On 24 February 1916 he applied for total exemption, stating: “I am a conscientious objector and I am a member of the non-conscription fellowship, whose members are not prepared to take up arms, whatever the penalties for refusing. I claim absolute exemption from military service in any shape or form and from any other employment than my present employment. On the grounds that it would be utterly at variance with all my deepest moral convictions, I cannot admit the right of the state to compel me to cause or help to cause death.”
On 25 April he was denied exemption. He appealed: “ … I was a delegate at the last peace conference held here in Edinburgh several years ago. For the past eight years I have been a member of the Independent Labour Party an association that on principle has opposed as it still opposed War. As a socialist-believer in the International Brotherhood of man I could not conscientiously engage in Military Service of any description. I therefore claim absolute exemption.” The appeal was dismissed.