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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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“Weber Denies Making Disloyal Remarks,” Toronto Star. January 15, 1919. Page 02.

Father of Draftee Accused of Desertion Admits He Did Little for War.

HAS A BIG BUSINESS

His Voluntary Contributions to Patriotic Find Only $3 During War.

Joseph Weber, Reeve of Neastadt, father of Elmer Weber, charged with desertion, was recalled to the witness box at the general court-martial trial of his son for desertion, at the Armories to-day.

Mr. Weber stoutly denied the statements made yesterday by Arthur Mutton and I. K. Lewmarsh, travelers, that he had made any derogatory remarks about the British arms or about Union Government.

In four and one-third years of war Mr. Weber admitted to Mr. N. F. Davidson, K.C., counsel for Minister of Justice, that he had only contributed $3 to patriotic and Red Cross purposes.

‘Was it in 1915 that the British people of Leastadt refused to contribute to the British Red Cross Fund through you as Reeve, because of your nationality?’

‘No – I don’t know,’ replied Mr. Weber. 

‘You know they sent it direct to Dr. Abbot?’ ‘Yes.’

Opposed Patriotic Grant.
‘Isn’t it true you opposed the grant of the County Council to the Canadian Patriotic Fund?’ ‘Yes, in 1916, I did. But other grants I supported.’

‘Because you saw the majority supported it,’ commented Mr. Davidson.

‘Will you tell me what you, your son or any other member of the Weber brothers contributed to patriotic purposes except $3?’

The witness hesitated.

‘You were solicited as reeve of Newstadt council by the Lieutenant-Governor every year of the war,’ said Mr. Davidson.

‘The people could not afford it,’ said Mr. weber.

‘You took the position that your sons were better at home than in the forces?’ ‘That’s so.’

‘How did you help the cause of the allies?’ ‘I paid taxes of $200.’

Didn’t Buy Victory Bonds
‘Your firm could have bought Victory bonds?’ ‘I never bought one,’ said Weber.

‘Any patriotics organization of any kind in Neustadt since the war?’ ‘I don’t know of any exept some knitting done by women. There are some who contribute.’

‘Were you against conscription?’ ‘I don’t know about that.’

‘Then why did you go to Ottawa and Toronto?’ asked Mr. Davidson. ‘The was the purpose of the meetings.’

‘There were 20,000 people there.’

‘Am I correct if I say you were opposed to raising armies by conscription?’

Mr. Weber did not answer.

‘Were you in favor of Canada participating in the war by volunteer enlistment?’ ‘I never objected to it.’

Never Urged Enlistment.
‘Did you suggest to any man to go to the war?’

‘I never advocated it, as I had sons of my own,’ replied Mr. Weber.

‘Did you ever in your store, or in Neustadt, or in Council, say you did not want to see Canada participate in the war?’

‘Nothing like it,’ replied Mr. Weber.

Here, Mr. Dan O’Connell, counsel for Elmer Weber, objected to Mr. Davidson’s cross-examination, as his boy was being tried on a charge of desertion and that Mr. Davidson was trying to show the father was not inspired by high patriotic motives. An argument ensued. Mr. Weber was requested to leave the court, and it was arrived that no examination would take place along this line.

Letters Seeking Exemption.
Regarding letters written to manufacturers to secure assistance for Elmer Weber to get exemption. Mr. Weber admitted that International Harvester was the only firm that gave him a favorable reply.

The letter written to Hon. J. C. Doherty, Minister of Justice, Ottawa, by Arthur Muton, of Mitchell, Ont., traveler for Maxwells, of St. Mary’s, Ont., regarding alleged statements made by Mr. Joseph Weber, was admitted as an exhibit. The letter, which is dated Dec. 28, 1917, is as follows:

‘The Jon. J. C. Doherty,
Minister of Justice, Ottawa, Can.
Dear Sir: The writer is a traveler for Maxwells, Limited, St. Mary’s, Ont. Sometime in October, 1917, I called on a firm in Newstadt, Ont., by the name of Weber and Sons, hardware merchants. Mr. Weber asked me to sign a petition for exemption of his two songs. This I refused on the ground that it would be interfering with the Military Service Act.

A few days later I called at our head office in St. Mary’s and Mr. Maxwell showed me a letter from Weber ordering some goods on condition that they would sign the exemption for his boys. Mr. Maxwell refused and answered him to that effect the same as myself. Of this we have a copy and also Weber’s letter which you can get by asking for.

On December 20, 1917, I called and got something which was hard to take. Weber called me _______. He also said the _______ of British was licked and they knew it, and before either of his boys would go they would die right there in the store. One of the young Weber’s also said he would blow the brains out of the first man to out his head in the store to take him.

Now this is hard medicine to take after my eldest boy, Sergt. A. R. Mutton, No. 475410, paid the supreme sacrifice on Oct. 30, at Pasachendale, and my youngest boy, Pte. Fred Mutton, No. 727107, 58th Battalion, Canadians, was wounded the same date after having been in the trenches one year on his nineteenth birthday.

Yours faithfully,
Sergt. Arthur Mutton,
Mitchell, Ont.’

The accused Weber said he never made a statement to Mr. Mutton that he would shoot anybody who tried to put him in the army.

Had German Blood.
In his address to court, Mr. O’Correll said there could not be any doubt in mind of the court that there were several issues raised in this cases, which might prejudice the trial of the accused. Mr. O’Correll contended the orders-in-Council regarding the Military Service Act are ultra vires. Mr. O’Correll argued that it was only human nature that Weber sought exemption.

‘The case shows that this man, his family, and neighborhood deliberately set themselves against the law to a man,’ said Mr. Davidson.

Mr. Davidson cited to the court the purchase of the farm by Mr. Weber for his son to escape military service.

‘It was a farcial attempt after being trained in business for years,’ commented Mr. Davidson. ‘He was only on the farm two months.’

An adjournment was made till tomorrow morning at 11 o’clock, when Lt.-Col. J.A. Macdonald, judge advocate, will sum up the case.

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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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