#whitefeather diaries

A pacifist soldier

19 October, 2015 - 12:07 -- ElizabethP

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.

Peace: The Great Adventure

19 October, 2015 - 11:59 -- ElizabethP

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.

Approaches to pacifism

19 October, 2015 - 11:57 -- ElizabethP

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.

Pacifists and Jesus

19 October, 2015 - 11:52 -- ElizabethP

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.

Violent revolution?

19 October, 2015 - 10:53 -- ElizabethP

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.

How far will we go?

19 October, 2015 - 10:51 -- ElizabethP

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.

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