Ron Mallone – Conscientious objector tribunal
Item type: Oral history Description: Ron tells about how he successfully represented himself at his tribunal for being a ‘conscientious objector’, or a person who refuses to fight as a combatant in war. He describes how many of these tribunals actually operated and how some people were more likely to ‘get off’, or get exemptions from fighting, than others. Those who were unlucky were sent to prison. Click here to listen to Ron Mallone’s audio clip
Ron: But what they didn’t do…you were allowed to present a statement on your behalf. All they did was somebody went ‘blub blub blub blub blub blub blub blub’ –reading it out like that. Interviewer: Reading your statement? Ron: Yeah, reading your statement. Interviewer: So were you allowed to read your statement? Ron: So nobody could ever hear what they said. So what I did was I wrote, I typed out my statement and when I went along I said to the chairman may I read my own statement and can I give you each a copy of it and then they accepted it, so I was able to make a witness by saying exactly why I was a pacifist. And I think that’s what really got me, got me total exemption because I was the first person at the Southampton Tribunal to get complete exemption. And most tribunals were like that. There was one in north London which was good, a friend of mine got off there who wasn’t even Christian. Usually you didn’t get off unless you were a Christian; if you were Quaker they put you onto the land straight away. It didn’t matter how bad you might put your case because a friend of mine who was a very good open-air speaker dried up completely at his tribunal, he went so nervous he couldn’t speak hardly, but they put him on the land because he was a Quaker. So it wasn’t really fair. Anybody who was political automatically went into the army, so then they had to choose either to go on the run or go to prison. And one of my friends went on the run and another one went into prison.