Thursday, May 15, 2014

Lewisham First World War Resisters

Today is apparently International Conscientious Objectors Day, marked around the world each year on 15 May to commemorate those who have refused to fight in wars.

Lewisham have launched an interesting and rapidly developing 'London Borough of Lewisham in the First World War' wiki, which includes information about local war resisters at that time. They have identified 'twenty-three men from Deptford and ninety-nine men from Lewisham who were conscientious objectors', with details of some of them (more to be added).

I will just mention one of them for now - Albert Edward Allen of 1 North Terrace, Fairlawn Park, Sydenham, 'a carpenter and trade unionist' and 'member of the Amalgamated Society of Carpenters and Joiners'. He told the Military Service Tribunal in 1916 that 'he had conscientious objections to all war, especially this war because of the scientific slaughter that was going on and to taking human life either directly or indirectly. He disputed the right of any government to say whether he should take part in warfare and said that he was not a member of any religious body and objected on moral grounds'.

He was conscritped into the army but refused order and was court martialled. As an 'absolutist' who refused not only military service but any civilian work supporting the war effort, Allen spent the remainder of the war in  'a cycle of disobeying orders, being sentenced to a period of hard labour in civilian prison and on discharge being handed back to the army for the cycle to recommence. From 1916 to 1919, he would serve three sentences of hard labour in Wormwood Scrubs, Wandsworth, Brixton and Portsmouth prisons. He was one of 120 absolutists who were sent to Wakefield prison'.

Check out No Glory and the Real WWI for more on commemorating the hidden histories of the war to end all wars.

1 comment:

runner500 said...

Obviously, we made a similar search today, mine was prompted by the significance of today getting a mention on Today, but I haven't had time to think about posting in it yet. The Lewisham site is great, well worth a visit - there is a lot that has appeared in the last couple of months.