Refusing to Kill front cover

Introduction

Based upon recent research by academic researchers and local historians, this page contains materials for primary and secondary schools and colleges. They are intended to be relevant to a range of subjects (in particular, history, religious education, citizenship, the humanities more generally and may provide the basis of project work). The material will be added to as the project evolves.

To find out more, for updates or to request a speaker contact Remembering the Real World War 1.

Read more about the Refusing to Kill School Project:

World War 1 and Conscientious Objection

These PDFs give context and background information about WW1 war resistance, conscription, conscientious objectors and what happened to them. The content here varies in terms of its complexity but is primarily aimed at teachers planning lessons and projects, and at A level students. We plan to include PDFs which are more directly usable with younger pupils as we develop and add to the Refusing to Kill project.

You may also like to consult the booklet Refusing To Kill – Bristol’s World War 1 Conscientious Objectors on which these pages are largely based.

We welcome feedback in order to help us to improve and add to content.

Bristol COs and Anti-War Campaigners

These PDFs focus on some of the men and women who played a role in Bristol’s WW1 COs story. Where we have found one, they are accompanied by a photo. For some of these individuals more materials linked to the men are available within the primary sources available on this website and links to other sources of information are given. You may also like to consult the booklet Refusing To Kill – Bristol’s World War 1 Conscientious Objectors on which these pages are largely based.

The PDFs give a level of detail more suitable to secondary students, with the links aimed mainly at A level students. We suggest that teachers might edit the material or use an individual’s photo combined with their own storytelling in relation to primary pupils, for example.

We welcome teacher feedback in order to help us to improve and add to content.

Bristol COs Names & Addresses

Honorary Research Fellow, School of History, University of Leeds, Cyril Pearce has been studying WW1 COs for decades. Alongside books and articles on the subject, his major contribution to the field is the remarkable Register of British First World War Conscientious Objectors (the Pearce Register). It records the war record of nearly twenty thousand COs to military service, giving a voice to hidden individual stories of the conflict. Few official records of COs survive, so the research involved a wide range of sources, as well as ‘a gathering and matchings of fragments’ of information. The Register is Cyril’s but Remembering the Real WW1 are delighted to have provided small pieces of local research which we hoped helped him along the way.

Here we have provided a snippet of the Register – a list of the COs from the Bristol area whose surnames begin with ‘B’. You can see the full local list in the booklet Refusing To Kill – Bristol’s World War 1 Conscientious Objectors booklet. Which can be purchased here. Note: Discounts on the RRP (£9) are available for teachers and schools.

We can also provide subsets of CO names and addresses for particular geographical areas. Contact us if you would find this useful.

You can read more about the Register’s origins in Huddersfield but for the full up-to-date story, including a chapter on Bristol which was a ‘hotspot’ of conscientious objection, see Communities of Resistance: Mapping dissent in Britain during the First World War (Francis Boutle. Autumn, 2020).

Bedminster War Resistance in World War 1

These links take you to information, a film, maps and history walks. The resources have been developed by Otherstory a local puppet theatre collective that aims to tell through puppetry the stories of outsiders and the powerless. Stories that connect us to each other across place and time. As they say, ‘We want to invite and support others to tell their stories in the recognition that we are all storytellers.’

This is puppetry for all ages and, as you’ll see from their website, Otherstory like to work with the community to develop their ideas, to research and to put on performances. In relation to the Refusing to Kill project things they might be able to offer (online or in person) include:

  • An illustrated talk about the Bedminster war resisters
  • How we researched it, and how they could do their own research
  • A short puppetry performance based around one of the Bedminster CO stories
  • Guidance/workshop on making their own puppet show using techniques from the performance

You can contact the puppet people at otherstorypuppetry@ymail.com.

Primary Sources – Documents

The primary sources provided on this website are for educational use only. We have endeavoured to ensure that we have permissions to use these sources but this is an ongoing process.If you have any information that might contribute to identifying or locating rights-holder(s) for images or documents for which copyright information is incomplete, please contact Remembering the Real WW1.

We would also love to see other materials – so if you have some Bristol area CO letters, photographs or even a CO autograph book please get in touch.

Primary Sources – Photographs

The primary sources provided on this website are for educational use only. We have endeavoured to ensure that we have permissions to use these sources but this is an ongoing process.If you have any information that might contribute to identifying or locating rights-holder(s) for images or documents for which copyright information is incomplete, please contact Remembering the Real WW1.

We would also love to see other materials – so if you have some Bristol area CO letters, photographs or even a CO autograph book please get in touch.

Primary Sources – Frank Merrick Documents and Photographs

The primary sources provided on this website are for educational use only. We have endeavoured to ensure that we have permissions to use these sources but this is an ongoing process.If you have any information that might contribute to identifying or locating rights-holder(s) for images or documents for which copyright information is incomplete, please contact Remembering the Real WW1.

We would also love to see other materials – so if you have some Bristol area CO letters, photographs or even a CO autograph book please get in touch.

These documents and photographs all relate to CO Frank Merrick. We are grateful to Frank’s children, Celia Bloor, Frank Merrick and Phoebe Merrick, and University of Bristol Special Collections for allowing us to use them. 

Sample Lessons and Advice To Teachers

This part of the project is very much under development. We are hoping teachers will send in materials they have used and commentary as to how classes or projects went.

Other Information and Resources

In addition to the information and resources listed below, the Remembering the Real WW1 booklet upon which this website is based includes more information on the local context, including the full list of Bristol-area COs taken from the (Cyril) Pearce Register of British First World War Conscientious Objectors. For more information about the Refusing To Kill – Bristol’s World War 1 Conscientious Objectors booklet see above.

Also, the PDFs on this website contain a wide range of links to materials on this website and elsewhere.
NOTE THAT: The material on this website as well as the information and resources here will be added to over time – so please visit these pages again.

How Students Have Used The Refusing To Kill Material

We would be delighted to display examples of students’ work on this website, so if you have essays, displays, pictures, photographs or films made by your school please get in touch.

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