WW1 Military Appeal Tribunals

In Gloucestershire between 1916-1918 over 40 Local Military Tribunals heard up to 100,000 appeals from men who were called up for military service. The Local Tribunals that relate to men in the Forest of Dean were held at Awre, Coleford, East Dean, Gloucester Rural, Lydney, Newent, Newnham, Tewkesbury Rural, West Dean and Westbury on Severn.

The files relating to these Local Appeals have not survived (except for Thornbury). The authorities ordered that they should be destroyed in 1921.

However once a Local Tribunal had made a decision either the man or the military could appeal to one of 5 County Appeal Tribunals which were held at Bristol, Cheltenham, Gloucester, Lydney and later Stroud.

Over 10,000 appeals were heard at County level and brief details were recorded and have survived. The records are at Gloucestershire Archives (ref. D570/1/2) and details include the name of the applicant, their address, occupation, reason for appealing and the date the case was heard.

About 720 of these County Appeal cases relate to men from the Forest of Dean that have been indexed. The details that are recorded stating why a man (or the military) was appealing can be revealing. They were recorded as codes, for example R (a) meant an appeal as the man was undertaking work of National Importance. Perhaps the most interesting grounds for appeal was code R (f) which was for being a Conscientious Objector.

The other detail that is of use for further research is the date of the appeal. The County Appeal Tribunals were reported in detail in the local papers usually a day or so after the Tribunal has been held.

In the Gloucester Journal dated 17 June 1916 a man was described as a Master Painter & Decorator from Cinderford and then further details reported about why he should not be called up, but the one piece of information they did not report was the man’s name. With the details from this index the man can be identified as Charles Parry of the High St, Cinderford.

There was also an opportunity to appeal the decision of the County Appeal Tribunal to the Central Tribunal that was held in London, but only with their consent. 266 cases from Gloucestershire were sent to the Central Tribunal of which 10 were by men from the Forest Area. The only information that was recorded was the date of the appeal at the Central Tribunal and their decision.

Our thanks go to David Drinkwater for his research.

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