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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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“An 8-Months Search For A Young German,” Toronto Star. January 24, 1919. Page 02.

Farmer Led Dominion Police Merry Chase – Bush Telegraph in Grey County

Like a revelation from the Secret Service Department was the evidence submitted in Police Court today in the case against E. F. Planz, a young German farmer from Grey County, charged with failure to report under the M.S.A. Magistrate Kingsford sat almost speechless on the bench as he listened to the public prosecutor, W. R. Smyth’s, exposure of an organized system of ’bush telegraphs,’ official and clerical connivance and whosesale exemptions and evasions in the German settlements of Bruce and Grey counties.

Mr. Smyth declared that two Dominion policeman had worked from May until January, and it had cost the Dominion Government nearly $600 to arrest this one individual.

According to the evidence submitted, Planz is the owner of an 80-acre farm in the Neustadt district, that community of German-Canadian families over which Reeve Joseph Weber wields influence. His parents are dead. His sister lives with him at home. When the first call for service came Planz received total exemption as a farmer, but when exemptions were abolished and the 20-22-year class was called he immediately became liable again. Instead of reporting he disappeared.

Eight Months’ Search.
‘It seems incredible,’ your Worship, but it is true,’ said Mr. Smyth, ‘that two Dominion policemen should have been trying from May to January to arrrest this man. His crops were harvested and threshed, and his farm continued to be looked after, but he himself could not be found. The bush telegraph was working almost perfectly. Our disbursements in this case have been between $500 and $600.

‘Under the circumstances I ask for special punishment. If the young man is sent to prison that punishment would fall most heavily on his sister. I, therefore, ask that a very heavy fine be imposed – $1,000. My learned friend has consented to that. Five hundred dollars will be paid in cash and the remainder in two equal installments of $250 between now and next September. In that way we will be partially recompensed for our trouble and outlay in the matter.’

In the course of his exposure, Mr. Smyth stated that Reeve Weber’s total contributions for war purposes were $3, and that, in the interests of patriotism, it had been found necessary to remove a clergyman from the village of Tavistock.

Counsel for the defence agreed that if his client had reported for service at the proper time he would undoubtedly have received farm leave, and would have been now fully discharged. But at the same time, argued the lawyer, a $500 fine would sufficiently cover the offence.

Will Pay by Instalment.
Eventually Magistrate Kingsford remanded the accused on his own bail until the 27th, to see if there were any technical difficulties in the way of receiving a fine by instalments, as proposed.

‘I am astonished at what you have told me,’ said His Worship to Mr. Smyth in conclusion. ‘And you say this was not far from Owen Sound. If the men from Owen Sound had known about it, this sort of thing wouldn’t have lasted five minutes.’

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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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