Nostalgia: 1916 Court: Detained under the Military Services Act

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At the North Riding Police Court, Scarborough before Mr F Baker (in the chair), and Mr CC Graham (the mayor) Robert Johnson, general dealer, described as of Spring Head Road, Hull, was charged with having failed to report himself for the purpose of joining the colours, at the Recruiting Office, Hull, on or since March 28th, 1916.

Johnson came under the Military Service Act, and it was the first case of this kind heard in Scarborough.

Johnson, described as a general dealer as above, goes about the country with a caravan and carts.

He denied the offence.

Inspector Boynton said that at noon on Monday he was on duty at East Ayton. Johnson was in company with others, they having a caravan and a pony and cart. He (the inspector) was aware they had been camping in the neighbourhood.

Witness asked to see Johnson’s registration card. This showed defendant was registered on some “ground” there. Defendant, in reply to questions by the inspector, said he was 25, and not married. Witness asked him if he was aware he was liable under the Military Service Act, and he replied that he had received no notice to that effect. Witness asked him if he had informed the Registration Officer at Hull of his change of address, and where he could be found. Defendant replied that he came away at a certain time - this was just about the time that his class was about to be called up, and he had not communicated to the Registration Officer his name and address. Witness took him into custody and informed the Recruiting Officer at Hull, who asked witness to detain him, as he was wanted under the Military Services Act. An escort had arrived that morning to receive the man after the magistrates had dealt with him.

Defendant told the Bench the reason he did not inform the Registration Officer of any change of address was that they were continually moving about - they had no settled address. He had thought that if he had sent any change of address in, he would be sending every week. He made enquiries “of the man who issued it to him,” and this man had said he did not know what defendant was to do. “I didn’t know,” concluded defendant, “what to do”.

The clerk: Did you see the Proclamation calling up the Reserves?

Defendant said he had not - he had heard about it, but he understood that was in regard to Lord Derby’s men. Had he (defendant) known he would have “attested.”

The Inspector: There was no need to attest. You come under the Military Service Act.

Defendant said had he known he would have gone.

The Inspector said defendant could be fined not less than 40s up to £25.

The magistrates imposed the lowest penalty they could, 40s, and defendant said he would pay.

Taken from horse’s head.

A young woman in court, evidently defendant’s sister, said defendant was taken away from his horse’s head, and he was needed to look after the horses.

The Inspector said there was another young man who could do that.

The young woman said that the police took defendant from his home (the caravan) from his horse’s head.

Johnson was then handed over to the escort.