2014 is the 100th anniversary of the start of the First World War. The British government plans to spend £55 million marking this occasion (and the centenary of other stages of the war). Comments from David Cameron calling for a ‘truly national commemoration’ stressing our ‘national spirit’ suggest what he has in mind. He has even compared the government’s plans with last year’s Diamond Jubilee celebrations.

For the majority of people in Europe, whether directly involved or not, the war was one of the greatest disasters of the twentieth century. A war fought for the interests of the European ruling elites whose price was paid by ordinary people. Already historians like Max Hastings have begun to argue that this was a war that had to be fought against German militarism and the costs in human life and destruction were worth paying. In contrast, radical historians have begun to uncover a multitude of both individual and mass forms of resistance to the war on all sides of the national divides.

Nationally there are plans to ensure that attention is given to the real causes and effects of the war, rather than an opportunity for our government to re-habilitate this war in particular or war in general. Bristol has long radical traditions and we know there are groups and individuals across the city who will want to ensure that there are events locally remembering the reality of World War One. We want to facilitate this. We want to encourage the widest possible range and number of events – meetings, music, theatre, film, exhibitions etc. What might be organised (and how) will largely be determined by the individuals and groups who get involved. The involvement of a wide spectrum of people and groups will ensure a greater cross-fertilisation of ideas; events can be publicised more widely; and they can reach a wider audience. So if you are interested in participating please come along to this meetings.

Programme:

Date Time Title Details With Link
, 2013
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Remembering the Real WWI: Public meeting Bristol has long radical traditions and we know there are groups and individuals across the city who will want to ensure that there are events locally remembering the reality of World War 1. We want to facilitate this.
, 2013
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Remembering the Real WWI: Public meeting #2 This is the second meeting in Bristol to discuss opposition to David Cameron's 'truly national commemoration' of WW1 stressing our 'national spirit'.
, 2014
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Remembering the Real WWI: Public meeting #3 This is the third meeting in Bristol to discuss opposition to David Cameron's 'truly national commemoration' of WW1 stressing our 'national spirit'.
, 2014 No Glory: The Real History Of World War 1 Presented by 'Remembering The Real World War 1' - Bristol's campaign to commemorate the real World War 1 – all welcome This meeting represents an opportunity to hear different views about the war and […] Neil Faulkner
, 2014
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WWI Resistance Shirkers, Skulkers, Deserters and the 'Live and Let Live' Principle: Everyday Resistance to Combat on the Western Front in World War 1 With Roger Ball Fraternisation between opposing armed forces on […] Roger Ball,
Colin Thomas
, 2014
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Remembering the Real WWI: Public meeting This is the monthly meeting in Bristol to discuss opposition to David Cameron's 'truly national commemoration' of WW1 stressing our 'national spirit'. Nationally there are plans to ensure that […]
, 2014 Hidden Histories OF WWI Shirkers, Skulkers, Deserters and the 'Live and Let Live' Principle: Everyday Resistance to Combat on the Western Front. St John’s Hall, Rax Lane, Bridport The ‘Christmas Truce’ of 1914 is sold to us […] Roger Ball
, 2014 Should Britain Go To War with Germany? Mass meeting, debate and resolutions With Ernest Bevin (National Organiser Dockers Union) and Ben Tillett (General Secretary National Transport Workers Federation) On Narrow Quay by the Arnolfini, […]
, 2014 1914-1918: The War within the War As we mark the centenary of the First World War, this epochal event is usually remembered as a bloody conflict between rival alliances of nations. But there was another struggle as well: between […] Adam Hochschild
, 2014 World War One: Arming All Sides After the First World War many believed the arms trade to be a primary cause of war. The unprecedented scale of death and destruction wrought by modern weaponry led a majority of people to support […] Arming All Sides
, 2014
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Echoes of the ‘Great War’ World War One is often characterised in the popular memory through the narrative of trench warfare on the Western Front. However, it was a global war fought by imperialist powers, ranging from Africa […]
, 2014
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Hidden Histories of World War One Bristol Radical History Group are hosting the international History From Below network conference which brings together historian-activists from all over Europe. This is a great opportunity to hear […] Gee Vaucher
, 2014 Women Resisting the Great War Two talks about women resisting WWI. "The Friends of Alice Wheeldon" (accused of plotting to kill Lloyd George) and "Bristol women campaigning for peace in World War One". Sheila Rowbotham,
June Hannam
, 2014
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Opening the Archives In a long tradition of Opening the Archives events the excellent Central Reference Library staff have done us proud in presenting a collection of primary sources relating to resistance and reaction […]
, 2014 Deserters, Conchies and Reds Two talks: "The Bristol Deserter – Alfred Jefferies – His War Story" (a Bristolian shot for desertion) and "Freedom of Soul" (Bristol union resistance to the war). Colin Thomas,
Geoff Woolfe
, 2014 Trade Unions and Resistance to the Great War Two talks: "Class cohesion and spurious patriotism: trade union internationalism in the First World War" and "Men on one hand, Coal on the other: The Forest of Dean Miners and the First World War 1910 – 1920" Ian Wright,
Kevin Morgan
, 2014 The World’s War Documentary, talk and discussion David Olusoga's recent documentary The World's War challenged perceptions of WW1 with the stories of the millions of Indian, African and Asian troops who fought and […] Dominic Rai
, 2015 The Kaiser’s Black Guards One hundred years ago, on July 15, 1915, two hundred thousand Welsh miners launched a strike for higher pay. Their coal was powering the Royal Navy in the midst of a world war. The miners defied the […] Robert Griffiths
, 2015
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Justice For Alice Wheeldon! In 1917, socialist, feminist and anti-war activist, Alice Wheeldon, her daughter Winnie and husband Alf Mason were given long prison sentences for supposedly plotting to kill the Prime Minister Lloyd […] Sheila Rowbotham,
Chloe Mason
, 2016 Unveiling of a Blue Plaque to Walter Ayles Venue: 12 Station Road, Ashley Down, Bristol, BS7 9LA A blue plaque for Walter Ayles will be unveiled on Sunday April 17th – the centenary of the date that Ayles was first arrested. Please put this […]
, 2016 Discovering British 1914-1918 War Resisters Cyril Pearce is Britain's foremost researcher into World War 1 conscientious objectors (COs) and war resisters. His book 'Comrades in Conscience' looked at the anti-war movement in Huddersfield. Since […] Cyril Pearce
, 2016 Slaughter No Remedy A re-enactment of Walter Ayles' Militry Tribunal Bristol Register Office, Corn Street, BS1 1JG. Walter Ayles was Bristol’s most prominent opponent of World War 1. He was a member of the Independent […]
, 2016 Battle Of The Somme At the Watershed, 1 Canons Road, Harbourside, Bristol, BS1 5TX. 1 July 1916 was the first day of the battle of the Somme. That day saw the highest British casualties of any day in World War 1. The […]
, 2016 Smoke: Gas: Strikes: Metal: Slums A 2 hour walk around St Philips and the Dings. Alfred Jefferies lived in St Philips before 1914, he was shot for desertion in France On 1st November 1916. We will walk around the area, highlighting […] Geoff Woolfe
, 2016 Smoke, Gas, Strikes, Metal and Slums Meet at Bristol Temple Meads station forecourt. Well over 50 people turned up when we put on this walk in July. It was so popular we’re doing it again. So if you enjoyed it so much last time you want […] Geoff Woolfe
, 2016
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Deserters, Conchies and Mutineers Ringleaders and Reds in Khaki - British Army mutinies during the First World War British Military historians and assorted flag-wavers celebrate the enthusiastic rush to the colours; the ensuing blood […] Julian Putkowski,
Lois Bibbings,
People’s Histreh
, 2016 Victims of the Somme Dings Park, Oxford St, Bristol BS2 0QU. A commemoration and wreath-laying to remember Arthur and Alfred Jefferies, both of whom were born in St Philips and lived in the Dings. Both fell as victims of […] Geoff Woolfe,
Lois Bibbings
, 2016
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Bristol – Opposition to the First World War 'Canting humbugs' was the way some in Bristol characterised opponents of the 'Great War'. But it is now clear that men like local councillor Walter Ayles, prepared to go to prison for their beliefs, […] Colin Thomas
, 2016
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Sylvia Pankhurst, The Dreadnought and the ‘Great War’ During the First World War Sylvia Pankhurst's newspaper, The Dreadnought was the most consistently anti-war publication. It not only opposed the global conflict but condemned the crushing of the 1916 […] John Newsinger
, 2016 Slaughter No Remedy The premier of Slaughter No Remedy a short film that studies the life of Walter Ayles a leading member of the Independent Labour Party in Bristol who was jailed in 1916 for his refusal to fight in […] Colin Thomas,
Lois Bibbings,
Ben Griffin,
Ben Pike
, 2017 Slaughter No Remedy Upper Engagement Room, The Students' Union at UWE, Union 1, Frenchay Campus, Coldharbour Lane, Bristol, BS16 1QY ‘Canting humbugs’ was the way some in Bristol characterised opponents of the ‘Great […] Colin Thomas
, 2017 The Dings and World War One Bethesda Methodist Church, 138a Church Road, Redfield, Bristol, BS5 9HH An illustrated talk by Geoff Woolfe author of The Bristol Deserter on the life and times of Arthur and Alfred Jefferies, both of […] Geoff Woolfe
, 2017
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Spies and Trouble Makers In 1917 in Britain, one of the government’s worst nightmares was developing. There had always been a ‘hard-core’ of opposition to the war on political, moral & religious grounds. Over the course […] Aled Eirug
, 2017 Sylvia Pankhurst, ‘The Dreadnought’ and the ‘Great War’ During the First World War Sylvia Pankhurst’s newspaper, The Dreadnought was the most consistently anti-war publication. It not only opposed the global conflict but condemned the crushing of the 1916 […] John Newsinger
, 2017 The Somme 1916: From Both Sides of the Wire This BBC series uses original research in German military archives to interrogate long-standing assumptions and prevailing myths about the what happened in the most iconic battle of the First World […]
, 2017 ‘Refusing To Kill’ From Saturday September 9th, the Remembering The Real World War 1 group are presenting an exhibition ‘Refusing To Kill – Bristol’s World War 1 Conscientious Objectors‘ in Bristol Cathedral on College […]
, 2017
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Studio 1: Women against World War One Bristol women campaigning for peace in World War One [June Hannam] June Hannam will focus on women in Bristol who opposed militarism and sought a negotiated peace. The most high profile activists were […] June Hannam,
Bernadette Hyland
, 2017
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Studio 1: Black Lives in A White Man’s War Few historians mention that both the first and last campaigns of World War One took place, not in Europe but in Africa. In 1914, all of sub-Saharan Africa, except Ethiopia and Liberia, was in the […] Silu Pascoe
, 2017
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Life Gallery, Level 1: ‘Taking a Holiday’ puppet show A story of struggle during the First World War - full of intrigue, escapes, comradeship...and bikes. Recommended for adults and older children. Three showings at: 11:30am, 1:30pm and 3:30pm in the […] Otherstory
, 2017
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Studio 1: Refusing to fight Conscientious Decision-Making [Lois Bibbings] This talk gives a brief insight into what First World War conscientious objectors to military service meant when they talked about 'conscience' or the […] Lois Bibbings,
Cyril Pearce
, 2017
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Studio 1: John Maclean and The War After The War This talk places John Maclean's pamphlet The War After The War in its broader international and political context. Exploring connections (and differences) between the various international socialists […] Jim Slaven
, 2017
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Studio 1: Mutiny The biggest revolt in the history of the British Army occurred during 1919 involving hundreds of thousands of soldiers. Massive mutinies by stroppy soldiers humiliated generals, terrified politicians […] Julian Putkowski

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