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You like Tea? No Reason You Can't Fight then.

Discussion in 'Military History' started by GRW, Oct 27, 2016.

  1. GRW

    GRW Pillboxologist WW2|ORG Editor

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    Sounds about right.
    "Military tribunals quizzed people about their tea-drinking habits in a bid to send them to fight in the First World War, a new exhibition has revealed.
    While many would view tea as a cornerstone of British culture, admitting to drinking it was deemed by tribunals to be a sign of hypocrisy and cowardice if a person was a conscientious objector.
    It appeared that the tribunals tried to argue that as a taxed good, drinking tea was a contribution to the war effort.
    Thousands of conscientious objectors refused to perform military service, usually on moral or religious grounds, as conscription laws enlisted 2.5 million extra British troops from 1916 onwards.
    By March 1916, the British Government was desperately short of soldiers, conscription was introduced and all able-bodied men, aged between 18 and 41, were ordered to join the war effort.
    To be exempted from the fighting, conscientious objectors had the task of publicly proving to an often hostile tribunal that it was conscience and not cowardice that spurred their refusal to fight.
    The only others who could be exempted were the sole carers of dependants.
    Papers featured in a new exhibition at St John's College at the University of Cambridge reveal that tribunals asked questions about tea-drinking habits in an attempt to undermine and ridicule people who applied to prove their conscientious objection.
    Francis P White was a 23-year-old undergraduate at St John's College in 1916, and he was a conscientious objector on religious grounds.
    He kept a diary and collected press clippings, including one from the Cambridge Weekly News, 1916, which reports on his own hearing along with those of three other students from St John's.
    All four men had already been granted exemption from combative service, but the military was appealing against the decision on the grounds that they were not 'bona fide conscientious objectors'.
    Bizarrely, the crux of the argument seems to have rested on whether or not they drank tea.
    As a taxed good, consuming tea was seen as a contribution to the war effort, which, for the tribunal, equated to 'providing money for someone else to fight'."
    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3878774/When-drinking-tea-meant-COWARD-military-tribunals-grilled-conscientious-objectors-drinking-habits-bid-send-World-War.html#ixzz4OJq89cQ3
     
    Mutley likes this.
  2. belasar

    belasar Court Jester Staff Member

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    Your British tax pounds at work!
     
  3. GRW

    GRW Pillboxologist WW2|ORG Editor

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    Seems reasonable! :p :rolleyes:
     
  4. OpanaPointer

    OpanaPointer I Point at Opana Staff Member Patron   WW2|ORG Editor

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  5. GRW

    GRW Pillboxologist WW2|ORG Editor

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    I did, yes. Superb stuff. Got the originals myself.
     
  6. Skipper

    Skipper Kommodore

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    So true, the same goes for tabacco, it"s bad but it brings up taxes. At least tea is good for your health.
     
  7. KodiakBeer

    KodiakBeer Member

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  8. Coder

    Coder Member

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    The Daily Mail can always be relied upon to get at least one fact wrong. The tribunals before which applicants for exemption from military service appeared in WW1 were designated in the Military Service Act 1916 as Military Service Tribunals, not Military Tribunals. The distinction is not mere pedantry: "Military Tribunal" connotes a tribunal set up by the military, comprising military personnel, for military purposes. The WW1 tribunals were set up under the Act by the civilian Parliament, which provided that tribunal members were to be appointed by civilian local authorities - borough, urban district and rural district councils - and comprise civilians, receiving applications from civilians for exemption from military service, on the various grounds provided under the Act.

    It is true that the Army was empowered to appoint a Military Representative to attend Tribunal hearings, but he (or extremely rarely she) was a "party" to the Tribunal, there to oppose the Applicant, not a member of the Tribunal sitting in judgement on the Applicant.

    As to the alleged relationship between tea drinking and resistance to military service, it was by no means the only bizarre line of argument pursued by Military Service Tribunals. Another was insistence that at age 18 an applicant was "too young" to have a conscience, with the unstated implication that age 18 was not too young to be sent into bonded labour at literal risk of life and limb, not to mention engagement in risking the lives and limbs of equally young men from other places, equally forced into grisly bonded labour.
     

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