The National Records of Scotland (NRS) has announced the release of Scottish Military Service Appeals Tribunal records.
The NRS says: “Now available to search on ScotlandsPeople are 7,977 index entries relating to the Appeal cases of 5,820 men seeking exemption from military service between 1916 and 1918. Fully searchable by name, address, grounds, and occupation, the index is free to search, offering access to a little-known series of records which are of importance to family and military historians alike. Each record is a full colour facsimile of the Appeal case documents, and for an introductory period, are only 10 credits (2.33GBP) to view.
“The index for the Military Service Appeals Tribunal Records is free to search. Images are chargeable and can be viewed for 10 credits per document until 3 December 2015, and will cost 20 credits per document thereafter.
What are the Military Service Appeals Tribunal records?
“The Military Service Tribunal system was set up under the Military Service Act 1916, which set down the terms for mandatory military service and came into force on 2 March 1916. The new Military Service Act required all adult males, aged 18-41, to register for military service unless they were married, widowed with children, serving in the Royal Navy, a minister of religion, or working in a reserved occupation.
“From 1916, volunteers and conscripted men seeking exemption from military service could apply to Tribunals for temporary, conditional or permanent exemption. The Military Service Appeals Tribunal Records cover the Local Tribunal areas of Edinburgh, the Lothians and the Borders. Other chance survivals exist, including papers from the Ross, Cromarty and Sutherland (Lewis Section) Appeal Tribunal, which are preserved as part of Stornoway Sheriff Court records.
Grounds for Appeal
“The majority of appellants were not unwilling to fight, (many had attested voluntarily or even served), but were in a position where they were unable to serve on grounds of ill-health, medical exemption or hardship. In other cases, men were granted exemption where it was deemed to be in the interests of the local populace or in service of the war effort itself that these men remain in their civilian jobs.
“A minority of the cases were appeals made by conscientious objectors, those who were appealing against compulsory conscription on moral or political grounds. Most of the appeal cases were refused or dismissed, after which appellants had no choice but to carry out their service.
What can I learn from these records?
“Each set of case papers should include an appeal form, local tribunal application form and a notice of decision form which confirms the final decision of the Appeal Tribunal. The appeal application form gives the address, age and occupation in most cases. Some appeals papers include additional correspondence in support of the appeal.
“For some entries the appeal papers themselves do not survive, but related applications for medical re-examination have survived. This will be indicated in the relevant index entries. Applications for medical re-examination include the name of a person, address, occupation, age and the result of the examination.”