Supported by divine love
Security at the front was not as tight as the authorities liked to believe. 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, an independent weekly Quaker magazine, on 23 June 1916. Here it is.
Yet another week has slipped away and again I have a delightful opportunity to communicate with the home circle. Since I last wrote my position has somewhat altered.
You will recollect that I mentioned I was anticipating being tried by court-martial in the near future. Well, that is now an accomplished fact, and I was told on Wednesday last that my case would be tried before a Field General Court-martial at Boulogne on the following Friday. In the meantime I was given an opportunity of preparing a statement of defence, and at the trial, which duly took place on Friday, I read this statement and felt greatly strengthened and inspired in thus putting forward the fundamental basis of my belief.
In this the latest phase, as in all my former experience, I have been throughout helped and supported by the Divine Love. If one's faith remains firm, tribulation becomes transformed into joy. I have not yet heard the result of the trial, but anticipate that it will be announced within the next few days.
Source: The Friend, 23 June 1916.
Howard had arrived in France with sixteen other COs, all of them knowing that they faced the death penalty if they disobeyed orders while deemed to be on “active service”. After imprisonment and various punishments, four alleged ringleaders were singled out and court-martialled. Howard was one of them.
Social movements start with the individual – but to achieve positive, lasting change we need to work collectively. Steve Whiting, Turning the Tide Programme Manager for Quakers in Britain, reflects on how an individual act of conscience can become a movement for change.