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…”

dove..