During the Great War over 16,000 men registered as Conscientious Objectors; men whose conscience wouldn't allow them to take the life of another human. Ridiculed in the press, humiliated by the Government, and shunned by friends and neighbours, the life of a CO was a lonely one. An organisation aimed at helping those who objected to war was set up, the No-Conscription Fellowship, which became one of the most powerful anti-war bodies of the time.
Our episode begins with looking at the back story behind one of British TV's most loveable characters and then hears the story of the writer "Mark VII" an officer who resigned from his commission on religious grounds to become a conscientious objector. We hear about the Tribunals, a pseudo-legal Government panel that allowed COs to plead their case, the remarkable women who kept an underground newspaper running, and the tragic story of the first CO to die in prison.
In 1916, in a show of force, the Government shipped 35 COs off to France to be subjected to military justice, where they encountered a regime that was both inhuman and brutal. Sentenced to be shot, a secret telegramme saved the men, and on their return, they were transferred to the harsh regime of Dartmoor prison where they created what is still known as Conchies Field. Our podcast ends by looking at the life of one conscientious objector who fell foul of military law in two World Wars.
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