Harold Deighton, 12 Fenwick St, York
Harold Deighton was brought up at 12 Fenwick Street and when the Military Service Act was passed in 1916, he was 23 years old and was working as a clerk for Terry’s. He was also very active in St Clement’s Church, being a sidesman, a Sunday School Teacher and a member of the St Clements Temperance Society.
Harold was also a member of the No Conscription Fellowship. He appealed against his conscription on the grounds of conscience – this appeal failed, although he was granted a non-combatant certificate. This was problematic for him as his definition of a ‘non-combatant’ role differed from that of the Army. He had no problem supporting the soldiers in his army duties, as he had already worked voluntarily at YMCA-run soldiers’ rest rooms but he did not want to be involved directly in the Army machine. Consequently when he was summoned by the Army to report for ‘non-combatant’ duties on 3 May 1916 he ignored the Army’s request.
He was arrested by the Military Police as absent without leave and court-martialled on 27 May 1916 at Fulford Barracks. Speaking at his first court martial he said: ‘ I don’t consider myself to be a soldier. I have signed no papers, accepted no money, and taken no oath to obey any order given by the military authority, and as a conscientious objector I am opposed to all warfare, and therefore, to militarism. ‘
Nevertheless, he was posted to No. 2 Northern Command Non Combatant Corps on 29 May 1916. From then on he repeatedly refused to obey orders, and was punished. He was court-martialled a total of three times and served time in Richmond Castle, Pontefract Gaol and Wormwood Scrubs.
Harold Deighton died in the North East of England in 1984.
Ancestry.co.uk British Army World War One Service Records
Peacock, A J (1993), York in the Great War 1014 – 1918, York, York Settlement Trust
Peacock, A J Conscience and Politics in York, 1914 – 1918 in York Historian Volume 5 (39) (Sheldon Essay)
Yorkshire Post 29 May 1916 Conscientious Objectors Court-Martialled at York