During my internship at The National Archives, a part of my Masters in Public History at St Mary’s University, Twickenham, I have been analysing the Middlesex Military Service Appeal Tribunal Papers.
While there are several grounds from which exemption from Military Service could be granted, it is ground D which I find myself primarily interested in: that serious hardship would ensure if the man were called up for army service, owing to his exceptional financial or business obligations or domestic position. I became increasingly interested in what would be considered, by the tribunals, as genuine domestic hardship.
Here are three different cases which ended up at the Middlesex tribunal. All three were claiming exemptions on ground D and can be found in the Middlesex Military Service Appeal Tribunal Papers [MH 47]
A case of genuine domestic hardship
Joseph Benjamin was appealing for absolute exemption in the early part of 1917. Joseph had recently become a widower and consequently sole guardian of his two children, a girl aged seven and a boy aged five. He was appealing for exemption as he did not want to break up his home, leaving his children in the care of strangers.As well as this, he believed that he would better serve his country by remaining in his employment as a business man and thus continuing to pay his taxes.
Joseph’s position was indeed regarded by the tribunal as genuine domestic hardship and he was granted conditional exemption, provisional upon him becoming engaged in work of national importance, which needed to be approved by the tribunal. This Joseph promptly did, getting a job at the Ministry of Munitions store at Nine Elms Lane for 48 hours per week.
On 3 March 1917 his conditional exemption was approved after the conformation of his employment was supplied to and accepted by the tribunal. Continue reading »