#whitefeather diaries

Additional Material

Conscientious objector memorial stone, London
Friday 1 April 2016

A year after the war ended the final conference of the No-Conscription Fellowship was held. The fellowship's chairman, Clifford Allen, who had narrowly survived severe illness in prison, urged peace activists to continue campaigning.

Crater in no man's land
Thursday 31 March 2016

There was a spate of British mutinies in December 1918 and January 1919, shortly after the end of the war. Soldiers were angry that they were not being discharged and there was a widespread feeling of frustration with what the war had achieved – or failed to achieve. This is an account of a mutiny in Folkestone in Kent in January 1919.

Conscientious objectors memorial stone
Wednesday 30 March 2016

Harold Tennant, Under-Secretary of State for War, had told Parliament that no COs had been sent to France, before making an embarrassed climb-down and admitting what had happened. This exchange took place in the House of Commons on 26 June 1916.

A Quaker profiting from the war
Tuesday 29 March 2016

Quakers often received a hostile press during the war, but at times there was surprisingly positive coverage. In these cases, the reports tended to focus on the Friends Ambulance Unit and sometimes the Friends War Victims Relief Committee.

Monday 28 March 2016

Shortly before receiving his sentence, Howard managed to send a letter back home to Quakers, describing his feelings and his faith. It was published in The Friend.

conscientious objector looking down
Friday 25 March 2016

John wrote a great deal about prison conditions in his letters home. As the war went on prison rations were cut severely. One unnamed conscientious objector described the effects in a letter written in 1918.

A photo of Corder Catchpool
Thursday 24 March 2016

Corder Catchpool was one of those who left the Friends Ambulance Unit to follow his conscience. This is his speech from his tribunal.

Front page of the tribunal newsletter
Wednesday 23 March 2016

The police made a systemic effort to suppress the newsletter of the No-Conscription Fellowship but were unsuccessful. Lydia Smith, who was editor of The Tribunal at the time, later described how they had managed it. 

Group of people pack tea
Tuesday 22 March 2016

Quakers were divided in various ways during World War I. Some who were sympathetic to the government and the war were critical of the behaviour of more radical Quakers. This letter appeared in The Times on 19 February 1916.

CO and a German
Monday 21 March 2016

The government faced resistance on other fronts. Parliament passed the Munitions Act, restricting industrial action in war-related industries. This did not stop workers in radical areas, such as the Clyde and South Wales, from going on strike illegally. 

Pencil drawing of man with suitcase
Friday 18 March 2016

COs disagreed over whether they should accept the government's new alternative service scheme. Quotes from the time give some idea of the issues at stake.

Three men sitting on a bed banadaged
Thursday 17 March 2016

In 1917, a dispute over rations on German ships docked in Wilhelmshaven escalated, leading around 600 sailors to walk off their ships and call for an end to the war. Albin Köbis was sentenced to death for his part in it. He wrote a letter home before his execution.

NCF members going to a trial
Wednesday 16 March 2016

Some in the peace movement expected that they might have to die to defend the principle of refusing to kill and prepared themselves for this eventuality.

NCF crowd
Tuesday 15 March 2016

Pacifist principles were put into practice when a pro-war mob tried to invade an anti-conscription rally at Devonshire House, which was then the London central offices of British Quakers.

CO in prison going mad
Monday 14 March 2016

A conscientious objector describes how he was treated by a medical officer as a lunatic after participating in protests in Wandsworth Prison.

COs engaged in alternative work
Friday 11 March 2016

In July 1916, pacifist philosopher Bertrand Russell went on a speaking tour in Wales, where he was delighted to find much opposition to the war.

Cartoon of conscientious objector with a dustpan and broom in the trenches
Thursday 10 March 2016

While many Quaker groups supported the position of absolutist conscientious objectors, others disagreed. A group of prominent Quakers in Birmingham signed a letter declaring their support for alternative service. 

Women in the London office of the FAU
Wednesday 9 March 2016

Rosa Hobhouse and Clara Cole charged under the Defence of the Realm Act for distributing anti-war material.

The London warehouse of the FWVRC
Tuesday 8 March 2016

Roderick Clark worked with the FWVRC in Britian and campaigned against the war. He registered as a conscientious objector and argued for his exemption based on his anti-war work as well as his work with war victims.

A cartoon of a Quaker avoiding a recruiting sergeant by sneaking into a meeting house
Monday 7 March 2016

Quaker opposition to war had led to the Religious Society of Friends being attacked in the press ever since the war began. The attacks intensified once conscription was introduced.

A drawing of a chaplain popping his head round the door to visit a CO
Friday 4 March 2016

While a few COs found chaplains who were sympathetic or at least respectful, others found them positively insulting. Will Chamberlain, a journalist and conscientious objector imprisoned in Winchester gaol, described his first experience of a service in the prison chapel.

Croix de Guerre medal © Michael Preston for Britain Yearly Meeting
Thursday 3 March 2016

Oliver Watkins, a member of the Friends Ambulance Unit, received the Croix de Guerre for his work rescuing the wounded whilst under fire.

Conscientious objectors singing love songs to huns
Wednesday 2 March 2016

Bert's claim of conscientious objection was based on Christian arguments against violence. Others took a different approach. Arthur Gardiner, a wool and cotton dyer from Huddersfield, rejected the notion of national loyalty.

CO handed over to the military drawing
Tuesday 1 March 2016

As a unit of the army, the NCC was seen by many conscientious objectors as supporting the war. The No-Conscription Fellowship and the Friends Service Committee wrote to the Prime Minister raising their concerns.

Shall Britons be conscripts? advert
Monday 29 February 2016

Peace activists made a last-ditch attempt to resist the introduction of conscription as it was being debated by Parliament. A strongly worded leaflet produced by the No-Conscription Fellowship was attacked in the press at the beginning of 1916. Here it is.


Fellow Citizens,—

The time has come to appeal to all those who value our traditional British freedom.

Why we object NCF leaflet
Friday 13 November 2015

On 27 November 1915 the No-Conscription Fellowship gathered in London to discuss tactics and to pledge themselves to resist conscription.

The NCF's chairman was the 25-year-old Clifford Allen. His speech was remembered by many of those present.

Bodies of dead soldiers in front of damaged buildings in Ypres
Thursday 12 November 2015

Laurence's brother Bertie, a pilot in the Royal Naval Air Service, became increasingly critical of the war as it went on.

Wednesday 11 November 2015

Hilda Clark was not the only one to feel “stifled by lies and hatred”. Revulsion to the war was experienced by people in many different situations on all sides, amongst both civilians and soldiers. Some soldiers came to reject the war even while they were fighting in it.

Ronald Skirth was a teenager when he joined the army in 1916. He believed in the righteousness of the war and strongly espoused values of patriotism and obedience. Going to war, he took with him a photograph of his girlfriend Ella.

Front cover of The Tribunal
Tuesday 10 November 2015

Those attempting to persuade young men to enlist in the army often spoke of adventure, sacrifice and comradeship.

As John's entry today makes clear, there was also much comradeship in the peace movement. Maude Royden, an Anglican who worked closely with Quakers, was keen to associate peace with the spirit of adventure traditionally associated with war. Her book, The Great Adventure, was published in early 1915. Here's an abridged extract.

Pamphlet challenging national service
Monday 9 November 2015

The Bible, and particularly the teachings of Jesus, were a constant source of encouragement to Quakers and other religious pacifists. Today we saw Bert quoting Jesus's words of encouragement to his followers, as they appear in Matthew's Gospel.

This is the passage from which Bert quoted (Matthew 10:16–31) in a modern English translation (the New Revised Standard Version). It consists of advice and encouragement given by Jesus to his followers as they prepared for persecution and hostility.

Letter from the Society of Friends to members of Parliament
Friday 6 November 2015

Howard was willing to die rather than to fight. Some anti-war activists, like Howard, opposed war in all circumstances. Others believed that some wars could be justified, or that it was acceptable to use violence in revolution.

One whose feelings changed over time was George Lansbury, who edited an anti-war newspaper called The Herald throughout the war. On 15 May 1915 George explained his position in an article in The Herald.

Thursday 5 November 2015

While Laurence was frustrated with the censorship regulations at the front, others were resisting them at home. As the war went on, the authorities used the Defence of the Realm Act to restrict speeches and publications criticising the war.

Furniture being distributed to refigees as cavalry from the front line pass along behind
Wednesday 4 November 2015

In today's entry we saw Hilda interacting with a soldier while being glad that he was “not killing people at present”. Not all soldiers were uncritical of the war or the army leadership. As the war went on, many soldiers became more outspoken, either against the war itself or of the way it was being conducted.

Tuesday 3 November 2015

While John was becoming active in anti-war campaigns in Oxford, around Britain and across Europe the peace movement was growing. In 1915 anti-war women's groups from belligerent and neutral countries met in the Netherlands (which was neutral).

The International Congress of Women was held in The Hague from 28 April to 1 May 1915. Women from over 150 organisations in eleven countries attended.

Bert and his brother Phil
Monday 2 November 2015

Bert was one of many Christians to be shocked and angry about the willingness of most church leaders to back the war.

Geoffrey Studdert Kennedy was an Anglican army chaplain on the front line from 1915. Initially a supporter of the war, he became increasingly anti-war as the war progressed. He describes a key moment in his change of heart, when he was 33.

Friday 30 October 2015

Howard was right to be worried about police spies in 1915. Two years later a group of anti-war campaigners were convicted of plotting to kill the Prime Minister in what most historians regard as an unfair trial. Alice Wheeldon and her family were convicted on evidence supplied by Alex Gordon and Herbert Booth, spies employed by the Ministry of Munitions who posed as peace activists.

Laurence's passport
Thursday 29 October 2015

Bertie Cadbury was among around 30% of Quaker men who joined up in World War I. He trained as a pilot in the Royal Navy. In this letter he writes to his elder brother, Laurence, who was serving in the Friends Ambulance Unit.

Wednesday 28 October 2015

Before the war, the issue of votes for women was one of the hot political topics of the day. When war came, women campaigning for the vote were split over whether to support it. For some women, the struggle for the right to vote and the campaign against the war went hand in hand.

Tuesday 27 October 2015

In today's entry John decided not to become a Quaker, but was happy to be part of the Fellowship of Reconciliation (FoR). This group grew out of a meeting between British and German Christians on the eve of war.

Today, the International Fellowship of Reconciliation (IFoR) has branches in over forty countries across five continents.

Front page of a newspaper attacking 'peace traitors'
Monday 26 October 2015

Bert was not the only one to preach messages of peace during World War I. Bernard Walke, an Anglo-Catholic priest, describes his reasons for doing so.

Friday 29 August 2014

News of the truce arrived only gradually in Britain, and parts of the pro-war lobby were keen to discourage reports of it.

Thursday 28 August 2014

Most opponents of the war were either socialists or Christians.

Wednesday 27 August 2014

Hilda's letters reveal something of her anguish at the suffering she encountered, although she usually doesn't go into detail.

Tuesday 26 August 2014

As John says, women were not faced with the pressure to enlist, but they faced equally difficult choices about how to respond to the war.

Monday 25 August 2014

Bert was very critical of church leaders who sought to justify the war with Christian arguments. Nearly all church denominations in Britain included both supporters and opponents of the war, although in most the supporters were in the majority.

Friday 22 August 2014

In today's extract, Laurence said he would have been happy to join the Royal Army Medical Corps. Some Quakers went further and joined the army to fight.

Howard combined opposition to war with a rejection of the state's power over him. The two issues went together even more strongly for anti-war activists in British colonies, many of whom were also campaigning for national independence.

While Hilda wondered if she would meet Germans in France, other British Quakers were meeting Germans closer to home.

Tuesday 19 August 2014

William Temple told John Hoare that he could not be neutral while the country was at war. However, many anti-war campaigners did not see themselves as neutral.

Monday 18 August 2014

When he writes about forgiveness, Bert mentions Jesus' teaching that God will forgive those who forgive others.

Friday 15 August 2014

Germany and Britain, along with other countries, had increased military spending in the run-up to the war. This arms race is considered by many historians to have been one of the factors that made war more likely.

Wednesday 13 August 2014

Thousands of Belgian refugees arrived in Britain in autumn 1914 and a number were invited to sleep in Quaker meeting houses or accommodated by Quaker households.

John's headmaster was keen to talk of Quakers who had abandoned their pacifism. In reality, most Quakers opposed the war, although they differed in what this meant in practice.

Laurence was one of the first people to join the Friends' Ambulance Unit (FAU) The unit's work caused disagreement amongst Quakers and other pacifists.

In 1914 news and information was less readily available than it is now. It was difficult for people such as Howard to know whether many others shared their views...

Hilda and Edith were willing to suffer while helping the victims of war. For them, this was a natural result of their Quaker faith.

Monday 4 August

While most British people supported the war, there were many who shared Bert's determination to oppose it. Others were unsure what to think.

Tuesday 5 August

John was not the only teenager to oppose the war. Some were determined not only to speak out against the war but to make contact with others who shared their views...

Monday 11 August

Bert mentions white feathers but does not say whether he was given any. It seems quite likely.

Thursday 14 August 2014

Howard's campaigning against the war is a reminder that pacifism is not passive. Indeed, it often leads to conflict.