Challenging Militarism

Quakers and European Politics

Friday, February 9, 2018 to Sunday, February 11, 2018

Speaking Out About Peace

Tuesday, November 7, 2017 to Tuesday, December 5, 2017


Monday, September 4, 2017 to Monday, September 11, 2017

with the main focus of events being at the Excel Centre, Docklands, London, during the week of 4-11 September, there are also activities before and after, including Art the Arms Fair and vigils in other parts of the country. Full listing of related events


From The Tribunal 12th July 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:_

In reply to a question on July 5th, Mr. Macpherson stated in the House of Commons that Davies, Garland, Keighley, Middleton, and Price, the men sent to France at the beginning of the month, were “irregularly” sent abroad, and “should have been remanded for trial by court-martial in this country.” At the time of answering the question he had not managed to discover where these men actually were. The following letter was received by the parents of Davies when they wrote to the War Office to enquire of his whereabouts:

2nd July 1917.
Dear sir, – In reply to your letter of the 29th June regarding your son Joseph Davies, you may rest assured that if sentenced to imprisonment in France he will be returned to this country forthwith. I have not at the moment accurate information as to his whereabouts, but as soon as I am aware I will make a point of communicating the information to you.

It may be some reassurance to you to be informed that the current rumour that conscientious objectors are being spirited away to France with the object of their being shot is wholly untrue, and you need have no fear whatever in that regard. The last thing I desire is that men should be sent to France under improper conditions as it only entails their being brought back again and al loss of money to the public.
Yours faithfully.
(Signed) B. W. Childs,
Brig. General
Director of Personal Services
War Office,
Whitehall, S.W.

As we go to press we learn that all five men have been returned to England.


From The Tribunal 14th Jun 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:-_

The Cells, No. 4 Parkhouse Camp, Salisbury Plain May 31st 1917

Dear comrades,

I have decided not to send a long written message to the Fellowship. Something more vital is wanted now. I have just read the Russian demand for an unequivocal statement by the Allies on the question of peace terms. It has thrilled me with a sense of the responsibility we C.O.’s share in the great movement towards liberty which is surging up in the life of almost every nation.

I am overjoyed by the thought that we have already contributed so much to the re-awakening of the spirit of freedom in our own country.

The next few months will, however, make an even heavier demand upon our courage and faith. All through the intricacies of our struggle we must avoid anything which might tarnish our own self-respect or our sense of corporate responsibility. Upon individual character and an ever-deepening belief that the strongest unity will come from the love of service depends the life of the Fellowship in the future.

The most living message I can send at this time when our hope is very near its first fulfilment is a copy of the letter I am to-day sending to the Prime Minister. The great task before each man is always to weigh the individual sense of duty with unwavering loyalty to the movement as a whole. In this there should be the most intimate confidence between the members of the Fellowship and the National Committee.

Public Statement on the Adoption of The Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons

NFPB member Janet Fenton, with Tim Wallis representing Quakers in Britain, were present in New York during the negotiations to agree a Treaty to prohibit Nuclear Weapons. On Friday 7th July 122 states agreed this treaty and our Friends were part of a multi-faith group that issued the following statement:


Public Statement on the Adoption of The Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons

Faith Communities Concerned about Nuclear Weapons


From The Tribunal 21st June 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 Novemeber 1918
For other extracts go to:

Still another name has been added to the growing list of those who lost their lives to the crusade against militarism. We have sorrowfully to record the death on May 27th, at his home in Strathnairn Street, Cardiff, of John Evans, a young clerk of 24, formerly in the employ of a well-known local firm. Evans did not belong to any political or kindred organisation, but was a member of the Tredegarville Baptist Church, and was privately studying for the ministry. Almost from his cradle he was a true Christian, simple and unassuming to a degree, but absolutely rocklike in his faith and determination. His early ambition had been to become a missionary at the Congo, a choice of locale which proved his indifference to personal danger. Evans could accept no form of military service, though he was prepared to do civil work of national importance. Having refused to join the Non-Combatant Corps, he was court-martialed on June 23rd and sentenced to 112 days’ hard labour. During the imprisonment – at Cardiff Gaol – he was offered and accepted the Home Office scheme, yet he was compelled to serve his sentence through to September. His health first became affected by the prison diet, which he could not assimilate. But the prison doctor passed him as fit for navvying, and a few hours later he was removed without notice to Newhaven (Home Office) Camp. Road-making under the conditions prevailing up to Christmas, and when the accommodation was limited to tents, before the new huts were ready, was hardly likely to suit a man emaciated from prison life. John Evans gradually declined, but not a word of complaint reached his home, which he was still not allowed to visit. After six months at Newhaven where the official doctor declared him free of organic diseasr, he was sent to Wakefield Centre, the Medical Officer of which certified him to be in advanced stage of consumption. On Easter Monday of this year the mother heard indirectly and for the first time of his serious condition, and application to the Home Office resulted in permission being given to bring the dying lad home. Before leaving the camp he was given an official discharge by the agent. The strong and sturdy youth who had left home on June 8th, 1916, “never having had a day’s illness,” as his mother said, breathed his last on Whit-Sunday of 1917. He died in the flower of his youth, feeling to the end no bitterness or reproach, consious only that he had done his duty and served his only Master. Those who are left behind may be pardoned for a less saintlike attitude towards certain authorities – the man who have maladministered the Military Service Acts, and those who under the pretence of furnishing work of national importance, have imposed injurious and punishing conditions of labour.

John Evans gave his life willingly for his faith. He believed the war was wrong and that Christ would have taken no part in it, and that it was his duty to follow his Master, no matter what the consequences. The minister who had known him all his life and who performed the last sad rites, called him a very brave and noble soul. The superintendent of the Sunday School he had always attended, was moved to say: “I did not agree with John’s views, but I am bound to say that he was as much a victiom of the war as any soldier who has fallen in the trenches.”

Hope in challenging times

NFPB members met in Dumfries on 17th June. More than 30 Friends were present, including a number from Dumfries and from Castle Douglas Quaker Meetings. We met on the same day that a large demonstration was taking place in New York, with women calling for a ban on nuclear weapons.

NFPB members in Dumfries


From The Tribunal 23rd November 1916

_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 Novemeber 1918\\-
For other extracts go to:

Miss Stevens, Secretary of the Leicester Branch, sends us a copy of a letter from H.G. Twilley, describing the very useful way in which he
and three other “C.O.’s” passed their time in a guard-room. He says:- “Last evening . . . . we turned the Government out! There are two guard-rooms here, and we invited the soldiers into one room. The wooden beds were so arranged as to resemble benches down each side of the smaller room, and the House of Commons was the result.

The personnel of the ‘House’ was as follows:- M.P. for West Birmingham (Conservative), H. Stoddart; M.P. for Stirling Burghs (Liberal), A. Britain; M.P. for Leicester (Labour), A.E. Gomportyz, Mr. Speaker, H.G. Twilley. Speeches were delivered in the order above named, Stoddart offering the last man and the last shilling with characteristic generosity. He was for continuing the war until the ‘military domination of Prussia was finally destroyed.’ It was a difficult matter to keep his fiery eloquence under sufficient restraint to prevent interuptions by the Military Police in the adjoining room.

The Hon. Member for Storling followed in a dignified speech appealing for a more reasonable point of view and suggesting that the Government should pause and review the military situation and the possibility of opening negotiations with the enemy.

“The hon. Member for Leicester then put the point of view of the extreme Socialist wing of the Labour Party, and condemned with the utmost vigour the mistaken policy of the Foreign Office in having involved this country in obligations to other Powers which made a participation in the war inevitable; and charged the Government with betraying the people by its secret and mistaken diplomacy during the last few years (subdued cheers). Two soldiers were appointed tellers by Mr. Speaker for the Government, and the Opposition – the solders were respectively the hon. Members for the city of London and Liverpool – and the division resulted as follows:-

“Two solders entered the ‘Aye lobby’ (for continuing the war); sixteen soldiers and nine C.O.’s went into the ‘No lobby’ (for immediate negotiations for Peace) . . . . .
“The soldiers were very interested, and all express the hope that it will be a long time before we part from them, a hope, which for other reasons, I do not share as there are other inhabitants (microscopic) which are not such fascinating companions.”


From The Tribunal 9th November 1916

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:

Friendly aliens of military age resident in this country were given until October 25th to volunteer for service in the British Army. If they failed to enlist by that dare, Mr. Herbert Samuel, the Home Secretary, threatened them with conscription or deportation. More than a fortnight has passed since that fatal day, but, at the time of writing, nothing has been heard of the dire penalties foreshadowed.

We hope this silence means that the Government has thought better of its proposed policy. Infamous as conscription under all circumstances, the conscription of subjects of another nation, with the alternative of deportation, is doubly infamous. True, it has been suggested that Tribunals should be established to safeguard refugees from deportation, but we should have thought that the experience the nation has had of Tribunals would have been sufficient proof of their futility as a means of safeguarding anybody against anything. Moreover, has the Government the right to assume that the subjects of another nation would consent to appear before any Tribunal it chose to set up?

If the Government decides to proceed with its scheme it will find itself confronted by a much bigger problem thn it anticipates. Many hundreds of friendly aliens have sought refuge in this country as a means of escape from political persecution in Russia. They are Anti-militarists. They are Socialists. They are Anti-Imperialists. They see in the war the triumphs of all the evils against which they struggled in the land of their birth. Many of them are Jews. They know the War has resulted in an increase of the oppression from which their people have for generations suffered.

The Government ought not to be surprised that the recruiting campaign among these men has failed. It would do well to realise that any effort to conscript them will fail equally. Already they have organised themselves into a Russian Anti-Conscription League with branches in all the larger towns of the country, so that they may the more effectively resist the imposition of compulsory military service. The historic policy of Continental Anti-Militarists has been to join the Army and to take advantage of the opportunities thus provided to carry on their propaganda. It is not without significance that the Russian Anti-Militarists in this country have decided to follow the policy of British conscientious objectors by pledging themselves to resist military service altogether…

A. Fenner Brockway


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