlisted in the Army in the First World War, the National Archives holds about 40 per cent of the records of soldiers who never rose to officer status.

The PPU also has tribunal and court-martial statements on a small number of individuals from both wars. It is also worth noting that tribunals were usually reported in the local press.

If you know the area where the individual you are researching was living, a visit to the relevant local reference library is worthwhile. If you have a relative who was of military age and was not enlisted, or served as a non-combatant, you could search these tribunals to see if they appeared.

The local newspaper reports provide some very interesting insights, as not all who appeared at the tribunals were conscientious objectors – many were the sole providers for large families or small businessmen who feared that a period in the military would destroy their livelihood or homes.

 

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