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’.


No Comments

Start the ball rolling by posting a comment on this page!

Add a comment about this page

Your email address will not be published.