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.”