‘The function of the military representative will be to represent the War Office and is to do everything possible to protect the military interest of the nation…. It is essential that the military representative shall take a firm attitude throughout …this need not mean that he will necessarily raise friction and resentment in the Committees with whom he has to co-operate.’
The main committee the military representative worked with was the Advisory Committee which was made up of ‘men of wide knowledge and business experience in the district.’
‘It has been found that military interests are best served when the military representative and his Advisory Committee work together in complete harmony and mutual trust.’ [page 5 of ‘Groups and Class Systems. The above description remained the same throughout the life of the tribunal system]
James Digby Legard was born on July 12 1848, the eldest son of the late Captain James Anlaby Legard, RN, of Kirby Misperton, Yorkshire. Educated at Harrow he then went to the Royal Military Academy, Woolwich, where in 1866 he was commissioned a Lieutenant in the Royal Artillery. Promotions followed and in 1886 he became a Major.
Legards have long been associated with either the Army or the Navy, and James Digby Legard followed in this family tradition. He served in India, he volunteered when the Zulu war began, and was appointed Acting Deputy Assistant Adjutant General of the First Division. At the end of the campaign he was awarded the South African Medal and Clasp.
In November 1889 he was appointed Commander of the Yorkshire Artillery Militia. It is said that he made the corps one of the most efficient Artillery Militia corps in the country. In 1894 he was given the rank of Honorary Colonel.
In 1900 he commanded the Militia unit during the Boer war and was appointed Honorary Lieutentant-Colonel in the Regular Army in recognition of his services. He was also a member of the North Riding of Yorkshire Territorial Association.
In the years 1885 and 1886 he twice sought Parliamentary service, but failed on both occasions.
Legard sat on the Norton Bench of Magistrates, was a Deputy Lieutenant and a member of the North Riding County Council. He preceded Sir William Worsley as chairman of the North Riding Education Committee.
Between 1916 and 1918 he was the Military Representative for the Malton UDC and RDC local tribunals. His signature is frequently seen on appeals to the North Riding Appeal Tribunal on appeals against the decision of the local tribunal. Three comments or summaries of the appeals Colonel J D Legard put forward are listed below:
‘[John Beal] Was given temporary exemption to 1 Oct 1916. The appeal is against this decision on the grounds that he is not in a reserved occupation and his exemption is not in the national interest.’ [The phrase ‘not in the national interest is one of the Military Representatives’ stock phrases]
[George Alfred] Boyes’ employer applied for exemption as he is the only man not called up who is capable of driving motor vehicles. Five other employees have already been called up. Boyes is married with one child and contributes to the maintenance of his mother. He was granted two months exemption by the local tribunal to 1 Oct 1916. Colonel J D Legard argued that the exemption was far too long‚ and the employer could find someone else.
Colonel J D Legard states that Harold Blenkin is employed on a farm of 400 acres where many of the other employees are either very old or very young. It is not in the national interest that he continue and his previous temporary exemption issued by the local tribunal should not be renewed.
The above comments are not exclusive to Colonel J D Legard. Similar appeals and comments can be found from Military Representatives throughout the North Riding Appeal tribunal case papers.
Research by Kathleen Horner a volunteer on the Grounds for Appeal project. Additional material by Ruth Rising, Project Leader for the Grounds for Appeal project.