University of Oxford
8 files

God Before Country

online resource
posted on 2024-06-05, 18:17 authored by Their Finest Hour Project Team

My father was an orphan. His father was a conscientious objector in the First World War and died from Spanish Flu when Dad was only 1 year old. He revered his father's memory and when the second war came along, even though he was in exempt employment, he registered as a conscientious objector. He was a Christadelphian like his father and as such could claim exemption. Christadelphians had gained this status during the American Civil War and this had gained official status in the first war.

When his well-paid engineering job as a machine tool fitter turned to involvement in the manufacture of bombs, he felt he could not continue and went before a tribunal where his case was accepted. He had to accept work as a boot repairer paying only 1/3 of his earnings as an engineer. He was contracted to repair army boots and squared his conscience by trying to make sure the boots were properly repaired.

To make ends meet my mother worked in the evenings when no one could see her. He wasn't demobbed until the early 50s and by that time didn't want to go back to engineering as he had become so used to working alongside Mum in the business they now owned.


Item list and details

1. My account for his funeral of events around his registration as a CO. 2. His account. 3. His medical. 4. His notification. 5. His application. 6. His application. 7. His registration, this is at the new address where he was now already a shoe repairer. There is a grey area regarding where he was employed when he decided he could no longer carry on as a Machine Tool Fitter. I know he worked at the Boulton Paul aircraft factory at some point. The factory was located about a mile from this address. One account is that he was working on the Defiant aircraft when he decided he could not continue. My recollection is he told me he was making lathes to be used for bomb manufacture. Many Christadelphians in the Midlands continued in their protected employment but Dad couldn't do this. I think he was influenced by his fathers stand in the 1st World War. He died from Spanish Flu when Dad was 18 months old and had a mythical status for him. My wife's family were also Christadelphians and her grandfather was a CO in the first war. Originally a skilled Jacquard card machine operator he had to get work as a labourer in a steel works. His exemption card is attached which is printed with the reason that he was a bona fide Christadelphian illustrating the established acceptance of their stand on military service first established in the American Civil War. Her father was a Stone Mason who was working at an alabaster ornament factory at Weston nr Stafford. He was granted exemption as he was involved in making and repairing items for churches such as fonts. Many other Christadelphians were assigned to work on farms for the duration. 8. Samuel Balls exemption card.

Person the story/items relate to

John Andrew Hayes

Person who shared the story/items

John Hayes

Relationship between the subject of the story and its contributor

He was my father

Type of submission

Shared online via the Their Finest Hour project website.

Record ID