Readings — From the April 2014 issue

Artful Dodger

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From a note sent in 1917 to the Appeal Tribunal in Middlesex, England, which reviewed requests for exemption from military service during World War I. The note is included in the case file of Charles Busby, one of more than 11,000 such records digitized and put online in January by the British National Archives. The Battle of Mons, on August 23, 1914, was the first confrontation between British and German troops on the Western front. Busby’s appeal was denied.

Sirs:

I am writing to say you will have a man before you tomorrow Wednesday his name is Charles Busby butcher of 176 Cricklewood Lane he has had 5 exemptions at Hendon Tribunal and he was told he would have to join the army when he went up last Thursday week to try and get another exemption but he is telling everyone in his shop he will not have to go in the army and he says he bets that you gentlemen sitting at the Guild Hall tomorrow will give him 3 months again for he says he does not care for one of you he joined the VAD to keep him out of the army he made heaps of money in this shop he is a proper rotter of a man he wore the armlet and every man in Cricklewood Lane he would tell them to join the army there are 2 shops in Cricklewood have had to close as both men have had to go and I am 68 years old and have had 2 sons killed one in the Battle of Mons and one 6 weeks ago I have a son in the North Sea and my 2 sons both left family why should this man get exempted every time he told a friend of mine only this morning that he would like to bet him 5/- that he will get 3 months exemption when he gets to the Guild Hall Wednesday how many married men have had to shut up their shop and go why should he Busby brag to everyone that he will not go he is a rotten shirker.

I am your obedient servant,
a father & householder,
S.H.M.

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