On 28 February 1916, James Jackson appeared for the local tribunal and asked for total exemption stating: “That since I believe that human life is sacred I am opposed to the organised slaughter of my fellow men and under no circumstances will I take part in doing so. While applying for exemption I recognise that this question seats between myself and my conscience only. Therefore whatever contrary decision that may become to by the tribunal […] I am prepared to obey my convictions whatever the consequences.”
On 16 March 1916, he was granted a total exemption. However, following an appeal by a military representative, on 28 March 1916, the appeal tribunal granted exemption from combatant service only.