From The Tribunal November 7 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


As I write, Birmingham is in the midst of its “Big Guns Week.” The good patriots of “Brum” are “feeding the guns with War Bonds.” ap per instructions on the postmark, without a thought of such a thing as five per cent: their sole desire to “get on with the war.” At least, that is what one gathers from the speeches made on the opening day, when canons of the Christian Church made stirring appeals to the patriotism of their fellow Christians. One of the items of the opening ceremony was the singing of “O God, our help in ages past,” by children of the Bluecoat School.

It was particularly fitting that Christian ministers should give their blessing to a “Big Guns Week.Says Erasmus in his Complaint of peace “Whose invention was a cannon? Was it not the invention of the meek, lowly, merciful followers of Jesus Christ, whose law was love, and whose last legacy to His disciples and the world, peace?” To the cannon we must now add such things as high explosives, poison gas, liquid fire, torpedoes, submarines, bombing air-craft, and a hundred and one other examples of the inventive genius of Christian nations.

“Sufficient is Thine arm alone,” sang the children. Said a right reverend father in God, in effect: “M’yes – that may be so; but it is just as well that you should not lose sight of the fact that £5000 will buy four splendid quick-firing field guns. .” And as a magnificent example of pure, disinterested patriotism, the Birmingham Small Arms Company led off with an investment of £500,000.

A few of our pacifist women are distributing peace literature during the lunch hour when the centre of the city is crowded with people anxious to see the monster guns. “No, thanks miss; I’ve had enough”“ said a wounded soldier to one of the distributors who had offered him a leaflet. “But this is not a war leaflet; it’s for peace,” she told him. “Then give me one,” he replied eagerly; “that’s what the boys in the trenches want.” “Feed the guns that hammer the Huns!” shrieks a banner hung across one of the main thoroughfares. i find myself wondering what would happen if that device were made to read, “Feed the guns with the blood of your sons!” If only the people would associate “Big Guns” with “cannon fodder” instead of War Bonds! Of course the war must be paid for; and if patriots cannot be persuaded to lend their money to the state at good interest without the aid of free picture shows and appeals from canons and bishops, we need not complain of such methods. But why not tell the people about the real food of the guns?” Even Mr. Lloyd George himself has said: “The people of this country are all the better for being told even unpalatable truths.” Why not begin to give them some idea of the appetite of the guns?”

At the end of 1917 Gen. Smuts estimated the total casualties resulting from three years of war to be no less than 8,000,000 killed and 20,000,000 maimed and wounded. To that extimate must be added the figures for 1918.” “A.G.G.” in the “Daily News and Leader” of August 3, 1918, wrote as follows:-

“If we sat day and night and saw the ghostly procession of those slain in this war file by in ranks of four, minute by minute, ten years would pass and still the tale of the world’s sacrifice of youth and strength and hope would not have been told. And if behind the dead, there filed the host of the maimed, the halt, the blind, the dumb, the paralysed, fifty years would hardly exhaust the dreadful spectacle.”

If we continue to “feed the guns,” nothing can save the nations from another universal massacre in the near future. There is only one way to a lasting peace, and that is by the peoples of all countries insisting on Total Disarmament as the first step towards International Goodwill.

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