faulogo chinese textFAU China Convoy Reunion Group

Conscientious Objection

The Tribunals
Tribunal Decisions
Public Opinion
Tribunal Decisions
Tribunals arrived at one of four decisions: to reject the application for exemption, to grant unconditional exemption, to grant exemption conditional upon their taking up a certain type of work, or to determine that the applicant should undertake military service in a non-combatant capacity. Of the approximately 61,000 individuals who registered for exemption to the end of 1948, roughly 30% had their applications rejected, 5% were granted unconditional exemption, 38% granted conditional exemption and 27% required to undertake non-combatant service within the armed forces.

The legislation allowed applicants the right to appeal the decisions of their Tribunal which were then heard at Appellate Tribunals. At these around 10% had the original rejection of their application overturned.

In making a decision to grant conditional exemption the Tribunals could only direct applicants to seek specific areas of work; they could not compel those areas of work to accept those directed to them. Many potential employers, notably in agriculture, refused to take on objectors, requiring some granted conditional exemption to seek engagement elsewhere.

Those objectors who became members of the FAU had either received unconditional or conditional exemptions; some had been granted exemption conditional upon their being accepted into the Unit. The FAU, however, reserved the right to reject any applicants they deemed unsuitable and some individuals had to seek other employment.

Similar problems arose for some of those directed to undertake non-combatant roles within the services as opportunities, particularly in the Royal Army Medical Corps, were quickly over-subscribed. Some found other roles including a small number of objectors who volunteered for bomb disposal work. This illustrates that their stance was not based on a lack of courage but on an objection to taking up arms.

In some cases exemption was granted conditional upon the objector continuing in the previous employment if it was deemed ‘of national importance’. Yet many such objectors found that their employers were not prepared to continue employing them. This happened in many Local Authorities, some of which were particularly loath for objectors to continue in their previous role as teachers.