On 28 February 1916, Douglas Anderson applied for total exemption: “I apply for Absolute Exemption because I have conscientious objection to warfare. I believe Warfare to be detrimental to the community not only by the sacrifice of the life involved but also by the evil effects produced on Moral Character. Holding such convictions I cannot conscientiously engage in duties which are subject to military control. The claim was denied and on 24 March he appealed: “I appeal against the decision of the local tribunal because such decision does not meet my conscientious objections to warfare. The Local tribunal states these are not sufficient grounds for allowing my claim. I state before the Local tribunal, in answer to a question, I had held my present convictions for over ten years. I further stated that although not at present a member, I had been a member of the Socialist Labour Party for some years- The truth of my statements was not questioned. Had evidence been asked I could have applied it. The principles of the Socialists Labour Party I have never forsaken. I shall not forsake them now.”The appeal was dismissed.
On 7 July 1916, he was court-martialled in Edinburgh Castle and sentenced to 28 days. He joined the 3rd R.Scots and he was court-martialled in Edinburgh on 16 March 1917 and sentenced to 1 year hard labour commuted to 6 months. He was court-martialled in Glencorse on 28 September 1917 and sentenced to 18 months hard labour
By January 1919 he had served 4 sentences (1 month and 4 months furloughs) and more than two years.