A C.O AT ARMENTIERES

h3, From The Tribunal August 22nd 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

AMAZING EXPERIENCES IN FRANCE

Information has just come to hand of the extraordinary history of a comrade who has lately been released under the “Cat and Mouse Act” after hunger striking in Pentonville. His appeals for exemption were of no avail, and although neurasthenic and incapable of work, he was conscripted into the Army early in 1917.

After the usual trouble in the hands of the military, who forced him into khaki, he was handed over to the Civil Police and kept in custody for five days at Old Street Police station, from whence he was moved, handcuffed, to Leonard Street Barracks, Shoreditch. Manacled to another prisoner, he was taken from there to the 7th Infantry Labour company, Queen’s West Surreys. He soon found himself in Boulogne, where he refused to work. No notice was taken of him, but he was moved to Steenwich, behind the Ypres lines on the Armentieres front. Here he refused pick and shovel work, and was sentenced to 42 days’ No.2 Field Punishment.

Terrible as these experiences must have been to a boy of his temperament, they did not in the slightest degree shake his faith or induce him to abandon resistance. At the Punishment Compound at Armentieres he was the only conscientious objector, yet he refused to work; and in spite of the loneliness he won through to the extent of being left alone after several paradings. here he actually witnessed the fighting at Messines Rudge which was taking place on the other side of the valley, and was so close to the battle that he was finally shelled out of the compound and hand to be taken to camp to finish his sentence. He was re-examined by a Field Medical Board which passed him fit for light duty only, and was then on the sick list for several weeks. An appeal against his sentence had no result.

Later in June at Neuve Eglise, our comrade refused to ‘clean camp,’ and was again remanded for C.M., which took place at Bailleul. In spite of his own clear statement, and a testimony from the officer who prosecuted, he was sentenced to six g months F.H.L. He was detained at St Omer for a week, and was then sent to Rouen No. 1 Prison. On refusing to work here, he was put in a cell for 12 days on punishment diet, with his arms fastened behind his back in a ‘figure 8’ fot 12 hours a day.

Fortunately he was removed, via Havre and Southampton, to Wormwood Scrubs to finish his sentence. He refused the Home Office Scheme, and completed his term of 6 months’ imprisonment. At Chelsea Barracks on Jan 8th last, our comrade was sentenced to 2 years’ hard labour for refusing to do fatigues at Bassing Road Barracks, Peckham, and was sent to Pentonville. After two months here he refused to work or take food, and was soon in hospital. His mother entreated him to take food, bit after complying with the request for a time, he became confirmed in his attitude of hunger-striking.
He was released on July 3rd for one month which expired on August 1st, and although in a state of health which has been certified by high medical authority as being extremely critical, he has been granted a further respite of only another month.

dove..