Challenging Militarism

CONSCIENTIOUS OBJECTORS WHO HAVE BEEN DISCHARGED

From the Tribunal 31st January 1918

This is a further update in a series of extracts from the No Conscription Fellowship’s journal, published in the UK between March 1916 and November 1918
For other extracts go to: http://nfpb.org.uk/tribunal

…FROM PRISON ON GROUNDS OF ILL HEALTH

28th January, 1918

Arrowsmith, W.G. (Merthyr Tydfill), prison: Manchest C.P., in hospital. 3rd sentence; no papers.

Bishop, D.G. (Tunbridge Wells), prison: Winchester C.P, mental. 3rd sentence; complete discharge.

Bunce, John (Altrincham), prison: Canterbury C.P., 3rd sentence, no papers.

Horton, Percy F. (Brighton), prison: Edinburgh C.P., in hospital. 3rd sentence; statement from Secretary of State for Scotland that he is released “to care of his friends.”

Pickles, W.A. (Blackburn), prison: Shrewsbury C.P. 3rd sentence; no papers.

Ramsay, W.A. (Chelsea), prison: Liverpool C.P. 3rd sentence, no papers.

Smith, Albert (Blackburn), prison: Shrewsbury C.P. 3rd sentence; complete discharge.

Smith, T.S. (Duston, Northhants), prison: Shepton Mallet C.P. 3rd sentence, no papers.

King. D.A. (Hornsey), prison: Exeter C.P., special treatment. 2nd sentence, no papers.

Allen, Clifford, prison: Winchester C.P.. in hospital. 3rd sentence, no papers.

Evans, J.W. (Chester), awaiting 4th C.M. at Red Barracks, Weymoth, mental. Army Reserve W.

Gilbert, Thomas, prison: Winchester C.P. Army Reserve W.

Hobhouse, Stephen (Hoxton). prison: Exeter C.P. 2nd sentence; Army Reserve W.

NFPB Huddersfield gathering

When early March snow prevented our members’ meeting that month from going ahead, trustees agreed to plan one or more additional NFPB events. The first of these was held in Huddersfield on 14th April, with local Friends joining in and providing warm hospitality to the approximately 18 participants. A second will take place in Lancaster on 12th May.

MILITARISM IN SCHOOLS

From The Tribunal January 24th 1918

This is a further update in a series of extracts from the No Conscription Fellowship’s journal, published in the UK between March 1916 and November 1918
For other extracts go to: http://nfpb.org.uk/tribunal

Sir. – There is a certain type of mind which regards the militarist as a ferocious, swashbuckling sort of fellow who wants to make everyone miserable and to be all the time on top himself. Now, although that kind of person is easily produced by militarism, he is by no means its chief danger. In general, he becomes so unpopular both with his superiors and with his inferiors that his position is difficult to maintain unless he curbs his ferocity.

The danger of militarism is not that it produces characters which are peculiar either for good or for evil, but that it definitely aims at producing uniform characters which have no peculiarity at all. Your true militarist aims at an ordered, graded society wherein each individual has his place in which it is his duty to remain.

Peculiarity in religion, dress, diet, political opinions or anything is equally detestable in his eyes. If his system obtains, a people becomes uniform and therefore servile and dead.

During the war militarist institutions have been imposed on the people of this country. It has been a difficult thing to do notwithstanding the fact that the great majority accepted the impositions as they came along. In the administration of the Munitions Acts, the Defence of the Realm Acts and the Military Service Acts and particularly of the Orders in Council. Under the two last, the militarist authorities have been continually brought into conflict with men and occasionally with women who have grown up free from the uniformity and servility essential for the easy working of such a system. It is naturally now dawning on the minds of those who desire such uniformity and servility in the people that the process must begin earlier. In the child individuality is still latent and there is the opportunity for militarism. Thus the experience of the last three years has caused the militarists to turn their attention to education. It does not in the least matter that the object lessons of Germany with its utilisation of the schools and universities for the purpose of militarism is before our eyes.

It does not matter the children of this generation will need all the resources, initiative and enterprise they can develop if they are to solve the problems of a world drained of its strength by war. The militarist means to mould the human material while it is plastic, and his hand is stretching out to grasp it.

Compulsory Cadet Corps, lessons from militarist pamphlet, dismissal of teachers whose views are in any way peculiar, registration, docketting, drilling, putting mind and body into uniform – that is what he is planning, especially for the children of the “lower orders.” The children of “the classes” may have some individuality if they like. Few enough of them will want to change their social order very materially. But the rank and file must be regimented. Therefore, say the militarists, let us talk everywhere of patriotism, let us get the hygenists to declare that the childrens’ bodies, the schoolmasters their minds, and the parsons their souls, need drill and more drill: and let us therefore delude Labour into handing over the coming generation to us. Is Labour, I wonder, willing that the bright promise of childhood should be so blighted?
Yours Etc, R.N.Langdon-Davies (Secretary, National Council for Civil Liberties.)

C.O.'S IN THE POST OFFICE

From The Tribunal January 17th 1918

This is a further update in a series of extracts from the No Conscription Fellowship’s journal, published in the UK between March 1916 and November 19q8
For other extracts go to: http://nfpb.org.uk/tribunal

The following article is taken from the “Postal and Telegraph Record” for January 3rd, 1918, and deals with the recent action taken by the Government with respect to conscientious objectors in the postal service. We have received private information that in the one case (that of a married man) the effect has been to reduce his pay from 60’s to 30’s:-

COERCION FOR GOVERNMENT C.O.‘s

“The Government has just adopted a most amazing weapon with which to coerce conscientious objectors who are in the service of the State. In order to bring pressure to forego their claims to exemption, C.O.‘s who have been permitted by military tribunals to remain in Post Office employment as satisfying the authorities that they are engaged in work of national importance, are to have their wages substantially reduced. One of our members whose claims to the relief granted by Act of Parliament has been recognised by a tribunal, has received the following notification:-

“‘I have to inform you that, in accordance with a decision of the Government, P>O> servants who have been granted by the Tribunal exemption from military service on the ground of conscientious objection, conditionally upon their engaging in work of national importance, and have been allowed to remain on their P.O. duties as fulfilling this condition, can only receive after 31st inst. either the actual rate of remuneration drawn by them at the date of exemption (without further increment) or the rate at which would be paid to a temporary substitute performing the duty, whichever is less; and their service under these conditions will not count for pension or increments.
“‘You may if you prefer it, apply to the Tribunal for leave to undertake some alternative work outside the P>O> as a condition of exemption.’ 29/12/17.

“This action of the Government must be challenged at once, and all the power our Association can command must be exerted to get the persecuting decision of the Government revoked immediately. We cannot think that the authorities are foolish enough to imagine that a coercive measure such as this is likely to lead to the increase of the Army by a single individual. The only possible effect the new order can have is the infliction of punishment. The wives and families of conscientious objectors are the people who will suffer. We have here the spectacle of a Government which has gone to the length of legislating for the protection of conscience now turning round, and in a most spiteful and vindictive spirit saying to men whose only offence is that they will not degrade their conscience: “It is true that we recognise your conscience, but we are not prepared to stand by and allow you to take advantage of what you are legally entitled to. We propose, therefore, to make it difficult for you to live, and in order to induce you to reconsider your attitude towards your conscience we will reduce your wages.’ If the workers will permit the Government to do this, the next step will be to apply the coercion to industry in general – a position we feel certain the Labout movement would not tolerate for a moment. The action of the authorities is not only mean and spiteful, but it constitutes a grave violation of trade union rights. It enables the Government as an employer to sweat its servants, and is therefore as immoral as it is mean. It places the victim in the position of having to choose between his conscience or cutting the rates of pay of his colleagues.

“We want to mate it quite clear that we are not at the moment concerned with the question as to whether the conscientious objectors are right or wrong in the attitude that they take to up towards military service. The business, however. affects every member of the Association and every worker. It is a trade union matter, in addition to fact that the Government order will inflict a grave injustice on individuals. We trust that our branches will lose no opportunity of bringing the matter to the notice of other trade unions. The good offices of members of Parliament should also be invoked to secure the withdrawal of an order that not only violates all canons of decency, but is an illegal infringement of statutory conditions and obligations. We do not believe the House of Commons has either been consulted or made acquainted with this objectionable proposal.”

Joint appeal to government on nuclear disarmament efforts

Northern Friends Peace Board has joined with others in sending an open letter to the Foreign Secretary calling for active and constructive engagement with multilateral nuclear disarmament processes, stating that

ANOTHER C.O. TAKEN TO FRANCE

From The Tribunal January 10th 1918

This is a further update in a series of extracts from the No Conscription Fellowship’s journal, published between march 1916 and November 1918
For other extracts go to: http://nfpb.org.uk/tribunal

Yet another C.O., Alfred P. Catherall by name, has been taken over to France! He was released from Bristol Prison on December 5th, 1917, on the completion of his third sentence an on the 8th was sent over, still resisting, to France. No details of this sudden departure have been obtained as yet, but on December 31st Catherall wrote from the Guard Room, A.S.C., Base Depot, Havre, saying: “You will notice by address that I am in my usual abode (the guard-room). I cannot give full details of my case at present, but of course you will understand that I have not changed my views one bit.” On January 1st he wrote: “I hope you will be pleased to hear that I am in fairly good health and splendid spirits, and intend to fight for the cause to my last breath.”

Catherall’s case is an extraordinary one. He was arrested at Chester in September 1916, court-martialled and sent to Wormwood Scrubs. He had bee in bad health for years, and had a painful internal complaint, and his experiences in camp and prison must have caused him great suffering. He accepted the Home Office Scheme, and in December, 1916, was removed from prison to Wakefield Work Centre. There he volunteered for quarrying at Dinton Priors, but the work proved too heavy for him and he soon fell seriously ill. he was ordered to cease work immediately by the Home Office doctor, who gave him permission to travel home on sick leave on the condition that Catherall should accept full responsibility for the results.

After recovering somewhat, he was put on light work at Princetown, and later he volunteered for tree felling. When he had been eight weeks at his work he had an accident and was injured by some heavy rolling logs, and was sent back to Princetown and given light work again. After working there for three days he was suddenly arrested at work, without notice and without any charge being made against him! He was taken to Bath, court-martialled, and sent to Bristol Prison for 84 days without hard labour, court-martialled again in September and given the same sentence, at the conclusion of which he has been rushed out to France.

There can be no question of the fact that Catherall was a willing worker, and the Home Office had absolutely no case against him. moreover, the fact that he was not sentenced to hard labour is an additional proof of the state of his health. That he should be returned to prison with no charge formulated against him was scandalous, and now he has been treated to another sample of the manner in which Government pledges are “kept.” He can be sure that the matter is not being allowed to rest at this end.

A GUARD-ROOM MESSAGE

h3, From The Tribunal 3rd January 1918

This is a further update in a series of extracts from the No Conscription Fellowship’s journal, published in the UK between March 1916 and November 1918
For other extracts go to: http://nfpb.org.uk/tribunal

We take the following extracts from a letter from a conscientious objector written in the guard-room after release from Wormwood Scrubs Prison. He is now back in prison with a sentence of two years’ hard labour:-

“The sensation of release is difficult to describe. When the large doors open and one passes from the great silence into the noise and bustle of the old world, a feeling of awe overcomes one. Even the most trivial things seem unique….I remember the first thing I saw was a man on a bicycle, he looked so curious and I was greatly struck and interested. This will indicate to you the effect everything had on me and with what profound interest the old world unfolded itself.

“At Waterloo Station I was greeted by many soldiers whom I met in camp six months ago – we had not forgotten each other, and our greetings were most cordial…. The fellows here have a great respect for C.O.‘s who defy the authorities; they trust us a great deal and admire our stand. I have found a marked alteration in their attitude, Not one man has reproached me for being a C.O., but all of them do not hide their opposition to the continuance of the war, and feel that C.O.‘s are the only persons who are really bringing peace nearer…. Every evening about a dozen of us sit around the fire and they bombard me with questions. Filled with humane feeling, these men talk of their dead and maimed comrades with tearful eyes, and they share with me the hopes for the future. If the war continues much longer, I believe the authorities will be faced with a serious revolt…

“During the last few months the Army has had a large influx of young recruits; some are only 15, 16 and 17 years, and it is pathetic to see the little lads trying to be brave and happy. I’ve had them with me weeping for home, comfort, and sympathy…. What permanent effect life in the army will have on these lads I do not know. Most have lost all self-respect and sense of decency. The language is simply filthy; the conversation base and immoral, and the general attitude to the Army is expressed by words ‘Fed up.’…. I can well understand those who have had experience of camps opposing military service because of the demoralisation it causes. This huge, ghastly monster is here presented naked before my eyes. I can see its sham grandeur.

“Out of this morass of degradation can there ever emerge any hope of the dawn of a better day? My answer is unreservedly “Yes!” There is hope! There is a greater future for my brethren because a few have had the will and the courage to hold fast to truth, love, faith and hope…”

REPORT ON 243A, PRISON REGULATIONS

From The Tribunal 27th December 1917

This is a further update in a series of extracts from the No Conscription Fellowship’s journal, published in the Uk between March 1916 and November 1918
_For further extracts go to:_http://nfpb.org.uk/tribunal

UNDER WHICH CONCESSIONS ARE TO BE MADE TO C.O.‘S WHO HAVE SERVED ONE YEAR’S IMPRISONMENT AND GAINED A CERTAIN NUMBER OF MARKS: AS REPORTED BY C.O.‘S IN VARIOUS PRISONS

1. EXERCISE. – The period of exercise is extended from 40 minutes to one hour – 30 minutes in the morning and 30 minutes in the afternoon.

2. CONVERSATION. – Prisoners are allowed to converse with their partner during exercise. Before this regulation prisoners usually walked in single file, they are now to walk in pairs. In one prison at least the men are allowed to choose their partner for each period of exercise.

3. BOOKS. – Prisoners are allowed to have four books of their own in their cell. It appears that additional books may be sent to the prison, number depending on the accommodation in the library. These books must not deal with the war or current political matters.

4. LETTERS. – Prisoners to write and receive a letter once a fortnight instead of once a month, but such letters and the replies are not to exceed one sheet of notepaper of the ordinary size; as a general rule at the present prisoners are allowed to make their monthly letter somewhat longer than this.

5. VISITS. – Prisoners to be allowed a visit of 15 minutes once monthly instead of 30 minutes once a month. At Wandsworth the prisoners went “en bloc” to the Governor and pointed out that to reduce the length of the visit by half was an absurd “concession.” He wrote to the Home Office and has now informed them that they have 30 minutes as before. On the other hand, the Governor of Pentonville, in an official letter dated December 11th, 1917, stated that A———- “will be entitled to write and receive a letter once a fortnight, and a visit of 15 minutes once a month.”

6. CLOTHING. – Prisoners are permitted to wear their own clothing. In one prison they have permitted to keep their overcoats in their cells, and also have been informed that they can, if they like, wear the prison underclothing under their own suits. This is an advantage as men are only allowed one set of their underclothing, and at least they can have a change and send the prison underclothing to the prison laundry.

7. CLEANING CELL. – Prisoners are permitted to have the service of another prisoner if desired, to keep their cell and utensils clean at a small charge. In some prisons this is 6d. a day.

The above “concessions” seem to be general. But in addition in one particular prison the regulation has been applied to their work as as follows:-

“Work in the woodyard has been knocked off as too heavy: other work remains the same, and the men are still tasked the same amount per day, but they have been told that if anyone feels his task too heavy he is to report to the Governor.”

BENEATH BIG BEN

From The Tribunal December 6th 1917

_ This is a further update in a series of extracts from the No Conscription Fellowship’s journal, published in the UK between March 1916 and November 1918_
_For other extracts go to:_http://nfpb.org.uk

From our Parliamentary Correspondent.

The problem of the conscientious objector still continues to exercise the minds of the House of Lords. On November 28th. Lord Charnwood moved that all conscientious objectors should be deported as a danger to the State and that teacher conscientious objectors should be debarred from the future training of the children. Among other things the noble lord described them as a hard, vicious lot of people, while lord Lambourne improved the occasion by imparting to his distinguished colleagues that: “My own firm belief is that out of a hundred so-called conscientious objectors – and I expressly exclude the Quaker sect – fifty are cowards, thirty are cranks , and the remaining twenty may be honest men. I believe that the indulgence shown to these men has not only encouraged them to what I believe to be unpatriotic conduct, but has encouraged others to follow their example.” Lord Lambourne as Colonel Lockwood represented Epping in the House of Commons for many years. He was famous in the world of sport for his decorative waistcoats and buttonholes and for sketches of dubious art with which he used to beguile the tedium of the House of Commons. Lord Charnwood has even less claim to distinction. As Mr. G.R. Benson he represented the Woodstock division in the House of Commons in the Liberal interest from 1892 to 1895. History has no other record.

The motion was opposed by Lord Crewe on behalf of the Government, who stated there was no intention “of extending the scope of the indulgence of exemption, now given to conscientious objectors.” Lord Parmoor, Lord Courtney, and Lord Gainford spoke against the motion, which was withdrawn.

By the time these lines appear in print it is hoped the House of Commons will have had an opportunity to reconsider its decision to disenfranchise conscientious objectors.

The atmosphere of the Commons is less oppressive than at any time during the last three years. Lord Hugh Cecil and Mr. Adamson’s speeches on disenfranchisement, Mr. Henderson’s open opposition to censorship of leaflets, and Lord Lansdowne’s letter have all contributed to clarify the air and to impart an untoward feeling of self-respect to Members of Parliament. The necromancy of the Welsh Wizard is being found out and the supply of hot air seems to evaporate much more quickly. I would advise the secret service to give eye and ear to the smoking room of the House of Commons; it is a very hotbed of seditious talk, and if not stopped someone might repeat some of the utterances withing the hearing of the common people who might be vulgar enough to give serious heed.

Talk of a Stockholm Conference has been revised, and it is rumoured that the Government will find itself in a much weaker position than when Count Czernin made his offer a few weeks back. The cards have now passed from the hands of the British statesmen.

On Monday last an influential conference representative of politics, literature and science was summoned under the signatures of Lord Parmoor, and Mr. R.D. Holt to consider ways and means of opposing D.O.R.A (27C), the censorship of leaflets, a powerful and significant combination.

The revised constitution of the Labour Party is being widely discussed and quite a number of Members of Parliament who are adherents to the Liberal Party are contemplating fighting their next electoral contest under the banner of Labour. I have met with one or two fairly prominent Nonconformist ministers who will join the Party while the “Medical World” announces that “among the Labour Party condidates at the next General Election there are likely to be ten or a dozen medical men pledged to support a programme of State Medical Service.

Snow stops play - but peace must go on

Snowflake image

NFPB was due to meet on 3rd March in Carlisle. As we approached the weekend, however, it became clear that – well, that roads and rail routes to the city and to the Meeting House were unlikely to be clear. Emails sent to all our members two days before managed to reach nearly all with the announcement that we would not be going ahead with a meeting on that date. Friends locally and further afield were grateful to have this decision made.

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