WW1

TERRIBLE TREATMENT OF A C.O. IN DETENTION BARRACKS

From The Tribunal, March 14th 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

A shocking case of the ill-treatment of a Conscientious Objector at the hands of the military has just come to light, and illustrates in a forcible manner the brutality which exists in Military Detention Barracks.

Maurice Andrews, of Aberaman, a Russian Jew, aged 22, who left Russia at the age of seven, was arrested last December, court-martialled at Wrexham on January 22nd, and sent to Hereford Detention Barracks to serve a sentence of 56 days detention. There he was ordered to put on uniform and refused. What happened to him is described in a letter written on March 3rd by a friend who had just visited him in the gruard-room at Wrexham, whither he has been returned for another court-martial:-

“Poor fellow! He has been treated worse than a dog bu the military authorities. He has only been in their hands two months, and the biggest part of the time he has served in Hereford Military Prison. He is practically a physical wreck. He was shivering when I spoke to him this morning, as the guard-room was covered with ice. I will try to relate to you what he told me he had been through. He was sent from Wrexham to Hereford. There he refused to recognise orders. They stripped him of his civies, and left him in a cold cell in a singlet and pants for eight days. They refused to return his civvies, forced him into khaki and put him in a padded cell. They were strapping his hands behind his back for four hours every day. They relinquished the strap torture for the handcuffs, but afterwards found he could unloose his trousers with his handcuffs on, and they again used the strap. His wrists, poor fellow, I think he will bear bear the marks for life. He was put on No. 1 diet for two or three days a week. He hunger struck for two and a half days as a protest against this agony. Then they brought him before the Chief Commandant, but he was forced to wear khaki to return to Wrexham. He is in danger of physical collapse.”

And all this in spite of the fact that is clearly laid down in the Army Act that brutality is illegal! But this state of affairs in military detention barracks is only part and parcel of the whole brutal military machine. A soldier, who was recently giving some account of life in detention barracks, added: “But unless they make detention so terrible that a man would do anything sooner than endure it again, they would never keep discipline in the Army.” Could there be a stronger indictment of the whole system?

Andrews has now been court-martialled again, and is awaiting the promulgation of his sentence. He is clearly in no condition to face further imprisonment, even in a civil prison, to which, as a Conscientious Objector, he should have been sent in the first instance. The least that the authorities can do, in face of what he has suffered, is to discharge him from the Army.

WHAT A SOLDIER THINKS

From The Tribunal March 7th 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: http://nfpb.org.uk/tribunal

CAPTAIN GWNNE, M.p., ON CONSCIENTIOUS OBJECTORS.

Speaking in the House of Commons on June 26th, 1917, Captain Gwynne, M.P. said:

“These are people who are not a blight upon the community; they may prove to be the very salt of the community. I am speaking now as one who has seen war. I think that everybody who has seen war has one governing desire, and that is to see war abolished from the world. I am not at all sure that these people, whom we propose to reject as outcasts of the State, may not be the best people to help in the fight to make an end of war. There is one thing that nobody can deny them, and that is courage, the most difficult form of courage in this world, the courage of the individual against the crowd. That is a courage which every State will do well to protect and guard. That is the courage which, above all others, makes for freedom. It is for that that I desire to see these men electors, and that I vote for giving them votes – just exactly as I would give votes to the soldiers – because they are the people who have shown not merely physical courage, but because they have made civic responsibility their plea. They have shown a spirit of initiative. These people, in refusing to act, have taken action which must have been extremely difficult to take, and when we are told that the good of the nation is somehow impaired by allowing these men a voice in our national councils, I ask myself. ‘What is the good of the nation’? Are you going to advance the real interests of this country, or of any country, by stamping out such people from among your full citizens? Progress, as far as I can understand, comes not with the crowd, but with individuals. Freedom in the last resort is won by individuals working against the crowd, and these are the people who make for freedom. It is in the interests of freedom during a war that is fought, at all events professedly, for freedom that I resist this attempt to limit what is the exercise of their legal freedom, and what is, I think with the Noble Lord, the exercise of higher morals.”

WHAT WE MUST NOT COMMENT ON

From The Tribunal 28th February 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: http://nfpb.org.uk/tribunal

We need not remind our readers that our issue of February 14th was suppressed by order of the Home Secretary on account of the article on “The Moral Aspect of Conscription.”

In the House of Commons on February 25th. Mr. Lees Smith complained that regulated brothels in the neighbourhood of the British military quarters in France had not been placed out of bounds by the War Office, as similar places had been by the United States military authorities, in localities in which American troops were quatered.

In his reply Mr. Macpherson, the Under Secretary for War, laid great stress on what he described as the importance of interfering as little as possible with the jurisdiction of the civil authorities in an Allied country. He assured the House that if our soldiers were found in any way “creating a disorder in any of these institutions,” the Army authorities would have no hesitation in taking action; but they could not do it in a rough and ready way. Our officers in a particular town would go very quietly to the mayor of the town and would make the necessary complaints, and he was sure that joint action would then be taken – and taken promptly – “without hurting the sympathies of the French people or casting any slur of upon an institution which they think proper to maintain in their midst.

Mr. Lees Smith having asked whether it was seriously suggested that it would endanger the relations between this country and France merely because it was stated that these places were out of bounds for British soldiers, received the following reply:-

“I did not expressly say that I implied that, and I meant to imply a great deal more that I cannot discuss in this House. I might have given a semi-sufficient reason, not quite a sufficient reason, for our inaction if my hon, Friend wished to have an answer, but I am hoping that the Committee realises that there are far greater difficulties behind this.”

Mr. Chancellor: Do I understand that the impression is that offence would be given to the military or civil authorities in France if you protect our soldiers from disease and moral ruin by placing these places out of bounds?

Mr. Macpherson: No, the hon. Member for Northampton said that there were thousands of unregistered women outside in the streets, and he went on to imply that relations took place between soldiers and these women. If that is so, human nature being at is, I am not at all sure that it is such a bad thing to have a certain house where women are registered and kept clean.

The Manchester Guardian remarks:- “It is plain that what Mr. Macpherson called an ‘unsavoury and malodorous subject’ will have to be raised again and yet again until a satisfactory statement is forthcoming. Those are not the fitting terms in which to describe the question. What is malodorous would be encouragement or connivance in such a manner by anyone responsible for the good name of the British Army. Hundreds of thousands of very young men are going to France month by month from decent homes, many of them withing a year of leaving school.; they are now going under a law of compulsion, and the least which their parents have a right to ask is that all reasonable precautions should be taken to keep the grosser forms of temptation out of their way.”

OVER TWELVE MONTHS FORCIBLE FEEDING

From The Tribunal, February 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: http://nfpb/org.uk/tribunal

Emmanuel Ribeiro, who was arrested in January, 1917, and has been hunger-striking in the Warrington War Hospital for over twelve months, is now in a very serious state of health. On 13th February a friend obtained permission to see him, and has sent the following report:

“Ribeiro was forcibly fed during our visit, but we were not allowed to see the process, although we saw the tube etc., brought in. It was over in a few minutes, and when we returned he was ill and giddy from the effects of the treatment. He was evidently suffering from very strong movements of the heart. He pressed his hand hard on his left breast, seemed pale and exhausted, and for a time could speak only with difficulty……I consider that the condition of Ribeiro is alarming, his health being much worse than when i last saw him. I fear he will die if not quickly liberated.”

But in spite of these facts we are told that the Medical Board recently announced that Ribeiro was going on well! The authorities know that he will never be in a fit state to be Court Martialled, yet they still continue their persecution of him rather than discharge him. Ribeiro has amply proved his right to exemption under the Act; moreover he is one of those Conscientious Objectors “in a poor state of health” whom the Government have promised to release.

In a leader in the Manchester Guardian of February 18th the case is commented on as follows: “The whole process is stupid, useless, wasteful and disgusting. If anything more need be said it may perhaps not be irrelevant to remind the Government that by this sort of senseless persecution they are doing more perhaps than in any other to ruin their credit with great numbers of thinking men and shake their confidence in a cause for the support of which such measures are deemed to be necessary.”

OUR PROSECUTION

From The Tribunal February 14th 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

There was a crowded court at Bow Street on Saturday afternoon last, when the TRIBUNAL prosecutions were heard. The National Committee of the N.-C.F., which was sitting at the time, adjourned to the court and man other people well known in the movement were to be seen there.

Mr. Bertrand Russell received many congratulatory handshakes on his entry, and the atmosphere was tense with interest and enthusiasm. We do not intend to give a detailed account here of the proceedings – for the case has already been widely reported in the public Press, and as the case is still sub judice we are prohibited from commenting upon it.

The actual passage on which the first prosecution was based occurred om Mr. Russell’s article, “The German Peace Offer,” in our issue of January 3rd, and reads as follows:

“The American Garrison which will by that time be occupying England and France, whether or not they will prove efficient against the Germans, will no doubt be capable of intimidating strikers, an occupation to which the American Army is accustomed when at home.”

Mr. Travers Humphreys, prosecuting for the Crown, stated that in view of “the diabolical effect” this passage would have if published without contradiction, a prosecution had been decided upon, and it was thought desirable in the public interest that the words should be read in open court – thus ensuring, we may point out, that their “diabolical effect” should be spread broadcast over the world to a degree that the circulation of the TRIBUNAL does not yet permit of. But we are, perhaps, too modest in our estimate of our own influence, as we learned later that “it is difficult to overstate the effect which that passage would have in all probabilities upon the soldiers of this country and their Allies,” and, moreover, that Brigadier-General Childs was present in court ready to give evidence on this point.

Mr. Whiteley’s able speech for the defence was notable for the dignity and force with which he argued “that everyone is still entitled to his own opinion, and that so long as the law be not broken, freedom of the subject and of the Press is still the right and prerogative of every person, whatever his views may be.” Moreover, he emphasised the fact that Mr. Russell was warning the public in this article of what he considers is a serious menace, and one of which Labour should be warned in time.

It is impossible to give any idea of the bitterness of tone in which Sir John Dickinson gave his decision: six months in the second division, without the option of a fine, for Mr. Russell, and £60 fine and £15 15s costs for Miss Beauchamp. Appeals against both decisions were entered at once.

The Second Summons

The second summons was against Miss Beauchamp alone, and was for publishing “false statements” in the TRIBUNAL of January 3rd. the statements so described were contained in the “Guard-Room message of that date.

It is clear that the prosecution entered the court with the intention of taking this case the same afternoon, for when Sir John Dickinson proceeded to sentence Miss Beauchamp on the first summons, Mr Humphrey interupted with: “I don’t know whether you think it desirable on the question of the penalty to consider the other case first?” Mr Whiteley at once rose and said that as the second summons was on a question of fact, the onus was on the prosecution to prove the falsehood. The paragraph was a quotation from a letter, and he would have to ask for an adjournment as Miss Beauchamp wished to call the writer of the letter, who is at present in prison, and a Home Office permit would have to be obtained before he could appear. Then, again, she would call a number of other witnesses, and there would be a contest of facts.

On hearing this, Mr. Humphreys, who appeared to be surprised, consulted with General Childs, and later asked that the case should be adjourned sine die. This the magistrate agreed to, and the court rose.

Mr. Russell and Miss Beauchamp were conducted with all ceremony to the cells, there to await the conclusion of the formalities connected with bail, for which Earl Russell and Mt. Cobden Sanderson were sureties.

The crowd waited patiently for their appearance, and a hearty cheer went up as they came down the steps. The enthusiasm displayed reminded us of the prosecutions in the early days of the Fellowship, and it was good to the high spirits of bothe “criminals.”

We advise all our readers to mark April 12th carefully in their diaries, for that is the date of the appeal, and will prove to be a very interesting and important occasion, and one that may be a red letter day in the history of the movement.

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.

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.”

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…”

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