Reginald Laurens appeared before the Royal Court this week charged with making false claims to a military service tribunal. The 23-year-old had appealed against conscription on grounds of working on a farm and caring for his mother. Yet both declarations were found to be false, leaving Laurens facing trial under Jersey’s new Military Service Law.
The court heard that in his exemption appeal, Laurens stated he was essentially employed, working on the St Saviour property of a farmer named Renourd. He also claimed to be responsible for the welfare of his elderly and infirm mother. Subsequent investigations proved that these statements were not true, leading to charges of attempting to avoid military service.
Caustically, the prosecuting Attorney General remarked that Laurens was apparently suffering from a disease known as ‘blue funk’, which made him anxious to avoid seeing the German front lines. In his defence, however, the defendant claimed to have simply made a mistake.
Sentencing, the Bailiff reminded Laurens of the maximum penalty available in this case: six months’ imprisonment with or without hard labour. But he settled on a more salutary six weeks in jail, but with hard labour.
A/E/3 contains extensive papers on Jersey’s Military Service Act, the tribunals established to hear appeals and the punishments for attempting to evade conscription.