#whitefeather diaries

Diary

Conscientious objectors undertaking work at Dartmoor
John Hoare
Friday 1 April 2016

Conscientious objectors were offered the chance of doing “alternative work of national importance” under the Home Office scheme. John had for a long time been offering to do such work, although others did not agree. Here is John's description of his move from prison to alternative work.

Details of Laurence's service in the FAU
Laurence Cadbury
Thursday 31 March 2016

Laurence's brother Bertie Cadbury, who had joined the navy at the beginning of the war, received the Distinguished Service Cross in 1916. Laurence heard the news while helping an FAU section make arrangements to move.

Memorial stone for conscientious objectors
John 'Bert' Brocklesby
Wednesday 30 March 2016

Bert's brother Philip visited him shortly before his sentence was confirmed. Bert describes what happened after the sentence was read out.

volunteer with small children in Samoens
Hilda Clark
Tuesday 29 March 2016

As Quaker relief work in France extended, Hilda chose to move from where she had been working to Sermaize, where life was slightly calmer but facilities more basic despite increasing levels of illness in the area. In one of her last surviving letters from the war years, she said that some things are too complicated to explain in writing.

newspaper headline of sentenced to be shot
Howard Marten
Monday 28 March 2016

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.

hands outside a prison window
John Hoare
Friday 25 March 2016

Last week we saw John sentenced to six months’ hard labour. He began the sentence at Wormwood Scrubs. He was in the prison for only three weeks. He wrote a description of life there shortly afterwards. 

Laurence Cadbury
Thursday 24 March 2016

When news reached the Friends Ambulance Unit of conscientious objectors being sent to prison, some of its members were quick to speak out about the situation. Laurence made his opinions clear in a letter to his parents.

Sketches of what a CO feels like
John 'Bert' Brocklesby
Wednesday 23 March 2016

On arrival at Boulogne, Bert and his comrades from Richmond Castle discovered that another group of conscientious objectors had also been sent to France with the threat of being shot if they continued to refuse orders. They did not know whether the other group – which included Howard Marten ­­– had given in or been executed.

Bert was concerned that campaigners in Britain should hear about what was going on and know that they were in Boulogne. He described what happened next.

A group of people pack tea
Hilda Clark
Tuesday 22 March 2016

As the year went on Hilda found herself in open conflict with the people administering the Friends War Victims Relief Committee at the Quaker central offices in London.

An effeminate CO batting away a tough, scary looking German
Howard Marten
Monday 21 March 2016

Imprisoned in Harwich Redoubt, Howard and the other COs decided to refuse work of a “military character” but agreed to cleaning and catering. In another edited extract from Howard's writings, he describes life as a prisoner at Harwich – and how it was cut short.

Satirical pencil drawing of CO being inspected by a prison doctor
John Hoare
Friday 18 March 2016

After John's court-martial he had to wait several days for the verdict and the sentence. Here are extracts from his diary at the time.

Hospital ward
Laurence Cadbury
Thursday 17 March 2016

Laurence was promoted to Officer-in-Charge of Transport. He was so absorbed with his work that he forgot his own birthday. The FAU was attached to the French army rather than the British. In a letter to his parents, Laurence expressed his frustration with the British army's wastefulness. 

Drawing on cell wall
John 'Bert' Brocklesby
Wednesday 16 March 2016

Bert was sent to Richmond Castle where a unit of the Non-Combatant Corps was based. Within a few days he was on his way to France.

Family fleeing Oise with their belongings
Hilda Clark
Tuesday 15 March 2016

Hilda was busy working with refugee mothers and children in France. In July she wrote to her parents in Somerset to congratulate them on their golden wedding anniversary. She apologised for not being there in person and for seeing them so rarely. 

A prison cell
Howard Marten
Monday 14 March 2016

Howard recounts his time at Felixstowe

COs engaged in alternative work
John Hoare
Friday 11 March 2016

John was conscripted later the year than Howard or Bert. By this time the Home Office had come up with a scheme to offer some COs the option of doing alternative work of “national importance”. Pacifists were split over whether to accept it. 

Conscientious objector sweeping up the trenches (cartoon)
Laurence Cadbury
Thursday 10 March 2016

In a letter home Laurence shares his thoughts on members of the Friends Ambulance Unit leaving based on their conscientious objection to compulsory enlistment.

A conscientious objector in prison sustained by the spirit of international brotherhood
John 'Bert' Brocklesby
Wednesday 9 March 2016

facing arrest for refusing to join the Non-Combatant Corps, Bert handed himself into the police station.

Volunteers loading up mattresses for distribution
Hilda Clark
Tuesday 8 March 2016

Hilda continued to work with refugee children after her return to France. 

Coat of arms for conscientious objectors
Howard Marten
Monday 7 March 2016

Howard was now deemed to be in the army. He was taken to an army barracks where he was held in the guard room.

The CO in prison drawings
John Hoare
Friday 4 March 2016

John was ordered to join the Non-Combatant Corps in 1916. Upon refusal he was imprisoned in Pentonville to await a court martial. John wrote in his diary about his first few days in prison.

Henry Dearden wearing a makeshift gas mask in France (c) Quakers in Britain 2016
Laurence Cadbury
Thursday 3 March 2016

At the beginning of 1916, Laurence Cadbury wrote home from the front, concerned that his mother was giving money to charitable appeals that he believed would not be effective. 

Conscientious objectors singing love songs to huns
John 'Bert' Brocklesby
Wednesday 2 March 2016

Bert Brocklesby was called before a tribunal in Doncaster when he claimed a conscientious objection to joining the army. He wrote out a transcript of the hearing.

Maternity ward, Châlons-sur-Marne
Hilda Clark
Tuesday 1 March 2016

Hilda saw her work as a form of pacifism in action but was concerned about the situation of pacifists in Britain facing conscription.

Front page of newspaper 1916 Fellowship of fainthearts
Howard Marten
Monday 29 February 2016

On the introduction of conscription Howard Marten sought exemption as a conscientious objector. He went before a local tribunal to argue his case.

Crater in no man's land
Howard Marten
Friday 13 November 2015

On 28 December 1915, the Cabinet agreed to introduce conscription for unmarried men aged 18–40. Howard was 31 and not married. He knew his opposition to war was about to become extremely personal, but this was still for him part of a wider struggle and a bigger faith.

Bodies of soldiers in front destroyed buildings in Ypres
Laurence Cadbury
Thursday 12 November 2015

Laurence Cadbury was present at the Second Battle of Ypres in April 1915, the first time in the war when poison gas was used. He not only saw the battle but he helped to heal the victims.

children fleeing a town
Hilda Clark
Wednesday 11 November 2015

Despite rejoicing in aspects of her work, Hilda's letters from France in 1915 make several references to struggling with negative emotions. It's not only the suffering around her that gets her down – she also seems dismayed with the pro-war sentiments coming from Britain.

Front cover of The Tribunal
John Hoare
Tuesday 10 November 2015

As time went on, John became less isolated and more involved with the anti-war movement. Motivations for opposing the war differed; some held religious convictions while others opposed it on political or humanitarian grounds, others made no distinctions.

The ‘absolutists’ were determined not to accept any work ordered by the state; others would consider alternative work – though there were further differences over what sort of work they would accept. John was later asked about divisions in the movement. This was his reply.

Pamphlet challenging national service
John 'Bert' Brocklesby
Monday 9 November 2015

Bert seems to have preached less often as he became more involved in campaigning against the war. He described how he came to know Quakers through the anti-conscription campaign.

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

As 1915 wore on, the casualties mounted, the number of volunteers dropped and pressure to introduce conscription intensified. Howard Marten knew that conscription would affect him personally. He later talked about his life in London as the war progressed.

FAU magazine
Laurence Cadbury
Thursday 5 November 2015

In early 1915 the army tightened up censorship rules for letters home from the front. Laurence's letters from the Friends Ambulance Unit show both amusement and frustration with the new regulations. The authorities did not want the public to know the extent of the typhoid outbreak at the front – so banned the word from being mentioned.

Furniture being distributed to refugees as soldiers pass along the road behind
Hilda Clark
Wednesday 4 November 2015

Hilda's letters from France contain almost no reference to the reactions she received as a female doctor, despite this being unusual at the time. At a time when most people had never travelled in a car, Hilda further challenged gender roles by regularly driving one. Here's one letter from May 1915, sent to her friend Edith in London.

Women's peace conference
John Hoare
Tuesday 3 November 2015

For 19-year-old John Hoare, Oxford University was less lonely than boarding school – but only just. He was still struggling to find others who shared his views. The threat of conscription was round the corner and criticism of the war was suppressed. John discovered help in the form of the No-Conscription Fellowship and amongst Quakers (also known as Friends). He later looked back on this discovery. 

Brocklesby family photograph
John 'Bert' Brocklesby
Monday 2 November 2015

A week after his bruising experience in Conisbrough, Bert found himself preaching in another church. He took a more cautious approach, but delivered the same message. He later wrote about the experience.

Members of the No-Conscription fellowship on their way to prison
Howard Marten
Friday 30 October 2015

While Laurence was growing more sympathetic to the armed forces, bank clerk Howard Marten was campaigning fervently against the war. Faced with the possibility of conscription, he was one of thousands of people to join the No-Conscription Fellowship (NCF). He later talked about the people he found in the group–including those not from the peace movement, but from the police.

Laurence's passport
Laurence Cadbury
Thursday 29 October 2015

By 1915 opinions were divided within the Friends Ambulance Unit (FAU). Formed by young Quaker men at the outbreak of war, it provided ambulance services to wounded soldiers (unlike Hilda's group, which worked with civilians). Fears began to grow within its ranks that it was effectively helping the war effort by freeing up other men to go and fight.

Relief workers building a new section at Sermaize Château Hospital
Hilda Clark
Wednesday 28 October 2015

Hilda, a Quaker doctor from Somerset, was working in France with the Friends War Victims Relief Committee. She had re-established the group to alleviate the suffering of those caught up in the war. This humanitarian response unit worked with civilians close to the front line, offering practical support on the basis of a common humanity.

In the spring of 1915 she wrote home to her friend Edith Pye.

Cartoon of a Quaker avoiding enlistment
John Hoare
Tuesday 27 October 2015

John Hoare found himself isolated at boarding school after professing his abhorrence of killing at the outbreak of war. As he discovered others who shared his views, among them many Quakers, he began to feel less isolated.

Across the country, however, the political landscape was hardening. Pressure to introduce conscription intensified. During 1915 the ‘Derby Scheme’ began, registering men who said they were willing to fight if the call came. John later recalled the challenges he faced at the time.

John 'Bert' Brocklesby
Monday 26 October 2015

The war that began in 1914 was expected to be over by Christmas. John ‘Bert’ Brocklesby found himself preaching in his own church just after the beginning of 2015. He wrote about the response he received.

Laurence Cadbury
Friday 29 August 2014

Laurence wrote to his parents from a Friends Ambulance Unit station in France on Boxing Day 1914, picking up themes that had been cut short in his last letter. Here's an abridged version of his letter.

Howard Marten
Thursday 28 August 2014

Poetry played an important part in Howard's life. He wrote a good many poems throughout the war years, neatly written down in a carefully preserved notebook. Early on in the war, he wrote a poem about the Quaker notion of the “inner light”, which played such an important part in his pacifism.

Hilda Clark
Wednesday 27 August 2014

Hilda was seeing extreme suffering in France. Continuing to work as a doctor and to organise other pacifist volunteers, she expressed her feelings in another letter to her friend Edith.

John Hoare
Tuesday 26 August 2014

As we have seen, John's initial determination to resign from the Officer Training Corps weakened under pressure from the headmaster and public opinion. He was later asked why he had joined the Corps in the first place.

John 'Bert' Brocklesby
Monday 25 August 2014

To Bert, war required either hatred or callousness. Writing about the early days of the war, he linked his convictions with a rejection of hatred – and a question about prayer during wartime.

Laurence Cadbury
Friday 22 August 2014

Five days after his previous letter, Laurence wrote to his mother. The letter was cut short as his colleague Philip Baker was leaving for England and offered to take the letter with him.

Howard Marten
Thursday 21 August 2014

In this week's extract from Howard's later conversations about the war, he links both principle and personality in describing the formation of his views.

Hilda Clark
Wednesday 20 August 2014

Amidst fears of German troops reaching the town, Hilda's tasks seem to have included keeping everyone calm, as shown by an early letter to her friend Edith.

John Hoare
Tuesday 19 August 2014

John's last year at boarding school in Repton was a time of “terrible isolation” due to his pacifist convictions. John said that one of the influences that had pushed him towards pacifism was the writings of the former headmaster, the theologian William Temple.

John 'Bert' Brocklesby
Monday 18 August 2014

How did Bert come to be such a strong pacifist? Unlike Howard, he did not grow up in a pacifist family. His brothers Philip and Harold joined the army shortly after war broke out.

Laurence Cadbury
Friday 15 August 2014

By December, Laurence was heavily involved in running ambulances in the Ypres area of Belgium and nearby parts of France. His enthusiasm for cars proved to be useful. 

Howard Marten
Thursday 14 August 2014

As a peace activist, Howard was involved in several groups campaigning against the war. Anti-war organisations included the Fellowship of Reconciliation and the Union for Democratic Control.

Hilda Clark
Wednesday 13 August 2014

It was October before Hilda and her comrades obtained permission from the French and British authorities to travel to France to support civilian victims of war.

John Hoare
Tuesday 12 August 2014

His sister Alice wrote that the headmaster, Geoffrey Fisher, treated him [John] with “ostracism and contempt”.

John 'Bert' Brocklesby
Monday 11 August 2014

The beginning of war saw thousands of men rush to enlist. Those who chose not to do so faced criticism.

Laurence Cadbury
Friday 8 August 2014

Shortly after the war started, several young Quaker men formed the Friends Ambulance Unit (FAU), dedicated to providing relief from suffering at the front.

Howard Marten
Thursday 7 August 2014

Howard Marten was living above his father's shop in Wigmore Street, central London, when war broke out. A 30-year-old bank clerk, he opposed the war from the beginning.

Hilda Clark
Wednesday 6 August

While some Quakers sought to save lives by campaigning against the war, others wanted to help war victims directly.

John Hoare
Tuesday 5 August

John Hoare was 18 years old and still at school when the war came. Nine years younger than Bert Brocklesby, he was from a very different background...

John 'Bert' Brocklesby
Monday 4 August 2014

In the summer of 1914, the prospect of war felt far away to Bert Brocklesby, a teacher in the Yorkshire town of Conisbrough near Doncaster.