Bournemouth, Cannock, conscientious objectors, Garnet Aston, Gordon Aston, Military Service Act, Military Service Tribunal, Newhampton Road, Penn, South Staffordshire Regiment, St Philip's Terrace, Wolverhampton Chronicle
We have featured a number of sets of brothers on this blog already, but I believe this is the first set of twin brothers.
Garnet(t) Round and Gordon Osborne Aston were born in Cannock in 1885, and had moved to Wolverhampton by 1891, when they lived at Newhampton Road with their parents, Whitmore and Phoebe Aston, brother Percy and sisters Harriett and Lucy. By 1901 they had moved to 5 St Philip’s Terrace, in Penn (which is the address listed in the Chronicle article). Garnet had become a Factor’s Clerk and Gordon a Railway Clerk.
On Monday 3 April 1916, Garnet and Gordon Aston appeared before the Wolverhampton County Magistrates, charged with having failed to report themselves under the Military Service Act. This was reported in the Wolverhampton Chronicle the following Wednesday. They defended themselves by saying that “they could not have deserted from something they had not joined”. The Magistrates’ Clerk responded by saying that they were not accused of being deserters, but “appear to be absentees from the Army”. They had received notice to join on 30 March and had failed to do so.
The defendants asked for an adjournment, because the case had been brought before a local member of Parliament, and the defendants also stressed they had not had a fair hearing at the Tribunal. Second-lieutenant Dunn, who was the recruiting officer at Sedgley, stated that their cases had been considered by the Seisdon Tribunal and were not allowed. When they appealed, their appeal was dismissed. Despite these two instances, the defendants still insisted that their case had not been properly heard. Both brothers were fined 40s. and were remanded to await an escort.
This might have been where the trail went cold, but there is a further artilce that appears on 9 February 1917 in the Express & Star, entitled ‘Wolverhampton Conscientious Objectors Sentenced’, about Privates J. O. and J. R. Aston of the South Staffordshire Regiment. Despite the slight anomaly in their initials, I believe that this is the same set of brothers. On this occasion, they were court-martialled at Whittington Barracks “on charges of desertion and of losing their clothing and regimental necessaries by neglect.” They were each sentenced to 84 days’ imprisonment without hard labour. The article noted that they had already been sentenced to imprisonment by court-martial on two previous occasions for refusing to obey orders.
I have not been able to find any medal cards or military records of either men, perhaps because of the varying initials/first names. Garnet married a Hilda M. Blackett in Bournemouth in 1926, and died in 1953. Gordon does not appear to have married, and died (also in Bournemouth) in 1955.