Spencer, Albert (1890-)
'Conscience or Funk?'
Albert Spencer was 26, and living in Alvenor Street, Ilkeston, Derbyshire when he was conscripted in 1916. He worked as a twisthand in a lace factory, and his father was a coal miner.
Albert claimed exemption from military service 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’.