Albert Spencer

'Conscience or Funk?'

By Jill Barber

Albert Spencer was 26, and living in Alvenor Street, Ilkeston when he was conscripted in 1916. He claimed exemption on conscientious grounds, and had to face the Ilkeston military service tribunal. It must have been a daunting experience. Presiding over the tribunal was the Mayor, Mr J A Macdonald. The others on the panel were Aldermen Shakespeare, A Henshaw, H Moss, Mr F P Sudbury, and Rev J E Dallimore, who was the military representative.

Albert told the tribunal that 'he could not take human life, as he belonged to a Primitive Methodist Bible Class, and all his life he had been brought up in a Christian home and Sunday School. He could not kill anyone.'

Alderman Shakespeare: 'Is it conscience or is it funk?'

Albert Spencer: 'My objection is that it is wrong to kill.'

The Mayor: 'You did not get that from the Bible.'

Albert Spencer: 'The Bible says thou shalt not kill.'

The Mayor: 'The Bible makes it clear that there are rights and liberties to be defended with their lives.'

Albert Spencer: 'It is more than I could do to would or kill anyone.'

His appeal was rejected.

The report in the local newspaper was headed: Conscience or Funk? - Objectors at Ilkeston - 'Take the Body but keep the soul'.


This page was added by Jill Barber on 24/02/2014.