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“Pte. Elmer J. Weber Gets 10-Year Term,” Toronto Star. February 5, 1919. Page 04.

Sentence Read Before Battalion at Exhibition Camp To-day.

Standing before his regiment in hollow square and apparently indifferent to his fate, Elmer J. Weber, son of Reever Weber, of Neustadt, Ont., was at the Exhibition Camp today sentenced to ten years servitude on a charge of desertion.

The original sentence passed by the court-martial which took place two weeks ago was fifteen years, but this was reduced by order-in-Council. The sentence was read by Capt. R. A. Plato, Adjutant of the 2nd Battalion, Canadian Garrison Regiment, to which the prisoner belonged. Weber took his sentence without a quiver, and now waits at the Exhibition detention room for the escort to take film to Kingston Penitentiary.

The following is a certified copy of a report of the Committee of the Privcy Council, approved by His Excellency the Governor-General on the 30th January, 1919:

‘The Committee of the Privy Council have had before them a report, dated 27th January, 1919, from the Minister of Militiar and Defence, stating that before a general court-martial held at Torontoon the 14th day of January, 1919, No. 3810998 Private Elmer Joseph Weber, 2nd Battalion, Canadian Garrison Regiment, was tried on the charge of having, when on active service, deserted His Majesty’s service.

Was Flagrant Breach of M.S.A.
‘It appeared from the evidence that this was a particularly flagrant case. The accused lived in a German settlement, and his whole course of conduct from the time the Military Service Act went into operation, indicated determination to evade the military service. He applied for exemption, which was disallowed and appealed. His father, who was in business, with the accused and one other son, got up petitions for his exemption, and under threat of boycott, induced manufacturing firms with which he was dealing, to write to the Military Service authorities on behalf of his son. When exemption was refused, money was furnished the accused whereby he went West and lived there for a long time under an assumed name. He was finally apprehended in the Province of Saaskatchewan. It was clear from the evidence that the accused and his family were the centre of a disloyal German community, and it was a clear case of deliberate desertion. The evidence brought forward on behalf of the accused did not cast any doubt on the truth of the facts above enumerated.’

Reduce Sentence.
‘The court found the accused guilty of the charge, and sentenced him to undergo penal servitude for fifteen years.

‘The Judge-Advocate-General reports that the proceedings are regular, the finding properly made and the sentence authorized by law, and Militia Council is of the opinion that the finding and sentence should be confirmed.

‘The Minister, therefore, recommends accordingly.

‘The committee concur in the foregoing, recommendation, subject to the reduction of the sentence to ten years and submit the same for approval.’

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“Contends Draftee Planned Desertion,” Toronto Star. January 16, 1919. Page 02.

Judge-Advocate Sums Up Case of E. J. Weber Before Court-Martial.

The trial before a general court-martial of Elmer Joseph Weber, son of Joseph Weber, Reeve of Neustadt, charged with desertion from the Canadian forces, was concluded at noon to-day at the Armories, after lasting two days and a half.

Lieut.-Col. J. A. Macdonald, K.C., Assistant Judge Advocate-General of the Toronto Military District, closed the case by reading his charge to the court. His summing up of the case lasted three-quarters of an hour and then the court reserved their judgement. The finding will be sent to Ottawa for decision and if sentence is imposed it will be promulgated later at Toronto.

Lieut.-Col. Macdonald said that Weber was charged with desertion while on active service. ‘This man is charged with being a member of the 2nd C.O.R. and as a soldier was subject to military law, and while on active service deserted His Majesty’s forces. He was a soldier subject to military law from the date of the proclamation of the M.S.A. in October, 1917, but was on leave of absence without pay, according to the Act.’

Regarding Weber’s application for exemption, Lieut.-Col. Macdonald said Weber’s record as a soldier was unbroken under the M.S.A. regulations.

‘Therefore it appears by the M.S.A. that the accused was a duly enlisted solider subject to military law.’

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“Father Bought Farm To Let Son Evade Act,” Toronto Star. January 15, 1919. Page 05.

Reeve’s Son Was Draftee, But He Was Not Anxious to Fight.

DESERTION CHARGED

Bruce County Man Faces General Court-Martial at the Armories.

Joseph Weber, father of the prisoner, was recalled at the resumption of the court-martial yesterday afternoon, of Elmer J. Weber, charged with desertion after being ordered to report.

‘Do you recollect a notice being sent to your son to report for duty?’ asked Lt.-Col. Biggs, a member of the court.

‘Yes. It was expected. It did not cause any excitement,’ said Mr. Weber.

‘Were you at home when he left?’

‘Yes. There was no reference made as to his journey.’

‘Did you ever encourage your two boys to enlist during the long period of war?’ asked Lt.-Col. Butcher.

‘I did not want them enlist, but I did not say one way or another.’

‘Isn’t that the reason you bought the farm?’

‘Yes – so they wouldn’t have to enlist.’

‘Did you do anything for your son to evade the act?’

‘No.’

Didn’t Want Sons to Enlist
‘Don’t you think, like every loyal and patriotic citizen, you should have seen that one of our sons enlisted?’ asked Lieut.-Col. Butcher, president of the court. 

‘I did not persuade him to enlist,’ stated Mr. Weber.

‘Were your sympathies against your sons aiding in the cause?’

‘The stand I took I did not persuade them to enlist or not to enlist.’

‘Where were you born?’

‘In Bruce County.’

‘We are not trying Mr. Weber, senior,’ broke in Mr. O’Connell, counsel for prisoner.

‘That’s right; I am not being tried,’ said Mr. Weber.

‘Despite all the efforts you made to prevent him from enlisting, such as buying the farm, you say your intentions were not opposed to the boy enlisting?’ asked Lieut.-Col. Macdonald.

‘I did not do anything to prevent him,’ stated Mr. Weber.

Arthur Mutton, of Mitchell, Ont., salesman for the Maxwell Limited, agricultural implements, of St. Marys, Ont. In his visits to Weber’s store, Mr. Mutton said the language among the customers was generally carried on in German.

Were Talking German
‘Was there anything else said?’ ‘I don’t know, they were mostly talking in German.’

‘How is it that you came to contain this in your mind ever since?’ ‘It was implanted there – I could not forget i. I reported it to the authorities,’ said Mr. Mutton.

Mr. Mutton stated he believed that the Weber family enjoyed a respectable reputation at Neustadt.

‘Do you know what official position the father occupied in the village?’

‘Reeve, I believe,’ stated Mr. Mutton.

‘When did you learn they were Germans?’ – ‘The first time I met them.’

Wrote Letter to Firms
In a letter to Maxwells, Limited, Mr. Joseph Weber said in part: ‘All I ask of you is to state that Elmer Weber and Wilfred Weber’s present occupation in taking care of the farmer’s requirements is indispensable, and that you d not make this statement for personal gain, but knowing their need and ability you feel confident that their service in present occupation is of more benefit to the country than serving in uniform for the country’s cause, and trusting you will see your way clear to do me this personal favor. P.S. – You can ship me a 2 1-4 horse-power engine at once, providing you will assist me in obtaining this business; if not, you need not send same at all.’

Wm. I. Newmarsh, traveler for the Canada Cement Co, of Toronto, stated that Mr. Joseph Weber, in the presence of Elmer Weber, the prisoner, said that in October, 1917, just after the M.S.A. became law. ‘I would like to see who would come to take my sons; he would shoot the _____. He said his two sons would not register under the Military Service Act.’

‘I met Mr. Weber and his son in the store; others were present, and they were talking in the German language.’

‘I submit to the court that there has not been any case made out under the charge,’ stated Mr. O’Connell, after the Crown closed their case, in addressing the court.

Robert H. Fortune, of the members of the M.S.A. tribunal at Ayton, was called by the defence. Mr. Fortune said the prisoner was granted exemption.

When Mr. O’Connell produced the certificate of exemption Mr. Davidson objected, stating the appeal had been disallowed by Justice Duff.

Mr. O’Connell said he produced the certificate to show that Weber thought he had permanent exemption and he had no intention of deserting.

The court was adjourned till 10 o’clock to-day.

The cartoon at top is At The Weber Court Martial at the Armories.

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“Draftee Bought Farm Then Wouldn’t Fight,” Toronto Star. January 14, 1919. Page 02.

Elmer J. Weber Faces General Court-Martial on Desertion Charge.

HE WENT OUT WEST

Counsel for Prosecution Says There Was Concerted Action to Avoid the M.S.A.

Charged with being a deserter from the army, in that he failed to report for service, Elmer J. Weber, son of Joseph Weber, Reeve of Neustadt, Grey County, a German community, faced a general court-martial at the armories to-day.

This is the first general court-martial held in Toronto since the armistice was signed, and was presided over by Lieut.-Col. W. P. Butcher, camp commandant at Exhibition Camp.

Weber was a draftee, and was ordered to report for military service at Brantford in 1918. Instead he went to the West and went on a farm near Regina, living under the name of ‘Norman Weller, of Renfrew, Ont.’ He was arrested at Shauravon, Sask., on December 6, handed over to Inspector D. H. Reynolds of the Dominion Police of Ottawa.

N. F. Davidson, K.C., acted for the Minister of Justice, and Capt. I. H. G. Wallace, the Militia Department, while Mr. Daniel O’Connell, K.C., defended Weber. Lieut.-Col. J.A. Macdonald, K.C., acted as judge advocate.

Says Accused Defied M.S.A.
In outlying the case, Mr. Davidson said accused was charged with desertion and had failed to report for duty on May 11, 1918. He was apprehended in the North-west.

‘For a long time past to the act of desertion, namely, from calling out of the class in 1917, there has been a concerted action on the part of the accused, his mother and father and a determined attitude never to submit to military service,’ said Mr. Davidson.

H. Eric Bachell, assistant Ontario registrar of the M.S.A., produced copy ordering Weber to report, showing the registered letter had been received by Weber and that the transportation warrant had been cashed.

D. H. Reynolds, investigating officer, Dominion Police, Ottawa, stated he met Weber at London, Dec. 10, and obtained a voluntary statement from Weber. After it was written out by Reynolds, Webber signed it.

‘I warned Weber that anything that he said might be used against him,’ said Mr. Reynolds. ‘He said he was wrong and glad to tell the whole story.’

The statement said Weber worked at his father’s store at Newstadt until March 1, then went to work ‘on my farm near Newstadt. My father gave me $2,000 to buy the farm. There I thought I could get exemption from military service easier by being employed at farm work. My father told me if I wanted to buy a farm he would give $2,000; $1,000 was paid the following month.

Was Granted Exemption
‘I was granted exemption from military service by the local tribunal at Ayton, Ont., on the ground that I was working at implement business. This exemption was granted in November, 1917, and was cancelled. Somebody in Newstadt must have given me a black eye. I appealed to Justice Duff on Jan. 1, 1918, on the ground that I had bought a farm from a man who was not capable of working a farm, as he was sick. I got a letter from Registrar Wilson that my case was disposed of because appeal had been entered too late.

‘I made up my mind to go west about May 5, 1918, when I received my order to report, as I did not want to join the militia forces, as I thought I was not fit.’

Accused Wasn’t Warned
Than Weber went to Regina and then to Dummore, Alberta, where he obtained farm work. Later he was arrested by the North-West Mounted Police and brought to London, Ont.

To Mr. Daniel O’Connell, counsel for Weber, Inspector Reynolds admitted he did not warn Weber before he made his statement, as he did not think it was necessary. ‘It was absolutely voluntary and given in the best of good will,’ said Inspector Reynolds in examination by Mr. Davidson.

‘There was no attempt at extraction,’ said Reynolds, who said no inducement was offered.

‘The lad was anxious to know what sentence he would get,’ stated Reynolds.

Mr. O’Connell argued that as no warning was given before the statement of the accused was made it was therefore not admissible as evidence.

Wilfred W. Weber, a brother of the accused, stated in the fall of 1917 he and his brother bought over their father’s hardware business in September, 1917. He said both were in Class I. Witness got Category B in his medical examination.

‘Who took an active part in your brother’s exemption?’ asked Mr. Weber.

‘We wrote to some farm implement manufacturers,’ replied Weber.

Mr. Davidson produced letters sent to Wood Wallace and Co., of Hamilton, also a petition from a farmer of Normandy and Carrick Township, asking assistance to secure defendant’s exemption.

Accused Counsel Objects
Mr. O’Connell took final objection to the method adopted by Mr. Davidson in examining the witness. The court ruled that as the witness was hostile Mr. Davidson had a right to cross-examine him. Mr. O’Connell stated he would take steps to have the decision of the court reviewed.

Witness stated he never loaned his category ‘E’ certificate to his brother.

‘What did you do to assist your brother?’ ‘I did nothing – I thought he was going to Brantford to report for service.’

At this stage the witness was warned that he had the protection of the court, except if he made a false statement.

The crown produced a letter written by the accused, from Shanravon, Sask., to his home, whole he was an absentee from the army.

In part it said: ‘You are well aware how hesitatingly I departed, how I despised my voyage into an unknown country thousands of miles away, absolutely no travelling experience commensurate while such a terrific M.S.A. was prevailing.’

Witness stated the letter never was received by the family.

‘My reason for never enlisting was that I was not physically fit. I tried to get out of military service every lawful way I could,’ said witness.

Joseph Weber, called by the Crown, stated he was the father of the prisoner and when he was about to be examined Mr. O’Connor objected and stated the evidence was irrelevant, as the charge was one of desertion, not conspiracy. 

Provided Him With Money
‘Where did your son get the money to travel with?’ asked Mr. Davidson. ‘From me,’ replied Mr. Weber.

‘Where was he going when he left home?’ ‘I don’t know.’

‘How much money did he get from you?’ ‘I gave him about $210,’ stated Mr. Weber. ‘I owed him the money on wages. I sold them the business and in the event of one of them being drafted the business would come back to me. If he had of asked for more money….I guess I would have given him it.’

‘He wouldn’t want much money in the army,’ commented Lieut.-Col. Butcher.

‘No.’

Regarding Weber’s letter saying, ‘you were all aware I was headed for North Bay —’

Mr. Webber claimed he did not know where his so had gone, but he didn’t know that he did not go to Brantford until a week latter.

Mr. Weber said he bought a farm for his son, to save his boy from conscription. ‘That why you did that?’ asked Mr. Davidson. ‘Just like most neighbors did,’ said Mr. Weber.

‘I bought the farm for $7.00 and paid $2,000 – but it is not paid for yet.

Mr. Weber said he did not expect notice of his son being called to the colors until the order-in-Council was passed cancelling exemption of 20-22 classes.

Mr. Weber said he went to Toronto and Ottawa in connection with the farmers’ deputation objecting to the enforcement of the Military Service Act.

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