From The Tribunal June 6th 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:

Our comrade, A. Catherall, who was sent over in a draft to France on December 6, 1917, still heroically continues his refusal to obey orders, be the consequence what they may. In spite of assurances given, he is still being kept in France, and the latest news is that on May 23rd he was taken to No. 1 Military Prison in Le Havre to serve a sentence of 112 days’ hard labour. Knowing what we do of military prisons in France, this news is certainly not re-assuring, especially in view of the following letter received from our comrade on May 21st, which gives the record in bare outline of his experiences at Harfleur:-

“Feb 10. – Courtmartialled. Result 84 days field punishment.
Feb 12. – Arrival Field Punishment Compound Harfleur, Havre, France, disobeyed first order after explaining my position, was confined in an iron-sheeted concrete-floored cell about four yards by two until —-
Feb. 14 – Sentence to fifteen day’s No. 1 diet, solitary confinement in cell, handcuffed, leg-ironed night and day (No. 1 diet, 3 days bread and water, 3 days’ compound diet alternately).
Feb 15. – Complained irons were for violent persons only. Resilt, cuffed at back until —-
Feb 19. – Morning, when at 6 a.m., was released for an alternate three days but refused first order, celled immediately in cuffs (front) and leg irons, on compound diet (that night I received as punishment additional 6 days No.1 diet, etc, as before) until —-
Feb 22. When I returned on biscuit and water diet. I may mention that I received eight ozs. of biscuits per day until I complained to the orderly officer, who instantly went and witnessed my ozs. made up to fourteen ozs. as per rule. i may say that I broke tow teeth with those iron biscuits. Compound diet resumed. Released at 6 a.m., refused first order, celled etc.
Feb 25. – Still in irons day and night, the handcuffs being removed for about five minutes daily to allow washing.
Feb 28. – As punishment, order to parade three times daily, – ‘any force necessary to be used to make him obey,’ and to be roped tightly as possible to a post for two hours, wearing irons also. Refused to parade, but was pulled on parade once by the arm, then refused again and that order was probably rescinded. This punishment excepting parade continued until —-
March 7. – When the leg irons were remove and exercise allowed daily.
March 9. – Should have been released, having completed 21 days’ No.1 diet in solitary confinement in the cell, but continued on compound diet, cuffed, cell, and tying up (though I protested three times that no charge was laid against me) until—-
March 12 – When handcuffs were removed, remained in cells on compound diet until my sentence expired, being called from the cells and straight out under excort to No. 8 Camp, A.S.C., on Sunday, May 5.
May 6. – Was sentenced to 14 days confined to camp, refused first order, retaken to Guardroom, and kept there until courtmartialled on
May 13. – When, owing to my evidence, my case was adjourned half way through the trial to be referred, i presume, to higher legal authority. And so I await the result, possibly a return to Dartmoor, probably two or three years’ hard labour. About Feb. 28th, I was removed to another room to hear the death sentence pronounced on a murderer ‘to show what the Army can do,’ but i still refused to obey orders, and possibly that is the reason I was not released.

The result, as we have stated above, was 112 days’ hard labour, As we go to press we hear that orders have been given for Catherall to be returned to a civil prison in England, but up to the moment of writing no news of his arrival here has reached us.