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.

dove..