Early in 1917, with compulsory conscription in force, Farnhill lad Norman Rhodes was called up for military service. Norman’s older brother, Cecil, was already in the forces, he was one of the Farnhill Volunteers having volunteered before conscription was introoduced in February 1916.
Perhaps feeling that he had already given up one son and unwilling to risk another, Norman’s father, Albert, appealed to a local Military Tribunal for an exemption on behalf of his son; but this appeal was turned down, and Norman was ordered to join the Army.
Like the Rhodes family, the chairman of the tribunal that considered the case was also a Farnhill man, the Rural District Councillor George Bottomley and, because of his position on the tribunal, Albert Rhodes subsequently held Bottomley personally responsible for his son’s safety. Over the following months he repeatedly threatened Bottomley with dire consequences if Norman came to any harm, including saying that he was not afraid to die and would “do Bottomley in” and that he would “swing for him” if his boy was sent to face winter in the trenches.
On January 3rd 1918 Albert received a letter from Norman saying that he was going to be shipped over to France within a very few days. Later that day he accosted Bottomley in the street, shouting “I shall go [deleted] mad. I give you fair warning that I will have my revenge. My son would never have joined the army if he hadn’t been sent; you are the man that sent him and I shall hold you personally responsible. The Tribunal is, like the war, a [expletive deleted] fraud.”
The police were called, Rhodes was arrested, and appeared before Skipton Magistrates on January 14th. He admitted threatening Mr. Bottomley, but persisted in voicing his belief that he was fully justified. He took some persuading to agree to cease troubling Mr. Bottomley in the future, but was eventually bound over to keep the peace for six months with a personal surety of £50 and surety of £25 from another person.
Note: Happily, both Norman and Cecil Rhodes survived the war. In 1929 Cecil married Florence Julia Greenfield Day, in Ilkley; Norman was one of the witnesses.
View the full news report of Albert Rhodes’ feud with George Bottomley — Craven Herald, 18th January 1918