Kirriemuir Military Tribunals

Kirriemuir Military Tribunals

Military Service Tribunals were bodies formed by the burgh and district councils to hear applications for exemption from conscription into the British Army during World War I. Although they were not strictly recruiting bodies, tribunals played an important part in conscription process. Tribunals were established as part of the Derby Scheme in 1915, but were continued on a statutory basis by the Military Service Act 1916, which introduced conscription.

Men could apply to tribunals on the grounds of their doing work of national importance, business or domestic hardship, medical unfitness, and conscientious objection. Only around two per cent of applicants were conscientious objectors.

Because of the sensitive issues surrounding Military Service Tribunal cases, Local Governments were ordered to destroy their records following the end of the war. The Kirriemuir Military Tribunals are a rare series of surviving case records which were handled by Wilkie & Dundas, solicitors in Kirriemuir.

The Kirriemuir Military Tribunal papers, held by Angus Archives, examine the exemption cases of 88 local men, including that of Alexander Clark.

Alexander Hogg Clark was the son of William Clark and Isabella Hogg, residing at Crieff farm cottage, Kirriemuir. After leaving school he was employed as a horseman at the neighbouring farm of Auchlishie. In September 1917 he was successfully granted exemption from service under agricultural requirements. By early 1918, the British Army was dangerously short of troops for the Western Front and in April Alexander Clark’s exemption was withdrawn. In May 1918, Alexander had enlisted with the 6th (Perthshire) Battalion the Black Watch. He was killed in action on 26 October 1918.

Application for exemption from military service of Alexander Clark