Challenging Militarism


From The Tribunal May 23rd 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 further extracts go to:

In our last issue we strongly urged our readers to procure Prof. Peake’s new boom, “Prisoners of Hope, the Problem of the Conscientious Objector.” We take the following from Chapter IV., in which Prof. Peake discusses and answers the criticism that it is base for objectors to accept the privileges of the their country and yet refuse to defend it.

  • * *
    A man may love his country with passionate intensity, he may be willing to die for it, but he ought not to sin for it. And for these men war, not simply in the act of slaughter, but in all its ramifications, is sin. It is useless to say that they are wrong. Probably no martyr has ever suffered but a large body of opinion has thought him wrong. We are up against an ultimate fact. These men are prepared to suffer the stigma and the penalty of disloyalty to their country that they may not be traitors to the King of Kings. They have not flinched when the death sentence has been pronounced, nor even when its execution seemed imminent.

It is not quite easy for us to find a good modern parallel which should exhibit the principle, detached from all the heat and prejudice in which our problem is involved. But on the question of loyalty in the time of war I recall the case of Jeremiah. When the seige of Jeruslame was in progress he advocated a pro-Bablylonian policy. He encouraged desertion to the enemy, he counselled surrender. No wonder that the military authorities demanded his punishment on the ground that he was weakening the defence of the city, or that he was flung into a noisome pit, there to perish of starvation. Not only did he undertake no military duty, he carried on an active propaganda against the war. A greatly respected Principal of a theological college once said to me that they ought to have taken him out and shot him. He was referring, of course, to the duty of the authorities from a military point of view. But had they done so, we should have seen in his murder at once a blunder and a crime. No one can have studied the career of Jeremiah with any attention and failed to recognise the loftiness and intensity of his patriotism. it was his clear-sighted devotion to his country which was the animating principle of his stop-the-war campaign. The generation which built the tombs of the prophets could send the Son of God to the Cross, and we who write our commentaries on Jeremiah, which breathe deep love and passionate admiration for the supreme figure among the prophets, may fitly ask ourselves how such a man with such a message would fare at the hands of this generation.


From The Tribunal May 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:

In the “Manchester Guardian” for May 2nd. there appeared a forcible letter from Professor Herford on “Hunger in Prison.” “At what point,” he asks, “do the sufferings we class as the normal and proper hardship of prison pass over into those which we class and repudiate as torture?” And he goes on to quote from a prisoner’s note, sent him from the C.O. Information Bureau:-

“The test of the diet does not come until all the resources of the body has been brought down to the irreducible minimum and rest entirely upon the nourishment provided. . . The common experience is that a man passes into one or all three of the following stages:- (1) Merely very hungry all day. (2) hunger more acute, with pain in the stomach intermittently. (3) extreme weakness, nervousness, and constant and very acute pain. There is a sharp contraction of the muscles, the face may be seen (or, more bitterly, felt) to twitch with pain, and the face also becomes dark, particularly about the eyes, Some of the men, in one or other of these stages, may be sent to hospital; many recover somewhat by lying down every available moment; not that they need rest, but if you lie down you do not feel hungry so soon. . . .”
“Does not this slow elimination of life,” asks the professor, -“for, carried through a two year sentence, it is nothing less – bear an unpleasant resemblance to the gradual executions of China, where the suspended culprit hangs with the tip of his toes touching the ground? Is it, in any case, to be tolerated in an English prison?”

We are exceeding glad that Prof. Herford has drawn public attention to this grave scandal. From every prison come reports that the quotation given is in no way exaggerated, and that the long months of semi-starvation are exacting their toll in physical and mental breakdown. We are indeed glad the public should be told of this torture inflicted, not only on C.O.s, but on other prisoners, a torture that we cannot believe would be tolerated for a day longer, were it once understood.

Whilst we recognise that a statement of what C.O.s are undergoing is valuable in so far as it enables the public to realise their determination to stand for their principles, we know that nothing is further from the desires of the men in prison that they should be released on the ground of the suffering they have undergone, instead of principles. They claim release and we claim it for them, not as an act of mercy but simple justice, and we demand that that justice shall no longer be delayed.


From The Tribunal May 9th 2018

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:

An Appeal from the J.A.C. To the Editor of the “Tribunal.”

It is becoming increasingly evident that it will be necessary to make provision against time when the men now in prison under the Military Service Acts will be released. In a number of cases, their health, physical and mental, has suffered, and a period of rest and recuperation will be needed before they will be fit to take up work.

The Joint Advisory Committee of the N.C.F.. F.O.R., and F.S.C. has undertaken to see to it that, as far as may be possible, those who have suffered may not lack the means of recovering their strength which they have so generously sacrificed for the cause of peace and freedom, and have asked me to act on their behalf. I should be grateful therefore, if:-

1. Those able and willing to accommodate one or more of these men in their homes for a limited period, those willing to contribute towards expenses entailed in boarding men where such expenses are incurred, and those who can recommend suitable convalescent homes, boarding houses, etc., would inform us.

2. Relations and friends of C.O.‘s and Secs. of organisations in touch with the C.O. movement would report cases of men needing convalescent treatment and unable to provide the same themselves. The name and address of the person sending information should be given for reference. All communication should be addressed to me, c/o The Fellowship of Reconciliation, 17 Red Lion Square, WC1.

I am, yours faithfully


From The Tribunal May 2nd 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:_

The following account has been sent to us by one of our members:

“On March 22nd. F. Edwards, one of the men in the N.C.F. Branch appealed before the Willesden Tribunal on conscience grounds for exemption from Military Service. There was very clear proof that his case was genuine, for the work he is doing in the post office is so important that he was told if he would agree to be in “Army Reserve W” he would not be called upon for military service. Edwards said that as a conscientious objector it was impossible for him to agree to this, and consequently received a calling-up notice. When he had stated his case before the Tribunal one member moved that his appeal be dismissed, and this was seconded. Then an unlooked-for incident occurred. One of the members of the Tribunal who has been particularly hard on C.O.‘s rose, and said very forcibly and deliberately that he wished to move an amendment, partly in justice to the applicant, who, he thought, has proved to them all that his objection was genuine, and that therefore he was as much entitled to exemption under the act as a Clerk in Holy orders, but also because he wished to protest against the continued imprisonment of C.O.‘s. He admitted his mistake in sending many men to prison, he regretted it, but he intended publicly to raise his voice against the injustice now whenever he had the opportunity. The men who have suffered imprisonment have won his respect and support, though he does not hold their views. His amendment was seconded by another member of the tribunal, who also spoke strongly against the repeated sentences of imprisonment meted out to the [email protected] for the same offence. One curious thing was that the military representative nodded his head during these speeches as if in approval. The amendment was not carried, and the case was dismissed, Edwards giving notice of appeal. Edwards went home rejoicing that the men in prison had accomplished this change of thinking in those two members of the Tribunal – his own case being quite a secondary thing to him.”


From The Tribunal April 25th 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 toL

The Tribunal keeps Scotland Road busy. Once more we have had to change our printer. This time the authorities adopted the method of smashing up the whole of our printer’s plant and converting it into scrap iron without any warning, because they were annoyed by an issue of “The Tribunal.” Evidently what “The Tribunal” says is of no small importance.


The following is the statement of what happened at his works, sent us by Mr. Street, the printer of “The Tribunal”:

“On Monday afternoon, April 22nd, 1918, at about 3 o’clock, six police officers entered my printing works at 4 Blegborough Road, Streatham, S.W.

The officer who seemed to be in charge asked if my named was Samuel Howells Street, and did I print “The Tribunal for April 11th? I answered, ‘I did.’ He then told me he was instructed to break up the whole of my plant and machinery. They produced no warrant. I told him that part of it was not mine, but belonged to the landlady, Mrs. Love, and it was on the premises when I took them. He told me that it did not matter, he must carry out his instructions and at once told his men to continue.

They started taking the machines to pieces by unscrewing them, but when they found any difficulty, they simply broke the piece off. In this way they have completely ruined a Crown folio cropper, a Crown folio handpress, a Foolscap folio Mofitts, Empress platen, and a Foolscap folio cropper.

They then started throwing the parts into separate boxes, and put them in the cart. They then took the forms and standing matter, split what was tied up, and the books, invoices and stationery, the ‘copy’ of jobs that were in that place.

Again I remonstrated with them about Mrs. Love’s part of the plant, but they would not hear me.

Belonging to Mrs love there was: half h.p. gas engine, Crown folio cropper, Foolscap folio cropper and about six hundredweight of type in cases.

Of my plant there was: Foolscap folio platen machine, Crown folio handpress, 20 inch cutting machine, all the fittings, and two and half tons of type, about 4 cwt. of paper (value about £15.)

The same amount of plant could not be bought today for than £480 or £500.”


The same day (Monday, April 22nd) three detectives from Scotland Yard visited the publishing office of “The Tribunal,” 5 York Buildings, Adelphi, W>C>, and asked to see the publisher, Miss Joan Beauchamp. They asked if she was still publisher of “The Tribunal.” She said she was. They then asked if she was responsible for the back page of the issue of April 11th, and she replied in the affirmative. They next asked who was the editor of the paper, and this she declined to tell them, and efter warning her of the consequences of refusing information, began to search the office. In the course of their investigation, they happened upon an old newspaper cutting referring to Hubert W. Peet and a brilliant inspiration struck them – surely he was the editor? They seemed a little disappointed on learning that our comrade had been in prison nearly two years. After a prolonged search they left the office carrying with them a number of books and papers.


As our readers know, this is not the first time that Scotland Yard has found “The Tribunal” of absorbing interest. On February 9th, 1918, the Hon. Bertrand Russell, R.R.S., was sentenced to six months’ imprisonment for a passage in an article which appeared in our issue of Jan. 3rd, and Miss J. Beauchamp was fined £60 and costs for publishing the same. The appeal against these sentences has not yet been heard. On the same date Miss Beauchamp was also summoned for publishing a “Guardroom Message,” which appeared in the same issue, but after hearing that witnesses to the truth of the message were to be brought forward, the public prosecutor asked that the case should be adjourned sine die.

The issue for the week following the prosecution contained an article on the “Moral Aspects of Conscription,” by Miss Joan Beauchamp. The police seized all copies they could find of this issue, and not content with that, dismantled the National Labour Press, who were at that time printing “The Tribunal.”


We know full well that there is no limit to the power of the D.O.R.A.. that there is no act of suppression or oppression which cannot be committed in her name. The press in this country is no longer free; it is bound hand and foot, and is the servile tool of those who would fasten militarism upon us. But in spite of that we still believe that the liberty of the press is as much worth struggling for, and being persecuted for, as it was in the days gone by.

We are not daunted. We shall go on with the message which we believe it is our duty to deliver. We are trying to show the world – Scotland Yard included – the vision of that new way of life in which the methods of violence have no part. We have no fear of the ultimate results of the conflict between the spirit of violence and the ideal for which we stand.


From The Tribunal April 18th 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:

Corder Catchpool, a Quaker C.O., has been awarded the 1914 (Mons) Star for ambulance work at the front. Catchpool joined the Friends Ambulance Unit in September 1914, and served in France and Flanders – (the latter part of the time as Adjutent), till May 1916, when he came home because he felt he could serve the cause of peace better there than at the front. He went before the Tribunals, and was given exemption from combatant service. Eventually he was arrested as an absentee on 12th January, 1917. Since that time he has divided his time between serving one sentence of 112 days in Wormwood Scrubs, six months in Exeter Prison, and a third of six months in Ipswich prison. While he was serving this last sentence the ribbon of the (Mons) Star was sent into prison for him, and the Governor of the prison sent for him and pinned it on. He is now waiting for an escort to take him to prison for a fourth time. In his statement before the District Court Martial on Thursday 26th March, he said:-

“I am a lifelong member of the Society of Friends, and am fully persuaded of the incompatibility of Christianity and War.

“Towards the close of my third imprisonment I thought out a careful defence in anticipation of the present D.C. M. On the day of discharge, when returning under escort to the Battalion, I heard of the awful struggle which has just broken out with fresh intensity in France. Words seem a mockery at such a time, and I have therefor determined not to detain the Court with a detailed explanation of my own case. There is hardly a moment when my thoughts are not with the men in France, eager to help the wounded by immediate human touch with their suffering. This I was privileged to do during the nineteen months spent at the front with the F.A.U., from October, 1914 to May, 1916, while it was still possible to give voluntary service. At times the impulse to return to the work becomes almost irresistable. May God steady me, and keep me faithful to a call I have heard above the roar of guns. In the feverish activity of my hands, i might help to save fraction of the present human wreakage; that would be for me no sacrifice. It costs far more to spend mind and spirit, if need be in the silence of a prison cell, in passionate witness for the great Truths of Peace. That is the call I hear. I believe that only spiritual influence will avail to free the world at last from war. to save our soldiers’ little ones, and confused struggling humanity itself, from all that men an women are suffering now. I honour those who, in loyalty to conscience have gone out to fight. In a crisis like the present, it would be unbecoming to elaborate the convictions that have led me to a cause so different. To-day a man must act.

I believe with the strength of my whole being that, standing here, I am enlisted in Active Service as a soldier of Jesus Christ, who bids man be true to the sense of duty that is laid upon his soul.”


From The Tribunal April 11th 1918

This is a further update in a series of extracts from the No Conscription Fellowship’s journal, published in the UK between March 196 and November 1918
For other extracts go to:


1. Every worker kept in his place.

2. Trade unionism crushed, and any attempt at combination on the part of the workers sternly discouraged.

3. The worker educated to make an efficient cog in the military machine, and taught by a servile press only what his masters consider good for him.

4. Everything in civil life decided by military necessity.

5. The yoke of conscription fastened upon the neck of labour so that by military discipline revolt shall be made impossible.

6. Large standing armies maintained; armaments piled up, and enormous Government contracts for shipbuilding, gunpowder, rifles, food, clothing, etc., assured to the capitalists.

7. Economic war between the nations continued and suspicion fostered by secret diplomacy.

8. Fresh wars sprung upon the peoples for the financiers’ benefit when enough armaments have been prepared.

In short, the world kept in bondage to fear.


1. Individual liberty for all.

2. The workers of the world united in mutual trust and helpfulness.

3. Education such that each can develop his powers to the full.

4. Freedom of choice for all, so that evey one can contribute his utmost to the common good.

5. Conscription abolished in all countries.

6. Universal disarmament, the aim of production to be for use and beauty – not for destruction and death.

7. Economic co-operation between all nations with full exchange of ideas – scientific, aesthetic, and spiritual.

8. Peace on earth, goodwill to men.

9. In short, the world cradled in freedom and learning through joy.


Quaker Activist Gathering

Saturday, November 3, 2018

at Lancaster Meeting House . “An action-focused day for Quakers who identify as activists, framed in worship. It will be a day to make connections, build common cause, deepen our action through exploring the Quaker aspect of it, and discover how we can work more effectively.” Info and booking details (book by 15th October)

UK WILPF Lobby Training Day

Saturday, September 8, 2018

with Greater Mcr and District CND 10.30am – 16.00 pm at Bridge 5 Mill, 22a Beswick Street, M4 7HR Manchester.
More info To register your attendance, please RSVP by emailing [email protected]. Find out more on the event’s Facebook page here .

Correspondence: Release or Imprisonment/

From The Trinunal March 21st 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:

To the Editor of The Tribunal

Dear Comrade, – I am taking advantage of the opportunity afforded to me by the brief interval between the sentence of imprisonment which I have just completed and the one which I will begin in a few days, to impress upon the readers of the “Tribunal” the grave and urgent necessity of continuing with greater vigour than ever before the agitation and demand for the release of the absolutists.

I have just finished reading the two letters which appeared under the above heading in the issue of the “Tribunal” for February 28th, the one by Douglas Bishop, and the other by Oswald Clark. With the letter of Douglas Bishop I am wholeheartedly in agreement, and on behalf of many hundreds of absolutists C.O.‘s , as well as their relatives, I give him my sincere and hearty thanks. But with Comrade Clark’s demand that we should place “Peace” before “Release” in our programme, I cannot at all agree. The No-Conscription Fellowship is not merely a Peace Association. It is true that we earnestly desire, and are willing to work for peace, but the Fellowship did not come into existence merely as a Peace Society; it had a special object in view. The first and foremost object of the No-Conscription Fellowship is, and ought to be, as its name suggests – no conscription. Our purpose and an N.C.F. must be the defeat of conscription, and one of the surest ways to defeat conscription is to obtain the early and, if possible, the immediate release of the absolutists.

Apart from the defeat of conscription, both the N.C.F. and the Friends’ Service Committee believe in the sacredness of life. Knowing this, as I do, I am not only unhappy, as Douglas Bishop says, but I am surprised and amazed to read of the recent decision of the Friends’ Service who maintain that “it is better for absolutists to remain in prison until public opinion is in favour of their release rather than that those outside who hold similar views should demand the release of these men.” For what does that decision mean? It means this. The absolutists who are now in prison will have to remain in prison for many years to come, and at the end of that time I am afraid that many of our comrades will have passed to life beyond, and may others will be complete physical and mental wrecks. I have spent the last eighteen months in and out of prison in studying closely the absolutist question, and I do not make that statement without full and careful consideration.

What the Friends’ Service Committee ought to do, in my opinion, is not to wait until the public is in favour of their release,” but instead to make the public acquainted with the facts. For there is a large section of the public who do not know of the stand of the absolutist, so careful is the Government and Press to give publicity only to the men who accept the scheme.

There are some among our comrades whose temperament is such that prison life has little effect on them, and others who believe in suffering for suffering’s sake, but these comrades should not say “do not agitate for us,” they are only entitled to say “do not agitate for me.” If something is not done withing the next twelve monts the services of many of our friends will be last to causes of progress, but perhaps that is the object of the Government. – Yours fraternally,
Arthur L.G. Williams,
No.7 Hut, N.C.C., E2 Lines,
Park Hall Camp, Oswestry,
March 9th, 1918


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