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Business  First—Conscience——,

At the Leicestershire Appeal Tribunal on Saturday, before Alderman T. Cope and other gentlemen.

A Kibworth Beauchamp draper and clothier, aged 35, married, with two children, appealed against the decision of the  Market Harborough Rural Tribunal, who had granted him to February 28th (final.)    Applicant said he was a "One man business," and had a large amount of money now owing to him,  and which if called up he would be unable to collect. He also stated "All through my life I have tried to be a follower of Christ and a Christian, and I have a conscientious objection to all military service.  I consider human life to be sacred, and under no circumstances would I take the same. These views I have held all my life. I have been a Nonconformist local preacher, a teacher in the Sunday School, and will ever serve my principles, whatever happens.  I am quite willing to do work of national importance as a substitute, or go on the land, or do any reasonable work except that of a military character.  

The Chairman:   Do you wish to add anything?                                            
Applicant: Nothing except that I have two letters—one from the Minister of the Church to which I belong, and another from the deacons with respect to my sincerity of conscience.
The Chairman: What religion do you belong to?                                                                       
Applicant: The Congregationalists.                

The Chairman: I see you have had three periods of exemption by the Harborough Tribunal. On what grounds did you make your applications for exemption?
Applicant:  On business grounds, as the owner of a one man business I felt perfectly safe under Mr. Walter Long's scheme. I have, however, always held my conscientious views, and I appeal on them to-day to prove my sincerity.

The Chairman: You apparently did not bring forward your conscientious scheme until they refused further exemption.

Applicant: That is right.

The Chairman: Is not that peculiar. You might have mentioned it at first.

Applicant: I don’t think so. I thought I was safe under Mr. Long’s scheme, but I have always held conscientious views.

The Chairman: In Mr. Walter Long’s scheme you found conscientious objection put down as a ground of exemption.

Applicant: I felt I was safe. I have a widowed mother, a wife and two children to support, and if I leave my business I shall be practically bankrupt.

The Chairman: So you thought you would leave this as a last string to your bow.

Applicant: I have held these views all my life.

The Chairman: But the point is you did not put them forward until now.

Applicant: I did not think that I needed to, as I felt I had sufficient grounds. On the other hand I am not prepared to suffer for my conscience no matter what happens.

In answer to the Chairman, applicant said he did not belong to the Society of Friends.

Applicant handed up the two letters previously mentioned, one being from the Rev. Gwyliam Thomas (Pastor of the Kibworth Congregational Church).

The Chairman said applicant’s attitude was not one of the tenets of the Congregationalism he knew.

Applicant: I don’t believe Jesus Christ would take part in any military affairs, and therefore I can’t.

The Chairman: There are very good Christians who don’t hold your views.

Applicant: I agree but a conscience is given each man and I think I have a right for respect for my conscience. As a Christian man I feel Jesus Christ would not take part in military affairs and therefore I cannot.

A Member of the Tribunal: But David did.

Applicant: He came under the old Dispensation.

Answering the Chairman, applicant said he was passed for general service.

Major Wellsman: What do you consider you based your previous claims on?   ---- Business grounds.

Major Wellsman: And having disposed of your business claims you find you have a conscience.---- I have not disposed of my business claims, the Harborough Tribunal have done that.

Major Wellsman: Have the Harborough Tribunal had an opportunity of dealing with your conscientious claim? ---- No, for I did not bring them forward. They did not tell me it was final.

Major Wellsman: Why do you consider your business claim of more importance than your conscientious claim. Surely you would put your most important claim first? ----So far as the business claim was concerned I thought I was justified in bringing it forward.

Major Wellsman: It would not be unusual for a man to put his conscience before his business. Perhaps you don’t? --– Perhaps if you knew me as others do you would say different. It is not for you to judge me, Major Wellsman. Let those judge me who have known me for years.

Major Wellsman: You considered in this matter as regards your appeal your conscience was quite a secondary matter to your business. --– No, I did not.

The Chairman said the applicant’s appeal would be dismissed.

The Tribunal thought it an extraordinary thing that if applicant had such a clear and keen conscientious objection to military service he did not bring it forward at once.

Applicant: I shan’t go into the Army whatever happens.

The Chairman: You will take the usual course.

Applicant: I will.

The Chairman: I trust in everything you will behave like a Christian.

Market Harborough Advertiser.          

6th February 1917.


A  ''C.O.” Fined £2. An   Interesting " Medically Rejected " Question.

At Market Harborough Police Court yesterday (Monday), before Major Hopton in the chair), and Howard W. Symington, Esq.

Eli Bale, draper, aged 35 and married, of Kibworth Beauchamp, was brought up in custody charged with having failed to report him self for military service on February 15th.

Asked to plead, prisoner said he did not believe in military service.

Supt. Robertson stated he received the necessary papers from the Military and prisoner was apprehended that morning. Owing to the circumstances he felt it his duty to ask for a small fine to be inflicted. Prisoner undoubtedly knew his position and it was his duty to report at Market Harborough.

In answer to the Chairman, prisoner said his excuse was that he did not believe in military service. He believed the whole thing was from the devil and devilish, and as a Christian he could not take part in it.

The Chairman: You have never raised this point before?

Prisoner: Yes at the Appeal Court at Leicester. At Market Harborough I appealed on business grounds, feeling that I had good grounds for exemption. As for parading my religious views before the public I never thought of that. All along I have held the same views however I belong to the Congregationlists.

The Chairman: I am afraid your plea would have been of no use.

Later prisoner said he offered to go on the land or do work of national importance.

The Chairman said that was nothing to do with them. He had given them unnecessary trouble, for he knew perfectly well he had to come there if he did not present himself at headquarters, he would be fined 40s., and remanded to await an escort.

Joseph Linnett, stoker, of Kibworth Beauchamp, was brought up in custody on a similar charge, and pleaded not guilty. — Mr. E.F.Jeffries (Market Harborough) represented prisoner.

Supt. Robertson said when prisoner was arrested he produced a card which he said ex­empted him from military service.

Lieut.-Col. Sharman Goward, Recruiting  Officer at Market Harborough, admitted the man was given the card as being temporarily unfit simply on account of his being under stature. Since then, however, men previously under stature were liable for service. Prisoner received his calling-up papers on December 6, but returned them on December 8, saying he could not legally be called up. He came to see witness on December 9 at Market Harborough, and as a Medical Board was sitting then he expressed his willingness to be re-examined and was passed for general service.

He was sent further calling up papers, but he sent them back, and said any more notices he should send back unstamped.

Cross-examined by Mr. Jeffries as to whether, in view of the rejection card prisoner held, he was liable to be called up again, Col. Goward said Linnett was an attested man, and although he was temporarily unfit he was still liable for service if the regulations were altered as they now were, enabling them to call up men under 5ft. in height.

Prisoner, on oath, said when he took his papers back to Col. Goward on the Saturday he saw Mr. Trasler on Monday with regard to an appeal to the Harborough Rural Tribunal. Mr. Trasler said he did not think the Military held any right to call him up seeing he held a rejection card, and if he had seen him on the Saturday he should have advised him not to go up. The Recruiting Serjeant also said he did not think they could touch him unless there was a law passed by which rejected men could be called up. He admitted the Medical Board at Market Harborough passed him for general service, but they did not take his height.  He left their card on the table and would not bring it away after what Mr. Trasler had said.

Mr. Jeffries questioned whether a man be re-examined when he once had been rejected.

The Chairman said it had been held if a man submitted   himself for re-examination it certainly nullified previous examination.

Answering Supt. Robertson, prisoner said he never said he would not join up, and he certainly did not know one of his cards had been marked by the Military. “This man refuses to join up until he is fetched”.

Mr. Jeffries applied for the case to be adjourned, as he had only had his instructions half-an-hour previously and had had no time to look into the case.

The Bench granted an adjournment until today (Tuesday), bail being allowed, Mr. Johnson (Messrs. Johnson and Barnes, of Kibworth, prisoner's employers), consenting to act as surety.

Market Harborough Advertiser

13th March 1917.

Eli Bale, draper, brother of the photographer, Walter Bale, was a conscientious objector during WWI, and the following reports have been extracted from the local newspaper, the Market Harborough Advertiser. Apart from these two reports, no other mention is made in the press so we are unaware of what happened to Bale after March 1917.

The photograph, right, shows Eli Bale and his wife, Florence (Floss), standing in the door-way of his shop on High Street, Kibworth Beauchamp. The photograph was taken by his brother, Walter.

Eli Bale died in March 1943, aged 61, and is buried in an unmarked grave, plot A515, in Kibworth Cemetery. Florence is buried in a marked grave, A365.

Bale’s shop is now the village fish and chip shop.

Both extracts are published with the kind permission of the Record Office for Leicester, Leicestershire, and Rutland.