Ring Out the Thousand Wars of Old

The Forest of Dean World War One Conscientious Objectors

Ring Out the Thousand Wars of Old - Front Covers
During World War One, 28 men from the Forest of Dean sought recognition as conscientious objectors rather than be called up to fight. This is the story of these men, the options available to them, the way they responded and what they did after the war. Ring Out the Thousand Wars of Old explores the role that religion, class, culture and place had on these individual decisions. It argues that the actions of the conscientious objectors were an expression of a much wider anti-war sentiment, […]

‘Refusing To Kill’

Bristol’s World War 1 Conscientious Objectors

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 Green. The exhibition will run until early January. Over 350 men from the Bristol area refused to fight in World War 1. They claimed the status of conscientious objector for moral, religious or political reasons. Some agreed to take non-military roles. Others spent much of the war in prison, often […]

Studio 1: Refusing to fight

Conscientious Decision-Making & Martyrs or Rebels? Another side of Britain’s 1914-18 war resisters

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 reasoning behind their decision and how their beliefs or thinking impacted upon the course of action they took during conscription. It does so by telling stories about a few of those who objected. Martyrs or Rebels? Another side of Britain’s 1914-18 war resisters [Cyril Pearce] Our view of Britain’s […]

Women and Conscientious Objection to Military Service

Quaker Meeting House, 126 Hampton Road, Redland, Bristol BS6 6JE A free event on women and conscientious objection to military service. Note: Registration is required for this event, details here. Speakers will include:- Professor Lois Bibbings, University of Bristol, author of Telling Tales About Men: Conceptions of Conscientious Objectors to Military Service During the First World War (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2009) will look at how World War 1 Conscientious Objectors were […]

Discovering British 1914-1918 War Resisters

Hoped-for outcomes and challenging surprises

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 then, Cyril has extended his work to look for other ‘Huddersfields’ and has created a database of British COs - the Pearce Register of British Conscientious Objectors The database currently contains details of almost 20000 men who refused to fight in the war and is an invaluable tool for any local […]

Do You Have A Conchie In The Family?

Whiteford brothers
From 1916-19 many men & women in Bristol organised opposition to conscription. Dozens of Bristolians were imprisoned as conscientious objectors. These included Walter Ayles, who was a city councillor and Bristol's most prominent opponent of World War 1; the three Reinge brothers from Totterdown who were all imprisoned for refusing to join the army; George Barker who hid fugitives in the cellar of his bicycle shop in Bedminster; the Whiteford brothers from St George, one of whom refused to […]

Bristol’s WWI Conscientious Objectors

Whiteford brothers
Last spring, based on documents in the Central Library, we published details of 47 men from Bristol who were imprisoned as conscientious objectors during World War 1. For moral, religious or political reasons they refused to take part in the war. Many people contacted us having seen these names and provided us with more information about these men or other conscientious objectors. Nationally, Cyril Pearce, has been working for many years to compile a database of conscientious objectors. To date […]

Deserters, Conchies and Reds

Bristolian opposition to the First World War

The Bristol Deserter – Alfred Jefferies – His War Story During World war One nearly 300 British soldiers on the Western Front were shot at dawn for deserting or for ‘cowardice’. One victim, Alfred Jefferies, a Bristolian, was executed on 1st November 1916. Based on official archives, including war diaries and court martial records, Geoff Woolfe describes Alfred’s tragic war story, whilst questioning the extent to which the full facts of some war events can be known. Freedom of Soul Two weeks […]

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 people who regarded the war as a noble and necessary crusade, and a brave minority who felt it was tragic madness and who refused to fight. Writer Adam Hochschild describes this battle in an illustrated talk, focusing on the country where that tension was sharpest, Great Britain. Adam Hochschild's […]

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